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?

-KK

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!

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).
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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?
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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.
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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.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

An Open Letter to My Sweet Baby Girl

My dearest Biskit --

Kraig KoelschI cannot even begin to tell you how much I love you and how you changed my life forever, all for the good. You are such a sweet, good baby. From the moment I saw you on the Internet, I knew you were going to be my baby girl. You might not know this but you had a few sisters and brothers so when I came to see you for the first time, your 'breeder mommy Pat' asked if I thought I could pick you out. Guess what, she said I did without hesitation and I know I did because it was you!

The picture on the right is the first time I ever held you, kinda felt right, huh? Your sweet little left leg up on my shoulder and neck. You were born in Dunnellon, FL, which is near Ocala and Gainesville. More on the significance of that later.

I knew you were my baby girl instantly so I paid the deposit, and did my interview, I mean, just not any bozo deserves to be your daddy, and then I went on my way. The whole next week was like Christmas as I knew I was coming to get you that following Saturday. That was our first ride together and not the best that's for sure. You were not happy and cried, pooped and pee'd all the way to New Smyrna Beach, but that is where our love affair began. It was not easy to get you to go potty and especially not in the right place! But with some persistence and love, you broke the household accidents and turned into the best little girl who could run free around the house and usually, just enjoy doing it. Every now and then a toy might get mangled or some paper chewed up but hey, that's what dogs do! And rides, boy did we love to 'go for the ride' or 'go for the walk.' I always smiled as you listened to every word, tilting your head as the conversation went along.

Kraig KoelschYou were there by my side when I bought my first house in New Smyrna Beach and were there for me when I had to leave it. I loved taking you to your favorite place in the world, Smyrna Dunes Park or as you knew it, 'the doggis beach'. We really had such a great time in New Smyrna and Florida in general. But, in early 2010, we had to change directions professionally.

You were there for me when I moved to Chicago, knowing nobody and you took it all in stride. I know you didn't like the snow or the cold and what Florida gal would? But you dealt with it like a good baby, just as you always were. Many a night I was missing friends and the like but as soon as I opened that door, seeing you fixed everything. It always did.

We had a good time in Chicago, too. Lord only knows we moved three (and a half) times. But the best for us was in Roscoe Village, close to your best buddies Todd and Kim and Taylor the dog. We had lots of fun with them but yes I know, Biskie wants to go to the dogiss bar!

video
And boy did we have fun there, the Four Treys Tavern became a family for us and Biskie, you were the star of the show. You were the sweet baby girl pug that 'just sits in that bar stool and behaved' or 'sang to the crew in your high-pitch voice.'

I can't tell you how many times people asked to pet you or said that dog is just so well behaved, she just looks and looks at you, Kraig. Biskit, nothing made me happier than the love I felt from you as you did look at me no matter where we were or what we were doing. Your eyes warmed my heart and let me assure you, the hearts of so many other who loved you so dearly.

Kraig Koelsch
Our dear friend Brad Spry was in town for Thanksgiving in 2007 and he took this picture. Do you know where it was taken baby? That's right, the dogiss beach!

It's quite ironic as the message was meant for Thanksgiving but when I see it now, it makes me think of you and you saying thank you to me. Oh dear baby, it is me who will be doing the thanking. Thank you for loving me unconditionally, thank you for being such a good girl and thank you for allowing me to be your daddy.


videoBeing your daddy is the single greatest achievement I have ever accomplished. As you know, daddy got a new job and it was time for us to return to Florida in October 2013. After all, we never wanted to leave in the first place but we did what we had to do as a team.

I was so excited to take you to the dogiss beach and you were happy to return, and we had Dad along so that made it all the better. You and I plus Dad set the apartment up and went for lots of walks and rides, which I know were your favorite.

So here we were back in Florida, back in your home baby. I will never understand what made you sick last Friday but I knew something was wrong, so I initially tried to be a good daddy and make you comfortable.

So I wrapped you in this blanket and hoped that you could rest and feel better. But daddy knew better and knew his baby girl was not feeling right. So we got to 'go for ride' to the Emergency Vet Hospital in Casselberry. You were a good girl and hopped right up in the car and away we went.

Kraig KoelschI thank God that we did go as you were a sick, sweet little girl. I received word very early Sunday morning that you needed to go to Gainesville, to the University of Florida Veterinary Hospital. I jumped in the car at 3:15 a.m., came to get you and we had our last ride together up to Gainesville. I treasure that ride Biskit but I know you were so sick. That didn't stop you from looking at me though and I tried my very hardest to comfort you while driving like a maniac (yeah, I know that one stop light about threw us both in the dash...sorry about that.) You didn't seem pleased. :-)

Biskie, I know you already know, but this hospital is the best in the state and I wouldn't settle for less, not even a little bit. I was so fortunate that I was able to visit you a few times over the next two days.

Now comes the hard part my sweet, beautiful girl. I got the reports, I saw the test results, I heard the news and most importantly, I saw you. I saw my baby in excruciating pain, bleeding, and with your liver and kidneys failing you. I saw your face and how much stress and pain you were in but you still always looked into my eyes, even as you struggled to take each breath. And that last time I saw you, I knew that as your daddy, I had made the right decision to help you. Biskit my love, I sure hope you understand why I did what I did. The best of the best were by my side and they helped daddy make Biskie feel better. My goal as your daddy was to always make you feel better.
I wouldn't have been anywhere else than by your side, looking into those beautiful eyes as daddy and the doctor did make Biskie feel better. Please understand that I did this out of unconditional love, I know you do baby girl, I know you do.

