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March 08, 2019

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano is the Happiness Hero at John’s Crazy Socks. At the age of only 34, she suffered a major stroke in January 2017. Claudia is an essential team member at John’s Crazy socks working to spread happiness and show every day what is possible when you give a person a chance. Claudia is sharing her recovery in this blog, so others can learn of the challenges facing stroke recovery patients and people in recovery can take strength and inspiration from knowing they are not alone.

Luke Perry suffered a massive stroke and died on Monday, March 4.  Wow, that is not OK.  Personally, my childhood crush died anddied from a massive stroke.  Just reading that is a trigger.  It brings up some disturbing memories. It makes me happy that I am alive.  What if that was me?  He was 52, older than me, yes, but he is young for a stroke.  We don’t know why he had a stroke. His family might know, but the general public doesn’t know.  I am shocked.  I can’t believe any young person could die from a stroke, or that is what I have been telling myself.  I can’t get over it. 

I almost died.  Yes, I could say that.  But Luke Perry died. That brings it home for me.  And for my family, my husband, my friends—to think that I almost died; to feel it, to react to it, maybe to experience it for the first time.  I am dealing with it, really, for the first time ever. I did not realize that young people could die from a stroke.  But they can. Luke Perry did.  That is a hard realization to deal with. 

I send out my condolences to Luke Perry’s family.  He will be missed.  I know that there’s no time to tell him everything that you would want to, but he knew he was loved.  That’s is the most precious feeling that he could have. 

He was my childhood crush.  He was Dylan McKay, the bad boy.  And he died from a massive stroke.  I had a massive stroke.  That is unthinkable, it is crazy.  No one deals with the increased risk in strokes in younger people.  Or at least, it doesn’t feel like the doctors are looking at people like me, younger people, and we have no idea what causes the stroke. I wish I was a doctor because since I had a stroke, I spend my time researching younger people who have had a stroke.  I would like to advocate for the people who suffered from stroke. I would like to wake up every day and fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves.  How do I do that?  I have this blog series, but what else?

Along comes Liz Gold who is a National Assignment Producer on a show called, “The Now.”   She called me on Thursday. Due to Luke Perry’s stroke she was doing a piece on younger people who suffered from a stroke. She read my blog and thought it was a good fit.  She was to interview me on Friday.  If you saw the social media post that John’s Crazy Socks posted on Monday, you might have seen the interview.  It was a piece called, “Stroke Risk in Younger Adults.”  I talked about the day that I had my stroke, the lack of awareness when I was told, not knowing why I had a stroke, and how we must raise awareness to younger people.  I told Liz Gold that I am still in therapy—Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy.  Not to mention, regular therapy too.  

It was a national news story.  Liz Gold works for a media company, and they had 17 affiliate station all over the country.  From California, to Florida, to Buffalo.  I think that in some small way I am bringing awareness to the No. 2 most common cause of death worldwide.  I’d like to do more to bring awareness to something so important.  Even with my aphasia, I can bring a voice to the younger generation of stroke survivors who might not have a voice.  You can watch the interview by clicking below.

 

Every day, every week, I take more steps. It is hard, but I keep getting better. 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Claudia 


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