7 STROKECONNECTION Winter 2017
ho 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.
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
Survivor Denice DeAntonio with her dad, Marco
Sterley, and her service dog, Finley