I could write a thousand pages about my love for you and it wouldn't do you justice. But I did want you to know that I do know how much you loved me, I know how much you followed me and I know how much you basically worshipped the ground I walked on. Let me tell you, it was a pleasure.

I find it both ironic and a bit comforting that you passed away not far at all from the little town of Dunnellon, where I got you back in August 2006. I think God may have wanted you to come home to him sweet girl but before he brought you, he needed you to go home one last time. I'll never understand why you were taken from me so soon, but it won't stop me from cherishing all the great years we had together.

So my dear sweet baby girl, I will end this letter to you with one last affirmation. Biskit Koelsch, I love you with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind and all that I am. You were the best little girl your daddy could ever have and I am so proud of you for being my girl. You were a good girl, a tough girl and a strong girl every day of your life but most of all, you were a fun girl who changed most people that ever met you. The picture to my right is my favorite picture ever taken of us. Dad took it when Mom and Dad joined us for a walk in Florida one day.
Kraig Koelsch

Biskie, don't think for a minute that we won't be reunited someday again, and boy, I will join you in that full sprint until you are again in my arms. But I know God is with you and many others that will watch over you until I get there. I know now you'll watch over me and that gives me great comfort.

You know I don't like the word goodbye so I will most definitely see you soon Biskit. You will forever have my heart, my soul and all that I am. Thank you for being such a good baby and loving me, you are the best thing I ever called my own.

Love you always and forever my sweet baby girl,

Daddy

In loving memory of Biskit Koelsch - Born May 11, 2006, Passed Away November 4, 2013

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Weight Loss, Snowstorms and Sports Minutia

World Of KK
Well the results are in and while I fell slightly short of my goal (yes, I'm aggressive), I'm pleased to report that I've lost 13.7 lbs on Day 30 of my diet.

It's been a battle and one that will continue but I'm winning and I'm not looking back. My initial goal of 50 lbs is well within reach and I'm going to get that in the short term. I've actually been pleasantly surprised with the whole Nutrisystem plan and the food is actually pretty good. Some things are obviously better than others but I'm pleased.

Its taught me a lot and I feel better. That's the big reason I'm doing this. Yes, there will be cheat days and I look forward to my beers (back on Michelob Ultra) but this lifestyle change is one that's needed and worth it. One major change is the exercise regimen I've started. It's certainly not going to revolutionize fitness but it has done the following:

1.) Made me feel better
2.) Made me look better
3.) Changed how I view cheating and drinking beer
4.) Become addictive

I really enjoy going and that itself amazes me. OK, enough of the diet stuff as most of you have probably quit reading. We're getting hit pretty good with a snowstorm today here in Chicago. With areas total already in the 2 to 7 inch range that puts the potential final snow totals for this storm in the 5-12 inches range. By far the biggest of the year. So much for spring.

I'm really looking forward to March Madness this year and that always helps ease back into spring. I think PITT can make a Sweet 16 run or possibly a step further. It all depends on their perimeter scoring. Speaking of scoring, nobody is doing it better than my Pittsburgh Penguins. Only problem is, their defense is a porous sieve. They need to fix that fast or they won't be able to challenge for a Stanley Cup that is well within reach. And while we're on hockey, how can you not notice the hometown Chicago Blackhawks? That's a pretty damn impressive and insane start.

I'll wrap this with a few predictions about baseball. Look for the Pittsburgh Pirates to regress this year, falling to a record of 70-92. Management did nothing to address its anemic offense and a pitching staff that overachieved will return to earth. I am going on record to say that James McDonald will once again be removed from the starting rotation and that Aj Burnett will see his era rise to his career norm or worse (4.05).

I certainly hope I'm wrong but I have 20 years of futility on my side. Well, that's all for now so farwell, stay low and keep wheeling.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What the heck is going on?

It's certainly been too long but the World of KK is back and I'm in the blogging mood. I kept the blog title PC as I truly am going through somewhat of a transformation.

It's early and I'm only eight days into it but I've lost 6.9 pounds thus far eating better and following the Nutrisystem diet plan. My goal is to lose 50 pounds and keep it off. I am on the initial 28-day plan and have cut alcohol and pop out of my diet. Those of you who know me well know that I love my Ginger Ale and Bud Light so it's a big give up. But, those of you who know me also know that I'm not a quitter.

I'm not saying I'll make my goal or even close. What I am saying is I'm tired of feeling shitty and am doing something about it. If nothing else, this diet plan is helping educate me to a healthy and more balanced diet. That means more meals, but smaller portions. Sounds simple but a fat, single guy like me was so used to skipping breakfast and gorging at lunch. Then, eat whatever I damn well pleased at dinner.

There will be cheat days and I will MOST DEFINITELY see you at the bar but you're going to see less of me. That's not a promise or a goal, that's a fact.

p.s. I included this picture of my latest grocery trip to motivate myself and maybe some others. I literally couldn't believe what I had bought but when the worst things is low-fat/sodium cheese, I'd say that's a hell of a progression.

p.s.s. Winter can feel free to end at any point now. I am starting to think I've had my fill of it again. Biskit certainly has. What's next? Stay tuned.

p.s.s.s. Is there even such a thing as p.s.s.s.? Well who cares. Anyway, F the Ravens and Let's Go Pens!