Happy Place Found



I often see pictures of friends on social media while on a beach vacation. There are usually sun-kissed people smiling back at me and a gentle wave rolling up to the shore. I can almost smell the salt air, feel the sand on my toes and taste the caramel corn. Along with this picture, is a comment, “my happy place.” I have been fortunate to have been able to take many beach vacations in my life, before and after my stroke. I love the beauty and the power of the ocean.

In December 2008, I had a massive hemorrhagic stroke. I spent several weeks in an acute care hospital. For three weeks, I spent time in the Intensive Care Unit and Surgical Intensive Care Unit after my stroke. I then went on to receive intensive therapy at a rehabilitation hospital for three months.

When I eventually returned home, I searched and searched for my “happy place.” Maybe it was getting a job. So, I began a job search at a fevered pitch. I applied and interviewed for different jobs but was not successful. It is hard to work when you have limited vision and cannot drive. I thought maybe I would find happiness when I no longer needed a walker and could walk with a cane. So, I continued with my therapies. I eventually was able to walk with only a single point cane and short distances without any assistive devices.

I decided to volunteer. I evaluated what I was good at: teaching and writing. I found volunteer opportunities.

I did find happiness volunteering, but something was still missing. I volunteered at the local Community College tutoring GED students. I then volunteered with the Vision Resource organization. Today I volunteer at the local library, which I love.

One day I was sitting on my deck with my family: my husband, Mike; my son, Christopher; daughter, Andrea; and son-in-law, Jose. We were laughing and talking. I realized at that moment, I was in my happy place. Nothing changed around me, but the shift was within me. When I started to accept my life, my disabilities, and the losses, it opened the door for new possibilities and happiness. Acceptance is my happy place.

DENICE DeANTONIO | Survivor Fleetwood, Pennsylvania

The members of Denice’s “happy place” (l to r): husband Mike, Denice, son Christopher, daughter Andrea and son-in-law José, along with Denice’s friend and service dog, Finley
The members of Denice’s “happy place” (l to r): husband Mike, Denice, son Christopher, daughter Andrea and son-in-law José, along with Denice’s friend and service dog, Finley


 


 

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-art series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!