Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano is the Happiness Hero at John’s Crazy Socks. While still a young woman (Claudia is only 35), 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.
The first 6 months after my stroke I had no issues with my leg or my hand because I was on steroids. I took Prednisone and thought I had no issues physically. By November, once I was off the steroid, I realized the truth about what was going on with my hand and leg.
I have two fingers on my right hand that are stuck. They might as well not be there. When I get my nails done, my manicurist Stephanie props up my fingers, and when I am drying my nails, she needs to lead my hand into the heater and push my fingers down. I fight with my ring finger and pinky from curling up. And when I am in the shower and need to shave, I am a righty but now I use my left hand to hold the razor. In fact, I do everything with my left hand now, including typing. As I type this, my left hand is fully extended, and I type with all 5 fingers. I can only type with one finger when using my right hand. In the long scheme of things, I’m not so worried about this. I brought it up to my neurologist and she suggested Botox. Since it was not covered by insurance, it cost me $1,200 every time I did it. Thank God for my go2fund account, I was able to pay for the treatments. We tried it twice, and unfortunately, it did nothing for me. With nothing else to do, I said “C'est la vie.” I just decided to appreciate that I could move around.
My legs were also affected after the stroke. I can’t wear heels. You’re probably saying to yourself “no big deal,” but I miss wearing heels to events like weddings or when I put on a fancy dress. During the winter, I loved wearing heeled boots, and in the summer, I’d wear strappy heeled wedges. There are pants and dresses in my closet that I hold on to because I hope that one day I will be able to wear them again. But to be completely honest, I probably won’t. This will be my permanent reminder that I suffered from a stroke.
What about physical therapy, you’re asking yourself? I would like to go to physical therapy, but I have 3 jobs and work 45 hours a week. I work part-time at John’s Crazy Socks as a Happiness Hero. I also work part-time at for the Town of Huntington Historian and I started working as a Disney Travel agent. In mid-September, I will join John’s Crazy Socks full-time and give up my job with the Town Historian and that will make my life a little easier. Still, life is busy for all of us. I go to speech therapy twice a week, and I have my homework. I like to spend time with my husband and travel, and get errands done. Lately, I have a different outlook on life. I want to enjoy life and travel all the time. And it has never been as true as it is now. When I look back, and realize I almost died, I think about Sean, my husband, and I think of all those things that he wouldn’t be able to experience with me. God forbid I have another stroke and died, I’d would like to have LIVED my life fully. I wish my schedule wasn’t so busy, and that I didn’t need physical therapy. But I should go. I know I need to find a balance in life because you never know if you have 60 years or 5 years, so you have to live every day like it might be your last, but you have to plan like it isn’t.
Tune in next week, and I am going to tell you all about my Comeback Trail!
Read Claudia's 1st blog here: http://bit.ly/2AVPVzR
Read Claudia's 2nd blog here: http://bit.ly/2vZ00Hh