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33 donations

This fundraiser ended on 10/14/12

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Donations will be used to settle outstanding expenses for Raul Salazar and to help the family with final planning for his care and resting.

During this last year, Raul's battle with Wegener's Disease has taken a huge toll on him and his daughters. The disease caused his kidney's to fail which placed him on an inactive transplant list and he began treatment with dialysis several times a week in early January of 2012. During the following months he found it more and more difficult to work due to the demands of the treatment. Despite his will to keep working and not take time off or even find a less demanding job, he was unable to continue when the disease progressed further unexpectedly on Sunday July 29th. During this time debts had mounted as his ability to work had decreased significantly.

 Those of you who know him very well and have worked with him know his dedication to working hard and his willingness to bend over backwards to help family and friends. He has a very big heart under his stoic exterior and his pride would not allow him to ask for the help he needed even though he has many friends and family who are all willing to step up and help. This left him in a state of debt beyond his ability to recover. On July 29th his disease caused his lungs to bleed and he admitted himself to the emergency room at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. He was immediately intubated and sedated and was basically unconscious for the better part of 4 weeks. When he was allowed to wake up, his strong will was evident. Within a couple of days he extubated himself feeling that the medical staff was far too slow. We were hopeful for recovery, slow though it would be.

 During the following week we got more bad news. Although the bleeding in his lungs had ceased, he began developing every possible complication to the aggressive medical treatment. He had rapidly developed holes in both lungs and within days after that a fungal infection was detected in his lungs which is believed to be the cause of the growing holes. As a result of this, air began leaking causing a collapsed lung leading to chest tubes being placed in both sides. The air began leaking into his soft tissues which caused his upper body to expand like a balloon which could be uncomfortable to painful at times. Further complications led to many necessary treatments being taken off our list of options including dialysis. As the doctors lost hope of any sort of recovery, we were moved out of the ICU and into a private room in the medical unit.

 Anything could end his battle from lack of dialysis to the expanding holes in his lungs to his blood pressure crashing or his oxygen level dropping. Our window for recovery was closing. His recovery was now entirely between him and God. His eldest daughter Lil spoke with him and explained what the doctors had said and asked him twice and very frankly if he wanted to keep fighting. He was very clear, he wanted to fight.

 Lil - As I now look back on those last days where I would have the last conversations with him that he would ever have with anyone I remember some things very clearly. I remember helping to feed him when he couldn't see. I remember running the staff ragged asking them for anything and everything he could muster the strength to ask for. I remember frantically trying to get a low cost working webcam with mic so he could talk to his family in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. His sister Martha got to see him for the last time just days before and speak the last words he would hear from that side of the family. I remember family taking me to eat and packing food for me so I wouldn't starve on my two week vigil. I remember depleting the ICU of their mini tissue boxes so I could wipe tears away before my father could see them. I remember my last moments alone with him on Friday and early Saturday when he was last able to respond to anything vocally. I fed him grapes one at a time to help cool him down. We watched funny things like Jeff Dunham, Eddie Izzard, Monty Python, and Weekend at Bernie's. I played Joseph Prince and Joyce Meyers and some other uplifting programming for him whether he was asleep or awake. I played Christian music for him every night that I slept over so that good things would occupy his dreams. I asked my local churches to pray. I remember my father asked me one day why I ran away so long and I felt so sad that I wasn't able to get back faster. During his last weekend he asked me out of the blue to play music for him and I played Steven Curtis Chapman and sang softly along to him while I held his hand and massaged his chest. His favorite phrase became "Come on, come on, come on." He said that to me and I asked him what he wanted me to do. This time he said "Let's play a card game." We had brought cards for him when he was more capable but this was the first time he asked for them. I asked him what he wanted to play and he asked me what I wanted to play. He used to play blackjack with me on the computer and I suggested that and as I began shuffling he fell asleep.

On Friday after the burn unit had changed his dressings, his oxygen level started crashing and I was right at his bedside. I leaned over him encouraging him to control his own breathing and firmly patting his chest with a cupped hand to ease the pain. True to the doctors' word, no one came to help him. I remained calm for a long time while the alarms were going off and he was struggling. Here was our last and most meaningful conversation in our entire relationship.

Lil - "Papa listen to me. If you want to keep fighting you have to force yourself to breathe. The doctors will not come to help you. Do you understand?" He looked at me and I believe he realized his situation. We kept up my modified CPR for a bit and then he said, "I'm gonna die in here." I asked him, "Is that what you think, Papa? Is that what you want?" The sitter had left the room and he and I were all alone. "Papa, do you know how to get to heaven? Martina and I want you to stay and we will help you fight as long as you want but if you want to go, I want to see you in heaven when it's time for me to leave." I took a pause to try and steady my voice as I was losing emotional control. "Has Jesus saved you?" He shook his head, no. "Why hasn't Jesus saved you?" He said, "I don't know." I held his face, "Papa, listen to me. I need you to focus, please. Do you hear me? Talk to God right now, out loud or in your head. Talk to Jesus. He will hear you. He is the only one who can help you now. I have prayed and will pray over you. All you have to do is tell Jesus that you accept Him as your Lord and Savior. It doesn't matter what you've done or haven't done. Just ask Jesus to take you to heaven to be with the Father. Ok? Do you understand?" After this he just kind of looked up toward the ceiling as I continued patting his chest.

 Tina - Sunday Papa was awake and wide eyed as he enjoyed the football game and held my hand as tightly as he could. Around 2:30 in the afternoon he began to get tired and fell asleep. I kept the game on for him to hear while I studied on the sofa chair in his room. He looked so much better than we had seen in a few days. All the puffiness in his face went down and he could see out of both eyes. So when he fell asleep he looked very restful and more calm. The afternoon went by quietly as I checked on him and fussed over his positioning and adjusted pillows. Just before six o'clock an alarm went off. His air was decreasing and the nurse and myself flew to his side to wake him up to try to get him to think about his breathing and try hard to get more oxygen. I rubbed my knuckles hard into his sternum to wake him up but he lay there calmly and his breath was getting more shallow. "Papa awake up, you need to breathe! Come on Papa, take a deep breath!" He just lay resting no matter how many times I rubbed into his chest or yelled his name. Finally I told the nurse to turn off the monitor so I didn't have to hear the alarm. I just held his hand and patted his chest and let him breathe until he had no more energy left to breathe anymore. It didn't seem painful but calm and he just became more still. When we couldn't see his chest making effort to breathe the nurse held her stethoscope to his chest. She said his heart was still beating but very weak. She kept listening until his last beat. She wrote down the time the moment he was gone, 1805. I held his arm and cried for the next two hours staring at him as memories came and went in my mind. "I love you Papa."

 Lil - I prefer to believe that Papa did not lose his battle with this disease. I prefer to believe that he settled on a game plan with the Lord and ended his battle with the promise of a new home with no more dying and no more sickness. My sister, Tina, was the last family member to see him alive and I believe she took care of him as best she could in my stead. My father left on Mexican Independence Day and on the same day as the Jewish New Year. It was very symbolic for him to go at the end of the season when the last of the fruits are harvested and the time comes for planting new things. He was set free on this incredible day, Sunday, September 16 at 6:05PM. I will regret many things between us that were never quite mended but I will not regret sacrificing everything I had left in me over the last 50 days including the most important thing and the one thing in the world I wanted most from him, my time.

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