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.
Last Friday I went to speech therapy and Judy Cavallo was telling me about a different patient. She remembered that I was talking about starting a stroke survivor group, and she told me if I ever need it, I can meet in her in the conference room. That’s good. It’s an idea. But if I start my own stroke survivors’ group, we should meet at happy hour or at the Huntington Hospital. I would organize a Younger Generation of Stroke Survivors, maybe under 50 or something. It pushed me because people around my area are searching for a group.
As the numbers rise in strokes among the younger generation, you need to have separate groups for Going Back to Work, Grief Counseling, Not Being Able to have Your Own Baby, and Not Being A Mother the Way You Should Be. Those are the groups that I am interested in attending. If I organize a group, I would like to be it social. That is why I would like to hold it at a happy hour, because social events can be the difference in getting you out there. You have to get out there to socialize; the experience after a stroke is different but still good. No one thinks about that. No one thinks about the younger stroke victims. Everyone thinks about the people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, but no one thinks about the people who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s.
The young stroke survivors have different priorities than the older stroke survivors. We have kids, not grandkids. We have a job, we are not retired. We might have a spouse. We might be dating. We have a mortgage. The financial issues are huge. I am not saying that the older survivors don’t have these issues, too. They are just different. I am a different person going through a stroke, I have different issues then older people do, and I would like to share them with people my own age. I just look at the webpage for the National Stroke Association, and it says:
“Support groups are a key method to find support during the recovery process.
Support groups provide attendees with vital recovery information and allow stroke survivors and their families and friends to find support and form friendship among
others who understand their journey.”
I would like people who understand my journey. I know that the Stroke Survivors’ Group at North Shore Manhasset understands my journey, but not to a certain extent. They can’t feel the ripping of my heart for leaving the Huntington Historical Society. They can’t feel I am working to pay my mortgage, and I rather be getting better all the time. I would rather be in speech therapy 5 days a week.
Every day, every week, I take more steps. It is hard, but I keep getting better.