Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Remembering Biskit, Refreshing KK and What Comes Next

Kraig KoelschToday marks the one year anniversary of the day I made the painful but necessary decision to say goodbye to my baby girl Biskit. It’s been a tough year I won’t lie to you. I have been through a heck of a lot since my return to Florida and I’m still figuring some things out on a few fronts.
But you know what? I’m still fighting and I kept my promise to Biskit. I have not had a shot of liquor in over a year (October 24). I’m very proud of that!
I reached a high point of 58 pounds lost (officially) and a little over 60 pounds on my own scale in a diet and I’m still going. I’ve gained a few back but I have given myself a new lifestyle, not just a diet. I thank my company Highwinds for providing the wonderful benefit of Nuviva Medical Weight Loss.

I did it for me but I also had the motivation of seeing a healthy living creature succumb to death in just a few days, and knowing how bad I let myself go, that scared me, still does. A few have said this and I fully agree: Biskit saved me. Say what you want but I believed this to be true before anyone even hinted at as much. I love you Biskit! 

So today I remember a sweet little pug that so many of you loved and I thank all of you who helped me along the way in the past year on many different fronts.  

There are way too many people to thank individually but I would like to name just a few: My mom and dad, my brother Khris, my sister-in-law Jessica, two of my best friends George Vuckovich and Charlie Desch, my friends Barry Whitley and Damita Loy and my boss and friend Jay Moore. Each of you (and as I said many others) stepped up numerous times when I needed you most and never stopped caring. I am eternally grateful.

I often told Biskit that she would someday have someone to play with and I regret not being able to give her that. I have been contemplating this for months now and have been back and forth on different scenarios. In the end, I wanted Biskit to know that on October 15, I agreed to adopt one of her cousins (born October 12) from her ‘mommy’ in Dunnellon, FL where I got her from. So this message of thanks and remembrance has a happy ending and she’ll join me in Maitland, FL the weekend of December 12-14, a fitting Christmas gift to myself.

So without further ado, I would officially like to introduce all of you to Hannah! 

And I know many will ask so let me answer, why Hannah? Well, I just kept coming back to it, I like it and it's a palindrome (look it up if you don't know what it means)! How cool is that?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Weight Loss Goal Number One is No More -- Plus More Updates

Well, this has certainly been a journey full of many ups and lots of down but as of May 14, 2014, I am extremely happy to report that I have met and SURPASSED my initial weight loss goal of 50 pounds (down 53 pounds and 23 inches across my body). I began my journey on Jan. 13 at the Nuviva Medical Weight loss clinic in Altamonte Springs.
kraig koelsch

Making the decision to start this journey was easy. I had a serious health scare last October and was in the ER with a severe allergic reaction, I felt terrible for weeks but I didn’t have time to worry about me as just one week later, my beloved pug Biskit got extremely sick and died just a few days later in November.  

Not long after that, my lower back, which has given me issues before, started hurting and worsened terribly over Christmas. My doctor gave me some pain pills and muscle relaxers which worked before but I don’t like taking pills if I don’t have to and these weren’t working. So I decided that I would make the pain ease as best I could.

I began aggressive chiropractic treatment and started Nuviva. While the chiro helped a little, it was not doing enough so I went to my doctor and he ordered MRIs. Well, they weren’t pretty and I was (and still am) looking at a good chance of lower back surgery (severe disk isssues and spinal stenosis).

I saw a neurosurgeon and before operating, he wanted to do a series of three epidural spinal injections, the last of which I received this past Monday. They helped a little but would often quickly dissipate when I did anything such as run/play softball etc.

Regardless, I have kept my head up and am laser focused on getting my back fixed, continuing positive changes I’ve made in my personal life, being the best I can be at a job (and company) that I love and continuing to eat healthy. I’m not on a diet anymore, I have a new life and that includes healthy eating. Oh yeah, as soon as I reached my first goal, I set an immediate second goal of an additional 30 pounds. That will put me at or near what I weighed as a freshman in college/senior in high school, maybe even younger than that!
kraig koelsch

I did this for me and of course to help make me feel better, but many of you may remember that I made a promise to my Biskit and if you know me, I don’t make promises I don’t intend to keep!

Thank you to all of you for reading and for your support throughout this roller coaster ride. I promise you, it will only get better from here!

Kraig Koelsch

p.s. So many of you have asked and since you're already here sharing this other good news, you get an additional bonus. I am not sure when, but I have made up my mind and I WILL BE GETTING ANOTHER PUG. I don't know when but the decision has been made. It's not an attempt to replace Biskit as that's impossible and just the wrong state of mind. What will happen is another furry creature that sheds to beat the band will get the privilege to call my home its home (likely another fawn-colored, female pug). So there, now you know!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Biskie ...

