Days With My Dad
Who knew two terrible events—a stroke and a heart attack—could be a blessing? This is exactly what happened. I was only 42 when I suffered a near-fatal hemorrhagic stroke. Before the stroke, I was busy, working full time as a high school teacher and raising two teenage children, all while attending graduate school. My life was beyond full.
After my stroke, my husband, daughter, son, parents, siblings, neighbors and friends rallied to support me. My road to recovery was a long and winding one. After many months of inpatient rehabilitation, I came home to continue outpatient rehabilitation. My mother, father and mother-in-law shared the responsibility of getting me to appointments. Everyone did what they could to help me. My parents were both working, so their time was limited. We did our best to manage a difficult situation. We were wading through uncharted waters and did not know what to expect. We muddled through, day by day.
I lost a portion of my vision because of my stroke. I suffer from visual field cuts — my visual field is reduced on the left side of each eye. I was forced to give up driving and stop working. I became dependent on others to take me to appointments and errands.
Survivor Denice DeAntonio with her dad, Marco Sterley, and her service dog, Finley
Things took a drastic turn a year after my stroke when I received a call saying that my father was in the hospital suffering from chest pain. He was having a heart attack. We found out it was a significant myocardial infarction. He needed stents to open the vessels and would definitely need to make lifestyle changes. My father began to diligently watch his diet and exercise. It was a wakeup call for him.
Eventually, my father decided to retire. This allowed him to help me get to my doctor and therapy appointments and run errands. We began spending a lot of time together. I started to affectionately call these my ‘Days with Daddy.’ At some point, I realized that if I had not had a stroke and my dad had not had a heart attack, we would not have this time that we now spend together. We both would have been so busy with our lives and our careers that these memorable moments would have eluded us.
I wish I had not had a stroke and that my dad never had a heart attack. But they did occur, and I am grateful for the gifts I have been given because of these events. Especially the special time with my father.
Denice DeAntonio | Survivor