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Burlesque Bash!

Gretchen Rossi explains going from hostess to house nurse, and responds to hurtful gossip.

By Gretchen Rossi

I was super surprised to see my burlesque party show up in this episode because we filmed it much later in the series, and there was so much more that went on that night! I had tons of yummy food and one of my best girlfriends made the most amazing desserts ever! They were beautifully displayed on platters in the kitchen and they were the highlight of the night it seemed, because they were so delicious! Her company is called Sweet Spills. Go visit her website to see her yummy creations:

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The whole theme of the night was to teach me and my girlfriends a few fun things about burlesque style stuff - to learn how to do some fun burlesque/pin-up sexy girl makeup and learn a little "shimmy" dance from the burlesque girls. We actually all did get up and do a shimmy together, so I was super bummed they didn't show it because it was cute and funny. My girlfriend Ally Fisher who works at Holiday in Newport Beach did a little lesson on makeup application and was so sweet and brought all the girls makeup bags full of goodies. All my friends are super talented and gifted and I felt they showed too much of me and missed so much of them! What really made the party fun was the interaction and everyone participating in the fun!

The peacock outfit I was wearing was from my 30th birthday bash that Jeff threw me last year and it was custom made! It is one of my favorite outfits ever! However I didn't wear the authentic panties that came with it because it probably would have been too revealing for television (that outfit was already a little over the top, so it was probably a good idea I didn't wear the original ones I got to go with it.) I had so much fun with my girlfriends at the party, and seeing the footage makes me realize how truly blessed I was to have so much love and support from friends and family this past year while Jeff was sick. My friends and family encouraged me constantly to do things outside of taking care of Jeff, in order to take care of my own spirit through it all. Most of them saw the constant pain I was dealing - they saw me worried all the time, stressed, constantly crying, upset and depressed often, and just the physical drain of taking care of someone so sick. They really wanted me to get away at times to have fun, which is what Jeff wanted for me as well. So the party was a perfect way for me to do that. It was hard sometimes to relax because I wasn't sure if it was right, but once I did, I was happy because it revived me.

You get so caught up in the routine of the hospital, doctors, IV and TPN administration at home, what meds to take, worrying if he has taken his pills today, has he eaten (if he could) today, up all night with him checking for fever, or helping him to the bathroom, grabbing a throw up bucket and helping him through those tough moments etc. etc. that you sometimes even forget to stop and make sure you ate yourself. So I am glad I had friends push me to take time off to do things that were fun and took my mind off of things.

You will see in the series that I travel to a few different places due to encouragement from both Jeff and friends and family to get away and get refreshed, but I always made sure he was well taken care of. His kids would come out and stay with him when I went out of town with family or friends for a quick reprieve. Jeff always encouraged it and I am grateful that he understood that sometimes I needed time away from it all. You see with cancer, you eat, live, and breathe it. The illness becomes your life - no matter how far away you travel or how much fun you try to have to forget about it, it's always there in the back of your mind.

Administering the TPN (food through IV) with the nurse was extremely nerve racking for me. They didn't show all the steps it takes to put it together, but it is very overwhelming the first time they show it to you. The nurse does it like it's second nature and then expects you to just get it. The steps involved cleaning his "pick line" alone is a lot to remember. (Just FYI: A pick line takes surgery to install into the arm and it runs up into the heart and blood stream of the patient - it's the quickest and easiest way of getting things into the system or taking blood to test it.) So if I didn't keep that very sterile and clean while "flushing" it with saline and heparin, then Jeff could have been very susceptible to infection, which could lead to major issues. I get that a lot of people don't care about these things, but I am telling all who care about this to help them understand that patient care is not just something you wake up knowing. You really have to take the time to understand, pay attention, and care enough to do a procedure correctly, because ultimately at the end of the day you have this person's already very weak immune system in your hands. Taking care of Jeff is something I took very seriously and it was very scary at times to think that it was entirely my responsibility, because I am not a trained nurse. I see my post interview and cringe at my nervous laugh as I explain that it is a lot of work, because I know how scared I actually am there.

I was surprised that Tamra confessed to what was being said in the limo at lunch that day, and I appreciate her for stepping up, telling me and apologizing. As I have said on the show, I've never understood the excitement or pleasure anyone gets out of making fun of someone else just for "shits and giggles." I just never got that tactic - I think it is hurtful and pointless. So I was glad that Tamra recognized and apologized to me. Although, as I said before, I was actually able to laugh at what she said. I will never apologize for falling in love with an older man, but I do get that people will judge me for something they don't really understand. That is why I said I just don't care at the end of the day what others think, because what matters to me is what Jeff and I knew and where our hearts were. I've noticed that people who are quick to judge often find themselves in very similar predicaments in their lives and end up eating there own words. So I really try to make a habit out of not judging another person, because I truly never know if I might end up in that same place some day - no matter where it is!

I was very surprised to see the footage of Tamra, Vicki and Jeana at lunch. Although Vicki and I have worked through our differences and no longer have any issues, I was hurt to see how she was reacting to Tamra being thoughtful and calling me because I couldn't be there. It is hurtful because I can remember that day very clearly and the dire situation Jeff and I were facing. He was extremely sick in ICU and I had just finished talking to the doctor, who told me that I probably needed to get his kids on a plane to visit because it was looking that bad. He had a strong case of pneumonia and he wasn't very coherent or responding very well to anything. I kind of feel silly now because I remember thinking that it was so nice of them to call and check in on me because they knew how bad things had gotten with Jeff those last few days. In reality, I did not have a clue as to what was really being said or going on behind the screen of a phone. Watching that tonight was hurtful, and it really takes a lot to hurt me.

I have read a lot of comments from viewers and I cannot say thank you enough to the many people that have taken the time to get to know me, read my blogs, and respond with such positive feedback and personal stories of facing cancer with a loved one or loosing a loved one. I wish I could respond to each of you, and send my condolences back. I wish all of you who have had to endure the pain of loosing a loved one to cancer or taken care of someone who has cancer the very best. After my experience if I could offer any piece of advice it would be to take care of yourselves just as much as you take care of your loved one. Remembering to pay attention to your own mental health while enduring such a trying time makes you a better caretaker to the one who is sick.

I want to quickly answer a couple of the questions that people asked me to please share in the blogs as well. How do I do my hair? ONE-INCH HOT ROLLERS! (Seriously, I put them in after blow-drying my hair and it sets it great and gives it volume)
Style of my white Louis Vutton bag? It was the 55' white overnight bag. Jeff surprised me with it, so I think that is it.
Sunglasses at the Indy 500? They are Dior Sunglasses, but they were from a couple of years ago. (Yes, I'm lame and use things that might not be in style anymore. They looked like racing glasses to me.)
Just for the record, my teeth are not veneers. I get asked a lot so I am not surprised, but they are not, I had braces and that is about it! People were asking about my personal style and I can honestly say that it doesn't matter what you are wearing - if you feel good, you'll look good. Just smile and enjoy life! I can't remember what else was asked, but I hope this helps! That's it for now - I'm over and out!

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