Kraig KoelschI wasn't sure how this day would hit me and to be honest, it snuck up on me at the end. I awoke today as I do any other day, planning what's to come, thinking about specific items I need to handle and just reflecting on life in general, certainly happy to see another day. And then it hit me...

Today is May 11 and my baby girl Biskit Koelsch would have been 8 years old today. I find it hard to fathom that it's been over 7 months since she left me so unexpectedly in early November of last year.

That won't change the years we had together though and I thank God that I was so blessed to have had such a wonderful dog to call my own. But Biskit wasn't just a dog as anyone that ever met her knew oh so well and I am so very thankful for that.

Kraig KoelschI could write novels about how much I miss her and how much she changed my life and you all know that well. But Biskit would want me to keep on living and I promised her I would and would do so in a much more healthy manner (more big news there this week!).

So there will be no special strip steak or dog ice cream today for my sweet girl but there will be fond memories in my heart and the best thing about that is I get to cherish and have those memories each and every day and what more could I ask for?

Happy birthday Biskit, I love you lots and thank you for being such a positive influence in my life (and a good dogiss!).


p.s. I wrote a tribute to Biskit when she passed away that I'd love you to read, if you already haven't or would just like to see again. You can find it here:

An Open Letter to My Sweet Baby Girl

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Remembering My Friend - Three Years Later

Kraig Koelsch
March is one of my favorite times of year, truly. I'm a huge college basketball fan, spring training is well under way and the NHL is making its late push towards postseason positioning. But more importantly, it's also a time of year that, however, makes me stop and remember a great man who was taken from us way too soon. That would be my dear friend, Harry Nelson Stiff.

I can't believe it has been three years already. The world lost a great man, a fantastic husband/father, a loving son/brother/family member and a special friend on March 17, 2011. Thus the St. Patrick's Day holiday will always hold special meaning in my heart and it's certainly not because of a leprechaun or the color green.

Kraig KoelschI wrote a blog that I'm very proud of when Harry passed and for those who haven't seen it, I would love for you to read it. You can find the blog post here: World of KK: Farewell to My Good Friend.

I only knew Harry for a few years but our bond was formed almost instantly and I truly think about him all the time, wondering what he would think about crazy news stories, gimmicky marketing campaigns, foodie-type stuff and of course, sports!

I'm extremely proud of Julynn and Kennedy for the adversity they've faced and the way they've dealt with it. I love them both dearly and am so glad our friendship has stayed strong.

So to Harry, I say, keep getting after it upstairs my friend. I know you're looking down on all of us and making heaven a better place each and every day. We all miss you, no doubt about it. But the impression you made on all of us will last our lifetime. I promise you that! Oh yeah, who do you got in fantasy NASCAR this week?

Kraig Koelsch

Friday, March 07, 2014

March Madness, More Weight Loss and Bucco Baseball

Kraig Koelsch
Mulligan's 2009 champions
Kraig KoelschThought I would check in with another blog as the year is rapidly rolling into one of my favorite times of year, March Madness. Though my favorite team (PITT) is tanking and could be left out of the tournament, it doesn't make it any less appealing and I think Thursday of the tournament is almost like a holiday. Game after game, potential upset after potential upset. And surely, there is nothing more exciting than (well, now if you have a decent cable package or stream them online you can see every game) when you're watching a game and they cut away to show you an upset, maybe it's a big upset.

Maybe it's no. 15 Hampton beating no. 2 Iowa State, regardless, it just seems right and it might not happen again if the teams played 100 times, but you saw it, and it was great. See Florida Gulf Coast from last year if you need a refresher. Been back on the softball diamond since I've been back in October and enjoying every minute of it. We've got a good team (but not as good as this team, above right) and we're competitive, record currently at 5-3. It's short-season winter league though so competition is way better, but such is life.

Weight loss has continued and I'm still making good progress Actually talked about my next goal this week which made me feel great. My first goal of 50 pounds is well within reach and I have currently lost 33.4 pounds as of Wednesday's weigh in. Pictures like the ones on the right of this blog are what is motivating me. I want to and will feel better, I've come too far already.

The picture of me in the Chicago shirt was taken by my dad in October in New Smyrna Beach. I am beyond excited to take my next picture at the weight loss clinic. Sounds like a crazy thing to say but I am serious, and really motivated.
Kraig Koelsch

The next picture was taken at Pitzer's restaurant in Jeannette, PA over the Christmas holiday with one of my best friends and fellow Buccos fan, Ted Kopas.

I remember stretching my neck when this picture was taken to avoid showing the many chins I had. Still have a few, just not as many.

The Pirates have been playing well thus far in spring training and while winning is always good, I think people are still a little too tolerant and accepting of the lousy off-season this team had following huge gate receipts, playoff revenue and additional MLB revenues. They signed nobody and two story lines that are going to happen are as follows:

Loved the Russell Martin story today in the Trib. The Pirates will never address that and won't even consider signing him, notice that you haven't seen the apologist bloggers and defenders mention much about it at all. The Tony Sanchez PR campaign will begin mid-season, you can already hear the quotes.

