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 went to a Stroke Survivor’s group this Friday. I was scared going in to it, but I have my mom. It was at North Shore Manhasset Hospital. That’s where I went for 12 days, same place where I had my stroke. It was run by a volunteer. My mom and I went, and we are going to go again this Friday. It was good to go and talk about my feelings since I had the stroke, and I felt like people understood me. I would like to find a group with younger people who suffered from stroke. The people in it were lovely. I will go back. There was no judgement and there was no rolling of their eyes. It was a safe environment.
At the end of the session, a physical therapist person led us in some exercises. It showed me how much physical therapy or occupational therapy is needed. As far as my hand goes, when I finished it, I could move it more easily. I mean, it lasted an hour, but that something!
After we wrapped it up with my stroke survivors’ group, we went to lunch. Then we went to the neurologist’s office to pick up my prescription for occupational therapy and physical therapy. We went to CVS because I had to pick up my happiness pills. I had them for 3 days before I took them. I am writing to you on the happiness pills. I don’t feel them yet. I have mixed feelings about it. But as long as it will make me feel better, then I am for it.
Later in the week, I gave my prescriptions to my therapist office, and I have appointments next Friday. It is for my evaluations in occupational therapy and physical therapy. Then, I will go to the Stroke Survivor’s Group. At the closing of day, I have speech therapy. It’s a lot, but I am excited for this. I am excited because I am making time for me, for my recovery.
As far as my emotional state—I’m a mess, but I’m calm. What I mean to say is, I don’t cry all the time and I don’t keep it all in. I let it out. I talk to my parents. And I talk to my friends. And they might not be able to respond, but I still let it out. And we will see about my stroke survivor’s group. I can talk but unless some other stroke survivors are in my age range, I won’t get the full experience out of it. I will either have to go to the city or start or separate group for younger stroke survivors.
I actually have been thinking about it. When I was at the Town Historian office, I did the ‘Clio Circle.” A group under 35, who like me, wants to be entertained in a mansion, museum, or an art space. We had happy hours, and we got to tour. There would be a PowerPoint and program presented to us. And it’s a lot of fun! We went across Long Island. And it was a lot of work. And I would have to really commit to doing it, if I started my own group. Maybe I will. And maybe I will re-start the Clio Circle, however, as far as under 35 I would not be able to attend. So maybe under 45. HAHA! But starting a younger generation of stroke survivor’s group, and restarting the Clio Circle group, I must be crazy! But I’m still thinking about it.
Every day, every week, I take more steps. It is hard, but I keep getting better. I am going to get better!