My name is Jay Katz. I was moving to Colorado (from Connecticut) almost eight years ago when I had a major stroke. For the first four months after the stroke I couldn't talk. I hadn't even gotten an apartment yet. I had been in Colorado for about two weeks when the stroke occurred. There I was in a Colorado hospital not knowing anyone trying to recover from a stroke. It was pretty awful. After three months I was transferred to a Longmeadow, MA nursing home, near where my brother and his family lives. It was still pretty awful but at least most of my family and some of my friends could visit me more often. I still couldn't talk, so they gave me a computer that could talk for me. I would type the words and the computer would say the word and would talk for me. It was slow going because I could only type with with one finger. I had learned how to touch-type but I couldn't use my right hand as it was more damaged from the stroke then the left. It was still pretty bad but at least I could communicate better.
Life in the nursing home was pretty bad. I was the youngest person on my floor and the food was pretty bad. After about a month I began to talk again. The stroke didn't affect my memory at all, just my body. I couldn't walk or write, I was right-handed and learned how to write with my right hand; the side that was that was most affected by the stroke. About three years ago, I got an IPad for my birthday. That allowed me to surf the Internet and to have email again. Up until that point, all I did was lay in bed and watch TV. The IPad allowed me to connect with the world again. Now I have a laptop also (I was a computer consultant for 18 years before the stroke) that I bought after I moved from the nursing home.
Now I was on the IPad for about three hours a day. At least I was doing something besides watching TV. My brother kept trying to find a place that would take me besides the nursing home, but was unsuccessful. About three years ago, I started going to a support group for stroke survivors. Everyone there had at least one stroke, some of them had more than one stroke. Finally I could talk to some people that could understand some of what I was going through. And most of the people I met in the group were closer to my age, and some were even younger. They were nice too. At first they talked about strokes for my benefit, they had heard it before. Then they talked about other stuff, their vacations, what they did for the week, and so on some even brought pictures for
us to look at. They met once a week and it was nice to get out of the nursing home for a while.
My brother finally did find a new program run by the state of Massachusetts that got did get people like me out of nursing homes and back into the community.Two Halloweens ago I moved into a new house in Pittsfield, MA, which was finished being built a month before I moved in. I live with three other roommates, a guy and two other women. One of the women has MS, the other two have brain injuries. We all get along fine. We each have our own bedroom and TV. There is also a 42" flat screen TV in the living room if we want to watch out there. We usually watch movies on Friday night. The house has a gas fireplace, a screened in deck, a vegetable garden, and a van that takes us wherever we want to go into the community. Needless to say I'm much happier here than in the nursing home.
My point is,you can survive a stroke.I still have a long way to go but I have also have come a long way too. Having a stroke is like starting your life all over again. You still can have a rewarding life, you just have work at it.
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