Kraig Koelsch
I like Sanchez and sooner or later he needs a shot as a highly-selected no. 1 pick, but he's no spring chicken and when the Pirates say they are looking for a younger player, remember the difference Russell Martin made with the pitching staff and throwing out runners.

Last, he's only 31 and the 'prospect' Sanchez turns 26 in two months.  Also, after two good games, look for the  'we knew what we had in Travis Snider all along' comments, they will be coming. He's out of options and since the Pirates foolishly tendered him, you'll get to enjoy him until Gregory Polanco makes his debut in June. I suppose it could be worse, like Edinson Volquez, who Bucs fans will get to enjoy for a lot longer that June.

Oh well, as opening day nears, I hope the winter finally turns dormant and brings you days like this, when I took my parents to Wrigley Field last year to watch the Buccos vs. the Cubs. The Pirates may have lost in extra innings, but memories like these in a mecca like that last a lifetime.

Onward and upward!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Checking In 2014: Weight Loss, Biskit and Buccos

Kraig KoelschIt's been a while since I posted a blog so I just wanted to check in. I've been dieting hard since January 14 and I'm excited with the results. As of this past Wednesday, I'm down 30 pounds. I cannot wait to post the before and after pictures of the new and improved Kraig Koelsch.

Let's just say we won't be having anymore pictures like this one of a Sidney Crosby jersey strangling me as I stood in front of the old Igloo (Mellon Arena). Still hard to believe the old barn is no more.

The diet has gotten easier and I am very motivated as the results speak for themselves. The program has you weigh in every week which keeps you accountable and certainly keeps your eye on that scale each week. So far, so good. My initial goal is 50 pounds and I hope to get there by mid April. I realize that's probably super aggressive but hey, might as well get after it and keep the train rolling.

Once there and yes, I will get there, I will set another goal, most likely another 20 pounds or so. Then, I'll be at or near (maybe even a lil less) where I want to be. So I'm pretty encouraged.

I wanted to add a note and thank all of you for hanging in there with me since I lost Biskit with your thoughts, prayers, notes, calls, cards, e-mails, drawings, memorial donations, the list goes on...

It's truly been a major help and has gotten me through a very difficult time. It will be four months since I said goodbye on March 4 but I can honestly tell you that I'm doing OK and am happy that she is no longer in pain. Thank you so much!

I always liked this picture that my pal Fat Bradley took as Biskit and I were taking him back to the airport.
Kraig Koelsch
Now for the Buccos. What a dismal off-season for the Pirates. I can't say I didn't expect it but I truly thought they couldn't possibly just stand pat and in the process weaken a playoff team. A playoff team that was close to advancing to the NLCS.

I mean, they actually believe the BS they spout, like this:

After losing A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau to free agency, the Pirates signed No. 5 starter Edinson Volquez, re-signed utility infielder Clint Barmes and traded for backup catcher Chris Stewart.

“I think the additions were strong,” Owner Robert Nutting said. “I am very enthusiastic about the team we'll put on the field. Are we in a strong position to compete and excel in 2014? Absolutely. I'm never satisfied, but I'm very enthusiastic about where we are.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/pirates/5620307-74/nutting-pirates-free#ixzz2tsO0Hcfl

So let me get this straight, You lost your 1B, RF and one of your best pitchers who tossed almost 200 innings (despite being hurt), struck out 200+ batters and had a nice ERA and replaced them with one of the worst pitchers in baseball (who also led all NL starters in earned runs)? Oh yeah, and added a light-hitting backup catcher and an old, light-hitting shortstop. Those are strong additions? Don't talk to us like we're morons, Mr. Nutting. It isn't very becoming.

Kraig KoelschDon't let them fool you, they have not kept their promise of spending when the team became a winner. Easy predictions are that no matter what, the apologists will soon start writing that Francisco Liriano can't and shouldn't be re-signed. The Pirates will put out a massive PR campaign as to why Tony Sanchez is ready (but not this year) so they can move on from paying Russell Martin who has meant so much to this team and of course, they will start making excuses as to why they can't ink Pedro Alvarez to a long-term deal. They will cite Scott Boras of course but guess what, money talks. And for the Pirates, that's an easy equation to make. For the Bucs, when money talks, they walk (away), quickly. It's very frustrating but it's the same old scenario with this ownership group.

The team should still be competitive this season as there is help on the way but I am prepared for a regression. No chance they win 94 games like last year. I think 82-84 is much more realistic but I could easily see them restart the futility streak and finish under .500.

I'm not ready to make a prediction yet but I was thinking about wearing this to Bradenton. I hope you all are well and surviving the winter. Until next time, thanks for reading!

