Because of My Stroke
Survivor Denice DeAntonio with her daughter Andrea
It was inconceivable during those first weeks, when I was critically ill, that good would come from having a stroke. However, I found out later having a stroke provided new experiences and opportunities. One day, this became very clear to me.
Recently, I watched an amazing young woman, my daughter Andrea, speak to a group of nurses about how my stroke affected her life. I was filled with awe and pride at her poise and grace. Four years ago, my stroke rocked her world. I had a hemorrhagic right temporal (part of the brain next to the ear), parietal lobe stroke (largest part of the brain above the ear), followed by a craniotomy.
After the stroke, the craniotomy and a broken leg, I doubted I would be able to see Andrea graduate from high school. I spent months receiving intensive rehabilitation. Initially, I could not walk or read. I needed to use a wheelchair at all times. Standing for any length of time seemed impossible. But with rehab, I learned to walk, read and navigate my world in new ways. I was able to see my daughter graduate from high school, as well as accompany her to her first day of college.
On the day of her speech, Andrea and I were presenting an educational program — a mother and daughter’s journey through a stroke and recovery — to Parish Nurses. We shared how my stroke affected us individually and as a family. We walked the audience through each step of our journey, from the initial shock to recovery. We talked about both the good and the sad. We also shared humorous stories that still make us laugh.
I am now four years post-stroke, and Andrea is preparing to graduate from college. Recovery continues, but I still deal with the effects of my stroke. I have left-side weakness and visual field cuts. Due to these deficits, I have been unable to work and have lost some independence. It has been a long road, on which I encountered hills and valleys. As I stood next to my daughter sharing our story, I realized I was on top of one of the hills on my road to recovery. It took an immense amount of work from me and my caregivers in order for me to be standing for an hour with my daughter presenting a speech we had developed. Tears came to my eyes as I became acutely aware I was sharing this special moment with my daughter, not despite my stroke, but because of it.
DENICE DeANTONIO Survivor Fleetwood, Pennsylvania