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 of the challenges facing stroke recovery patients and people in recovery can take strength and inspiration from knowing they are not alone.
I thought about what I am going to write about in this blog today. I believe that I am alone, that is what I am going to write about. All of these people—my mother, my husband, my best friend—want to be there for me. But they don’t know how I feel. They never had a stroke. Even if they did, it would not be MY STROKE. My feelings, my losses, my impressions of the stroke. I think the fact that I had a stroke, it’s random. I don’t feel like there was a higher power involved. I don’t feel that “it” had a plan for me, or everything happens for a reason. It was random, it was—because they have no idea how I had it—indiscriminate. I have feelings, but I don’t always want to burden my mother or father with them. As far as my husband goes, he is getting ready for the tax season, and he’s going for his Masters. He has enough to deal with. I am alone. The only person that I could talked to is my therapist, Steve. And it is on his recommendation that I open my mouth and talk to the people around me who care for me. But how do I do that? How do I talk to the people that I love about my sadness, confusion, and anger? They will say, “Take your happiness pills.” I don’t want to.
I would like to be me before the stroke. But I can’t. I would like to be the funny, outspoken, and smart person I was before the stroke. But I can’t. That funny, outspoken, smart girl is something from the past. I don’t know who I am now. I love history, but when I think of my career in history, I think of that girl. I think of the girl who was not afraid of the public. I still love the public, but I’m scared to talk to them because I have aphasia. As far as sitting at a desk all day, normally it would have made me cry. Here at John’s Crazy Socks I don’t have an issue with that, thank the higher powers!
I once loved working. After the stroke – not so much. Time is so precious to me. I don’t want to work but I have to. If I didn’t work, we would lose our home. I would rather want to work because it is my choice. MY CHOICE. Not because I had a stroke and must work to survive. I don’t want to work just because I need occupational therapy or physical therapy. I wouldn’t mind volunteering. I would like to volunteer at the hospital. I would like to listen and talk to other stroke survivors.
Enough of that. I must be depressed. But I don’t want to go on the happiness pills. Why? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m wallowing in depression, yet, if I go back on the happiness pills it means I will never be happy on my own. I want to be happy, but as far as my stroke recovery, I don’t think I will ever be happy. I just want it over. I want to be the woman that I was before the stroke. Inside me, I am the same as I was before the stroke. IT WAS SO RANDOM! So random. I can’t get over that. I am a good woman. I have the feeling of belonging to the spirit of nature that I feel we are all part of. I still believe that.
Last week, I joined my co-workers at John’s Crazy Socks at the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) Gala at the Gotham Hall. It was a beautiful fundraiser and John’s Crazy Socks was a sponsor. And John, who has Down syndrome, auctioned off two opportunities to design your own sock. We raised $15,000 for NDSS, and we contributed another $10,000 through sponsorship, tickets, and auction purchases.
We met so many of the Down syndrome lobbyists and public relations associates, and they were so wonderful. And I donated a small amount to the NDSS, as well. I enjoyed that!
I’m sorry, I feel the sad lately, so I know that comes across in my blog. I will get better. I promise.
Every day, every week, I take more steps. It is hard, but I keep getting better. And maybe it’s due to that fact that it has been 2 years. But IT IS HARD.