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Jodi C.
Jodi C.
Survivor

Tracey E.
Tracey E.
Survivor

Shannon A.
Shannon A.
Family

Bob B.
Bob B.
Survivor

Owen R.
Owen R.
Survivor

Cathedra Cross-M.


Caregiver

On October 19, 2003, I was at the organ performing my duties as the Minister of Music for the United Methodist church where I worked for over 30 years. I kept motioning to my sound technician to turn the music down because it was seemingly getting louder and louder. Later on, I would discover that it was not the music, but me. I was beginning to experience the symptoms of a stroke.

Less than one year earlier, I had begun dating a beautiful woman who had been in corporate America traveling most of the U.S. She had just left the company in August 2003 and had talked about taking a few months and spending time with her family and me until at least the beginning of 2004 at which time she would start seeking employment. Little did we both know, she would become a full‐time caregiver for me and later, her father.

After the ambulance was called, my choir director rushed to Cathy's church to tell her that I was being taken to the hospital, but they were not sure why. Both of our churches are in downtown Charleston and I was transported to a hospital in West Ashley. She got to the hospital about the same time as the ambulance. Cathy really didn't know but a couple of my family members since our relationship was still somewhat new. I worried about her and what she might be going through not knowing what was wrong with me. After hours in the ER, I was later transferred to ICU, and she and my family members were allowed to see me. From that night on, this beautiful woman was by my side, day in and day out. At the time we were not even engaged so she had no real reason to stick with me. She had no assurance of what would happen, but she never left my side. She went from being wined and dined by me to having to feed me, bathe me and assist me with many other simple tasks. While I was in ICU, she would come early in the morning after she had done what she needed to do for her parents who were both 83 at the time and in pretty good health, and then she would come and spend time with me, go back home, check on them to make sure they had what they needed, come back to the hospital and be there until the last visiting hour. The nurses would allow her to stay later until I fell asleep. When I was transferred to the floor, she would sleep in the window seat of my room. She and the wife of the patient next to me would talk to each other every night and encourage each other. They would eat some of their meals together and they became very close friends. Funny, he and I never met.

Then I was discharged and began my in‐patient rehab. We were not allowed to have visitors during the hours of therapy, but Cathy would come by and have lunch with me and come back later in the evening and sit with me, bathe me and help me prepare for the next day. She would sometimes prepare bedtime snacks for me. Cathy was no stranger to the unit I was on. The staff showed her where supplies were if there were things I needed, and she would get blankets, snacks and other items for me. When I was dischaged from there, I had out‐patient rehab for more than a year, three times a week. Cathy was there learning the exercises and helped me with them at home. She had gotten so good at some of them, my therapists asked her if she would be interested in becoming a physical therapist. While I was in the hospital, Cathy sought the help of two of her close friends to move everything out of my third floor apartment. They had my furniture moved and put some in storage, found buyers for some and cleaned my apartment for the complex to be able to rent to someone else. I could no longer live alone and moved in with my father and brother.

On one of my first passes from the rehab hospital, Cathy took me to dinner at very nice restaurant in downtown Charleston. The streets were very uneven which neither of us thought about prior to going. Well, I felt the entire place was looking at me and wondered why this young man is walking in with a quad cane. She assured me that no one was watching, and I was doing just fine. She was my biggest supporter and motivator. She cleared it with my doctor and took me to Disney World, walked with me so I could participate in the local bridge run/walk and even took me out driving, once I was ready. Everyone thought she had lost her mind, but she had faith in God and faith in me. I don't know where I would be without her. She battled with my former employer to ensure that I received the proper disability benefits and then with Social Security, who denied me benefits twice. She kept trying until I received them. She is continuing to deal with them as they stopped my benefits two years ago.

I proposed to her November 5, 2005, and we were married August 6, 2006. Together we work with the Charleston County Stroke Action Team to educate our community on the effects of Stroke and are local Ambassadors for Power to End Stroke.

 

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Display of the Faces of Stroke stories does not imply National Stroke Association's endorsement of any product, treatment, service or entity. National Stroke Association strongly recommends that people ask a healthcare professional about diagnosis and treatment questions before using any product, treatment or service. The views expressed through the stories reflect those of the authors and do not reflect the opinion of National Stroke Association.

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