Kraig Koelsch

p.s. Not familiar with the Irate Fans movement? Our site is down but our front page article from the Post-Gazette written by my friend Chuck Finder can be found here: Irate Fans.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Checking In and Updating Biskit's Final Test Results

It's been awhile and lots have been asking so I thought I would write a blog to check in and also to report the final pathology results for Biskit, which I just received Sunday afternoon, December 22. It's been tough, I won't kid you. To have your best friend, your baby, go from being absolutely normal and herself to with God in heaven in just over three days is crippling. It has shaken me to the core, rattled my thoughts and tested my patience and faith. I do believe that Biskit is in a better place and that comforts me.

I haven't been going out much as I need to get all these damn bills paid. For those who didn't know, the week before Biskit got sick I was in the emergency room myself with an unknown and severe allergic reaction that had hives all over my body, my throat swelling shut. So, it's been a rough couple months since I returned to Florida, really rough. But where there is rough, there is often tough, and I'm doing my best to keep it all together.

I was able to rejoin my old softball team down here and hit well during the seven games I played. I was still rusty but it was fun. We'll be playing again in the 'Polar Bear' league which begins January 9. Looking forward to that as it keeps me busy and I was able to secure our old sponsor, Mulligan's, in Altamonte Springs, FL. It's a great place and the sponsor pays all of our fees.

I'm headed to Pittsburgh for the holidays and looking very forward to it. I have not been home in over a year because of my move and that my parents came to see me in Chicago instead. It will be great to be home.

I wanted to also say thanks again, to all of you. Family, friends, co-workers and just anyone who cared to check in, send me a note, card, etc. I have been touched on so many levels and it has given me peace at a time I really needed it.

Now for the final report on my sweet baby girl, Biskit. Here is the initial necopsy/final pathology report from the doctor:

Based on the gross and histological findings of the organs, the pathologists suspects that Biskit became septic (Bacteria in the blood along with severe inflammatory response) from an infection that ascended from her small intestine into her liver which caused the acute liver injury, this led to the acute liver injury, then as the infection became systemic she developed acute kidney injury due to the septic process and multi-organ failure. Very likely the infection was cleared by all the antibiotics she received and therefore the infectious agent was not recognized, but she died due to the severe inflammatory response and the multi-organ failure. Sepsis and multi-organ failure is one of the leading causes of death in human ICU’s and we struggle with it in the veterinary field. The reason for the ascending infection into her liver is likely multi-factorial, but likely due to an abnormal biliary system (chilangiohepatitis).
I followed up with these questions:

1.) Is this the Pathology report or the Necropsy report? It says necropsy at top and submitted 11/5/2013. Maybe the reports are both combined into one?

It stated: We sent out a leptospirosis titer, which is a potential cause of her acute kidney injury, but the results are still pending. When we spoke in November you confirmed that it was NOT Leptospirosis.

2.) Just so I'm sure, I understand the DX of sepsis and multi-organ failure, but if I'm reading what you said correctly, whatever caused this was not and will never be identified, right?

3.) Last, is there anything in the findings that said how long this might have been occurring before it got bad? Could I have missed signs, things like that? Or is this something based on the findings that hit quick, hit hard and ultimately took my baby girl's life?
Here is the doctor's response:

1. It is the necropsy report which identifies the pathology of the disease.  Both terms are referring to the same diagnostic procedure. Yeah the leptospirosis test was sent out at the time the necropsy was submitted 11/05/13, at that time the results were pending, as I said, the results were negative.

2. Correct no infectious agents were identified so the specific bug that caused the septic process would never be identified.

3. This is an acute process (few days), there is no way to specifically determine exactly how long before it got bad.

Unfortunately your baby girl was affected by a very severe disease process that affected the entire system and led to failure of multiple organs in a very short time. There is nothing you could have done to prevent this from happening.
A few final thoughts from me and I will end this blog post. The report did shed some light on where this started, the small intestine. That was never known before. Also, the septic report was new. Obviously, I knew multiple organs were failing because I was with her every step of the way.

But what hurts most is I will never know when it happened or where it happened. What was this awful bug that killed my baby? Where can I find it as I would like to eradicate anything associated with it?

I have been beating myself up since this happened, trying to think of why, where, when, what and how, but that hasn't done much, other than degrade my health and cause extreme sleep deprivation. It is hard for me to fathom that I will never, ever know what took Biskit's life. At times I am very angry, depressed, bitter and feel downright blah but I also know better days are ahead and am doing all I can to stay focused, stay happy and keep enjoying my life.

In the end, those who knew me knew how well cared for Biskit was. She ate special dog food, expensive and grain-free treats and was rarely ever given any table scraps. I wouldn't change anything I did but if I could find out where or what the nasty bug was, I would have gladly eaten it for her to take that pain away. I love you Biskie and I always will.