Sunday, August 5, 2012


by Chuck Jones

We would like to welcome Lauren Kramer, our new Coordinator of Support Services, to the Retreatand Refresh Stroke Camp™ staff. Lauren has been with us full-time since the end of February and works behind the scenes for RRSC.

Lauren is a board-certified music therapist and started volunteering at camp in the summer of 2009 as one of the music therapists and enjoyed it so much that she wanted to spend time with us in other roles. As luck would have it, we were in need of an employee and she was eager to jump on board!

Lauren will be doing much of the behind-the-scenes work for all of our camps this year in addition to attending quite a few camps in different administrative positions. She ran our 5th grade education program this spring and has helped with fundraisers and other special events. Lauren also co-conducts our local Chime Strokers group and enjoys the opportunity to use her music therapy degree as well as her other talents.

Chuck Hofvander is a stroke survivor and fellow camper. He is writing short stories for this blog about those who come to camp. Not just survivors and care givers but staff, music therapists, etc. Attached is one of many that he has completed so far. These are cut and pasted from other sources and as a result Blogger does some automatic formatting I have no control over. Other than that, they are presented in their original form, and have been approved by those he is writing about.

This story was also published in the June/July Camp Newsletter.

By Chuck Hofvander, Stroke Survivor

Rosie was 45, an independent woman with a great attitude; she greets most people with a smile and says “whatcha doin”. But her great attitude didn’t protect her from stroke.

It was on a Thursday in May 2003, she went to see the ophthalmologist because something was wrong with her right eye. She was told to see a neurologist. Rosie wasn’t able to get the appointment for weeks and after a short exam, the neurologist told her she must go to the hospital.

At the Loyola Medical Center it was found she had a brain aneurism on the left side. She went to surgery immediately, it lasted nine hours. And five hours after the operation she had a hemorrhagic stroke. Her parents were told she had a 50/50 chance of living.

She was in rehab for four months. She had to give up her lovely home and move in with her parents for four years. Then in 2006, Rosie met Ken at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital’s 4th of July picnic. They are like matching pairs of salt and pepper shakers. Ken had a stroke on the right side of his brain; Rosie had one on the left side. They got married in Reno Nevada in April, 2008 and you would think they had a fairy tale marriage but on January 16, 2010, Rosie’s son Nicky died at the age of 24.

She still has a good attitude but it’s not the same. She dreams of the two of them together and greatly misses the time they had. Rosie says she can deal with the stroke but she has trouble dealing with the death of her son. There are no guarantees in life.


Anonymous said...

I met the amazing Lauren at camp this past weekend in Tiskilwa,Il. We had a great group of survivors, caregivers, & volunteers. I will definitely go again. Rosie - I am sending you the biggest hug I have. You have been through so much! My son (only child) is 22 & I would be lost without him. I believe your Nicky is with you, watching over you, & very proud of you! Please hang in there - you inspire us & we need you! Love, Leslie

Anonymous said...

I think maybe your software needs some work (or maybe it's me - always possible) my comment appeared briefly & then disappeared. But if you click on "post comments (atom)" below it is in there. What am I doing wrong?

Anonymous said...

OK sorry now it is back so I'll shut up now. Patience, patience.

Chuck J. said...

Not sure what's going on there. Please keep me posted if anything like that happens again. I monitor all replies so you can leave comments anywhere and I'll see them. I did read your comment and thank you for your kind words. I'm trying to see if I can get in contact with Rosie to make sure she sees your comment about her. Her story was written by another person who interviewed her, so she may not be reading this blog herself.