Claudia's Blog #18 - Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano is the Happiness Hero at John’s Crazy Socks. While still a young woman (Claudia is only 36), 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 off the challenges facing stroke recovery patients and people in recovery can take strength and inspiration from knowing they are not alone.

Merry Christmas!  It is just days away and I am so excited.  Santa Claus is coming and for the first time ever, I will be playing Santa Claus to my dog, London, who just turned ONE!  He’s no longer little puppy but a cute big dog.  He’s a 75 lb. pile of mush.  Every day, around 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening, I sit on the couch, and he sits right next to me and we watch TV.

I was in the Dominican Republic a few weeks ago, and I had a great time.  I swam with dolphins and relaxed by the pool and the beach.  I even saw a baseball stadium.  It was a fabulous time, except for my hand. I would like to cut it off.  I thought that it would be better going down to the Dominican Republic because it’s hot there, but it wasn’t.  Maybe I will investigate a surgery to cut it off.  I’m serious.  The only reason that I don’t do it is because someday someone might find a care for neuroplasticity. 

I just got asked to speak at an American Stroke Association “Go Red for Women” committee breakfast.  It’s only for 5 minutes, but who cares?  I got asked to speak about my stroke survivorship.  I am so excited.  I don’t know why.  But it will matter to the women that I am talking to. 

I met with Meredith Viera for lunch.  My Aunt Paula won the opportunity at an auction, and she gave it to me.  I went with my friend, Ellen, and we stayed for 3 hours. We had a fabulous time!  In the course of my conversation, I told her about my stroke, my recovery to date, and how it made me feel.  Meredith Viera has a husband with MS, and she told me that he wrote a book about it.  And I responded and said that I would like to write a book about my stroke and my survivorship, and all the feelings I would like to express, but I can’t due to my aphasia.  She said that I had nothing to lose and should just do it.  She said that my blog is just the beginning.  I would like to thank her because I am going to write a book.  I needed her positive reaction to get me to do it.  I talked about other things, too.  She talked about her growing up in Providence, and I told her that my sister lives there.  We talked about her tap lessons, (Ellen was talking about her rehearsals and her tap lessons), and politics, and about her professional career.  We even talked about John’s Crazy Socks, and of course, I brought her a box of our crazy socks.  It was a great experience!

On January 11, it will be almost 2 years since I had my stroke. It’s Christmas and I am feeling overwhelmed.  At work and at home I am tired.  I was at speech therapy this morning, and it was hard.  And I don’t know if it’s because I am tired or if it’s because it’s hard.  And stayed home all weekend, and I went to bed at 9:30 pm because I am exhausted. It’s Christmas, I love Christmas; however, I am still dealing with my stroke and the issues that come along with that.  If you Google stroke and tiredness, you will find an article that says 10% of people who had a stroke are still tired 2 years later.  And I am one of them.  I hate that, I really hate that.  I went to bed around 9 pm last night.  This morning my alarm went off at 6 am. I was so tried, I shut it off and I fell back asleep for an hour. It was 7 am and as far as making it to work early, I got in at 8:30 instead of 7:30.  I can’t stay late because I have speech therapy homework to do due in the morning at.  It’s hard but my mom said, “It’s hard on everyone.  If you want to cry, go ahead.  I will be there for you.”  So, I cry all the time.  I cried three times yesterday.  I dream of a time when I am not dealing with the stroke.  When I talk like I was before the stroke.  Every day I dream of that.  Maybe it’s hard because it is Christmas, or I am dealing with the fact that on January 11th, it will be 2 years already.  I love Christmas.  The lights, the trees, the carols, the busy people you see at the mall or the village, getting the perfect gift for someone else.  

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