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.
Let me start by saying, “I love London.” I could see myself living there again. I could always see myself living there with my husband Sean and my puppy (that I named London for obvious reasons). But my husband, he’s an accountant, and since he’s dealing with the USA tax system, we will not be going to London anytime soon. And I feel, since I had my stroke, that I don’t want to wait too long because I don’t know if I will have that “after retirement” time.
19 months ago, I wanted so badly to stand up, to not be in a wheelchair. I wanted to be able to talk. Well, I am 75% there. I can stand up and walk good, and my speech is coming along. (See, I said “it’s coming along”, because I cannot decipher the thought of speaking like this for the rest of my life.) So, I went on a trip to London with my mother. We went to Bayswater and stayed in the same neighborhood that I use to live in. We saw the State Room at Buckingham Palace and went to High Tea at The Ritz. We went to see a show at Portabello Road called, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” We also saw Downton Abbey and Westminster Abbey, too. We walked around and shopped. I was in my glory. We made memories that will last a lifetime.
The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace were insane. We were not allowed to take pictures, but the Dining Room and the Drawing Rooms had the most beautiful ceilings. The “backyard” was huge, and we got sucked in to the gift shop.
Every time we got High Tea, it was an incredible experience. We went to The Ritz. It was in in the Palm Court, and we had tea, sandwiches, scones, pastries, and a glass of champagne. The mirrors and the table settings were all so pretty. We had so many waiters. It was like a dream.
And we saw the Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey! The inside and the outside looked like it was Downton Abbey. The dining room, for example, they could have walked in and started shooting the show right then. We were there for a charity event called “Heroes at Highclere,” and there were speakers all day. We saw Hugh Bonneville, the actor who played Lord Grantham, and he was saying that they were going to shoot their movie there on Monday.
And through it all, I kept wondering what if I couldn’t walk? If I couldn’t talk? What if I have a second stroke? I would like to travel the world while I still can. And if I don’t have that second stroke, then I’ll be grateful.
Every day, I take more steps. It is hard, but I keep getting better.
To read Claudia's previous blog, click here.