Claudia's Blog #20 - The Aftermath of the Anniversary

Blog 20 – The Aftermath of the Anniversary

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano is the Happiness Hero at John’s Crazy Socks. At the age of only 34, Claudia 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 stayed up all night before my second anniversary.  I called in sick to work the next day because I just needed to be alone.  I was thinking about the day the stroke happened. I couldn’t help but relive that day at the Huntington Historical Society.  I had a headache.  If I took it seriously, I would have thought it was a migraine.  I would never imagine the hell that headache had in store for me.  Thank the higher powers that I wasn’t alone.  Thank the higher power I was surrounded by people.  I am so grateful that I am alive. 

I like the quote I keep on my desk. It says, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past” (Thomas Jefferson), and the dreams of the future I am holding on for that.  In my personal world, I can talk and its okay.  When it comes to my husband, family, and friends, I feel like I am getting my point across when I speak.  But as far as the outside worlds goes, my speech is going to hell.  

Over the weekend, I went to Manhasset North Shore Hospital, 110 Therapists, and I went to Huntington Hospital and I said, “Thank you” to the nurses and doctors, and I brought food for them.  Last year, I only went to Manhasset Hospital.  This year, I wanted to say thank you to the team who helped me get to where I am today.  I saw the neurologist who diagnosed my stroke at Huntington Hospital.  She arranged for my transferred to Manhasset.  I am forever in her debt. 

And Manhasset, I am so thankful to the nurses and doctors who work there.  I stayed for 11 days, and once I got through my stroke, they were testing me trying to find a reason for stroke.  They couldn’t find the reason, but they tried.  My nurses were the calm in the middle of the storm.  They took excellent care of me.  Neereepa and Danielle were exceptional nurses, I am so thankful for them.

And my visit to the 110 therapists proved to be interesting.  I said thank you to my occupational therapists and my speech therapists, as well.  And in the course of conversation, my hand came up –not in conversation, but physically, upright.  This has been happening since I got off the steroids.  I stopped seeing my occupational therapist after 6 months, when I was still taking steroids.  He asked if I took Botox.  I tried Botox twice. It didn’t help.  He said if I continue going to occupational therapy, he has a plan.  Through exercise, my hand could get better.  I was relieved to hear this.  Trouble is: occupational therapy is only open from M-F, 8am to 4pm.  I am in speech therapy Monday and Wednesday at 8am.  And I get to work at 9:25am on those days so I’m not sure how I could fit it into my busy schedule. Maybe I will go on a lunch break.  Who knows? But it is exciting. 

On my first ‘strokaversary,’ as I call it, I got London.  So, it was my first anniversary of owning him.  He is my own therapy dog.  I can’t believe how big he got.  I was looking back at pictures from my first day—he was 9 pounds.  Now he is 75 pounds, but he is a pile of mush.  I am looking down at him right now. I love him.  He really got me through my second year of stroke recovery.  Dogs are the best.

Thank you to my husband, my family, and my friends.  I can’t imagine where I would be if it wasn’t for you all.  And to my parents, I can’t imagine what it feels like to be faced with the possibility of losing your daughter.  I really can’t.  But you can get through it and survive. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.  You have been a rock, a shoulder to cry on, the place which I confess my inner most fears.  I don’t know what I would ever do without you.  Mommy and Daddy, I love you so much!

So, there you have it.   My second anniversary since I had the stroke.  It was all about saying thank you.

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