Calandra Strong

On March 22, 2017, our dad, Anthony Calandra, 74, of Kenmore, NY, was just completing his very last job for Cook Moving Systems before he was set to retire. It was a "regular" Wednesday morning when one by one we got the call from our stepmother, Pat, that our dad had been rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester with a suspected aneurism. That began a very scary and uncertain chapter in all of our lives.

Tony was unresponsive for over a week at Strong. We all made the hour-long drive to Rochester daily, not knowing what was in store for our previously capable, healthy father. After many CT scans, angiograms, x-rays, and around-the clock observations, it was determined that he had suffered multiple strokes. His amazing team of top-notch surgeons, neurologists, therapists, technicians, and nurses carefully explained every test and its outcome. The future looked bleak. We were given the worst-case-scenario each morning. He may never awaken. He may never have control of his limbs. He may need to remain on a trach and a feeding tube. He may never talk or walk or play with his grandchildren again. His entire family including his children, wife, and siblings had to come together to make the major decisions we never expected, without his voice to guide us. Slowly, and painstakingly, he began to show signs of eye opening, a finger twitching. We would stare at him and call his name, hoping for any sign that he was still in there. "Tony!" "You are Calandra Strong!"

Finally, after five weeks in Rochester, Dad was transferred by ambulance to Brothers of Mercy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Clarence, NY. When he arrived, he was able to lift his arms slightly, respond to simple questions, and speak in a hoarse whisper. It was at Brothers that his long journey to recovery would actually begin. He has had to re-learn every basic life skill, from talking, to eating, to sitting up on his own. After more than five months, he is only just beginning to walk with assistance. He depends on his family and the staff at Brothers for his every need. He remains unable to fully dress himself, bathe, or take care of most his daily needs. Dad's spunky personality and sense of humor shine through to us in brief moments every day. At the same time, his brain injury causes him to be confused and agitated at times. His frustration and dependence on others presents a safety risk if he is left alone. We know that inside, he is still our strong, stubborn father who is fighting to come back to us, and to his “normal” life.

Tony's insurance company has denied him continued coverage for his stay at the rehab facility, and it is likely that he will need to leave their care in the next several weeks. His occupational and physical therapists are doing their best to prepare him for his transition to a life at home. His family is learning how to support him as he continues to build his strength and competence without the benefit of around-the-clock care. We are also making plans for renovations to his home to make it handicapped-accessible, as he will leave the facility still using a wheelchair, a walker, seralift and various physical aides. Dad will require regular nursing, therapies, and other supports in order to continue the gains he has made throughout this time.

The Calandra family appreciates any donation you are able to give in order to provide nursing care, physical and occupational therapies, and renovations to Tony's home. Thank you for supporting our dad, our rock. He is CALANDRA STRONG!
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Diana Calandra 
East Amherst, NY

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