Sunday, March 25, 2012


This is Pat Ozella's story about her stroke experience as told by her husband Tony. Pat and Tony are members of the camp's board of directors and are very active in the camps and many of the fund raisers we have for the camp.

  Told by her husband Tony

            Saturday, Oct.20, 2001 started off as a beautiful autumn day, but ended up being the worst day in our lives. After going out to breakfast, a usual Saturday custom, we came home and I started to replace the window in our family room. Pat was sitting on the couch, drinking her coffee, watching me so she could help if needed. Just after I removed the old window, I saw her get up and stumble and then fall down (never spilling her coffee). I thought that she just lost her balance until I went over to help her get up, then I realized that something bad was occurring. She could not move her right arm and was having trouble speaking. Our daughter, Jenni (an Occupational Therapist at OSF) was on her way over to visit, so I called her on her cell-phone and told her what happened. She was sure that Pat was having a stroke and told me to call 911 right away, which I did. The Rescue Squad was there within minutes along with one of our daughters’ friends, who Jenni called and was a nurse that lived close-by. We were at OSF with-in one hour of Pat having the stroke and Jenni thought that things would not be too bad, because of getting there in time to receive TPA. The only problem was that Pats’ stroke was due to a hemorrhage in her brain, not a clot. The Doctors kept calling it a “big bleed”, which turned out being as bad as it sounded! The other problem was that it was too deep in her brain to perform any type of surgery on, without destroying more of her brain, so we just had to wait for the bleeding to stop or for Pat to die. They couldn’t tell us what to expect, but did suggest that we all say good-by to Pat, in case she didn’t survive and the Priest gave her “Last Rites”. Pat did survive!!

            After seven grueling weeks in the hospital Pat came home in a wheelchair and not being able to talk. Then we started outpatient therapy, OT, PT, and Speech. Pat had a very good attitude, which was the most important thing and really worked hard to improve; she can now walk with a cane and usually communicate what she wants by various means (some speech, actions, spelling, and expressions). We really feel fortunate, compared to other survivors’ stories about losing friends and even family after their strokes. We never lost friends; we even made new friends, thanks to our Support Group and Stroke Camp!  Another good that has happened is that Pat always wanted grandkids and now has five with one more coming to keep her busy. Pat really enjoys going to Camp, going on vacation, playing in three card clubs, going to Wednesday morning coffee and many other social events. Life is truly what you make of it!

            I mentioned Stroke Camp a few times; this was started in 2004 by a member of our Stroke Support Group as a weekend get-a-way at a local Camp/Retreat Center. We had one camp the first year, then two the following year, and, after word got out about the Camp, four the next year with Stroke Survivors and Caregivers from seven States attending. After seeing how much impact the Camp had on Survivors, the Director decided to go Nationwide with the Camps. Pat and I are on the Board of Directors and volunteer to work at the Camps. This year there are eighteen Camps scheduled in various States. We will be volunteering in Colorado and Texas and maybe Springfield, IL. These camps are all funded by local Hospitals or Fundraisers and donations. I urge anyone who has a loved one or friend that has suffered a Stroke to tell them about Camp. You can find out more information about Camp at our website:

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