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.
I had my meeting with the American Stroke Association yesterday. Leslie and Jessica were lovely. I told my story, and I didn’t cry at all. They connected me with an online support group, and they will give my information to people my own age that they know. They are going to merge with the National Stroke Association, the organized of the Comeback Trail, a walk that I am going to. The American Stroke Association is going to be there on Saturday. The head of this chapter is going to kick it off, and I should introduce myself to her. They gave me an Ambassador Release form and I filled it out. We will see. It was a good meeting, and I am happy that I connected with this team.
This morning I had an excellent time at speech therapy. My homework was almost without error. And my speech was out of this world. I mean, I have aphasia, so “out of this world” you need to take with a grain of salt. In terms of my writing, I am on level 4 out of 8 levels. There are 20 lessons in each level. So, I am half way there. Oh my god, I am only half way there. At this rate, I would still be working in a year. And I will be going to speech therapy for 2 years. Thank God that Judy likes me, and I like her! This would be a shitty (I don’t know if I can use that word) situation if I had to pay her, and I would still be going. But thank God it’s not like that at all. HA HA!
November is my anniversary with Judy. One year ago, I was going nuts because I wasn’t in any kind of speech therapy, and my mother was ready to kill me because I was depressed, and I wasn’t admitted it. My mother did her research and gave me an appointment with Judy. And thankfully she did, because since then I have been working on my speech. So, thank you Mommy, so much! And Judy I spoke to her a month before I had my stroke. I was talking about the professional business class. Go figure! Anyway, I went before Thanksgiving and she gave me an evaluation, and after Thanksgiving I began work. I don’t say it enough, but thank you Judy for everything, my speech, my writing, for dealing with my moods. I will forever be grateful to you. And thank you Aunt Carolyn Buechler, because she is a speech pathologist and she helped for the first 5 months after the stroke. And thank you to everyone behind me, I could not made it through this past 21 months without all of you. I love all of you!
And now, to flip you around, I would like to tell you about my hair. I just cut it short in May 2018. I have had it for 6 months. This is the first time I had it short it 10 years, and probably I have never had this short. And, truthfully, I love it. But, if you want to know the truth, I cut it because I can’t stand my hands and my long hair. If I wanted to dry my hair, and I wanted to dry it straight, I couldn’t do it because I had to hold the dryer with my left hand, and I had to style my hair with my right hand. My right hand, my three fingers. It didn’t not work. I struggled for 6 months, and I went to the hair stylist, (who also had a stroke a year before me), and I said, “Chop it off!” And he said, “Are you sure?” “No, because you have to do it now,” I replied. And you must understand, John, my hair stylist, has been doing my hair since I was 12 and I was unsure about cutting it off. But he did it, and I love it! See, it’s due to the stroke, that I cut my hair and I love it when it’s curly. And now I can do nothing with it—no scrunchies, no headbands, no bracelets—and I love that. Maybe it’s because I lost weight (40 pounds. I went from a size 12 to a size 6 after my stroke), which is another thing I love that is a result of the stroke. There is no divine reason for having my stroke, but if I had to have it, than at least I lost weight and I have a short haircut, because I LOVE BOTH OF THOSE THINGS!!!!
I keep telling myself, every day, every week, I take more steps. It is hard, but I keep getting better. And maybe, you will look and like what you see. I do! 😉