February 21, 2018

Snappy + Sassy: Betty Kogen

Here is my mom, Betty Kogen ... the woman who gave me life, not once, but TWICE!! (See HuffPost, "My Stroke: Still Here.")

Here she is contemplating which store she liked most: Uniqlo or IKea. Decided it was a tie ... "But then there's Neiman-Marcus, of course."

87 years young ... and full of wonder!

January 28, 2018

David Brodnick Marries Libby Mattern

"Please deliver requests for marriage at least six weeks before the legal event," writes The New York Times. I had started writing David and Libby's in the beginning of April and made a self-deadline to submit it by mid-month. Surely, thatwas enough time for a June 17 wedding. The problem was: I had a stroke on April 16. 
The announcement languished on my desktop for months as I began my recovery from Strokeland. 
"I have to get the announcement in!" I said to my daughter. She helped me finish and submit it. Alas, we were too late.
So here, for your reading pleasure, is the announcement of the beautiful marriage of David and Libby.
*  *  *
Elizabeth (Libby) Marie Mattern and David Hale Brodnick are to be married on June 17 at Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury, Mass.  Kate Mattern, sister of the bride, received a marriage designation from the State of Massachusetts to officiate the wedding.

The bride, 28, is director of production at Malia Mills, swimwear and ready-to-wear company based in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Cornell University where she received a bachelor of science degree in Fiber Science and Apparel Design.

She is the daughter of Mary and Harry Mattern of Kingston, Pennsylvania. Her father is a local attorney and town solicitor of Kingston. Her mother is an artist and art teacher at Wyoming Valley West High School in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Brodnick, 28, is a vice president at BlackRock, a global investment management firm. He graduated from Cornell University where he received a bachelor of arts degree in History and Near Eastern Studies.

He is the son of Bonni and Andrew Brodnick of Tarrytown, New York. His father is a real estate attorney in Rye Brook, New York. His mother is a writer and author of “Pound Ridge Past.”

Although the couple only met briefly at Cornell, their paths crossed several times. They were re-introduced after graduation at a New Year’s Eve party that Mr. Brodnick and his roommates hosted in Brooklyn.  
                                                                     # # #

January 22, 2018

Found My Good Samaritans: Joe Manno & Janie Parks

Janie Parks & Joe Manno
In my HuffPost, My Stroke: I'm Still Here, I write, "... She (my 86-year-old mother) leaned over and veered the car into the right shoulder, where it collided into the metal beam guard raid. I remember two college-age people in a white car run up to the side of the car. Imagine driving and seeing a car slowly crash. They must have known something must be very wrong. ... The next thing I remember is watching these two Good Samaritans run back to their car. They must have called 911. And then, I was out. Now, 7 months later, I wish I knew who they were. I would them profusely. They saved my life. ...
My quest was to find them. Surely, the Darien EMS would have the information: it was their ambulance that brought me to the hospital. When I called they said they don't have reports from State highways. I was referred to Troop G, who patrols that leg of Interstate 95. They referred me to the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services, who required a letter requesting what I was seeking. I followed up and was told it usually takes 2 years (whahhhh???) to fulfill requests. "I remember your story. I'll send it right out."
I finally received the emergency report.  "Vehicle #1 was traveling southbound in the center lane of three of Interstate 95. Operator #1 suffered a stroke while driving, causing the vehicle to veer into the right shoulder, where it collided in to the metal beam guide rail.
"A witness (Witness #1) that was traveling south bound on Interstate 95, stated that he observed Vehicle #1 traveling sought in the center lane of three. He stated that the passenger traveling in Vehicle #1 was motioning out the window for vehicles to move over and as she was doing so, Vehicle #1 veered into the right shoulder, where it collided into the metal beam guide rail. 
"Operator #1 was unable to provide a statement due to her medical condition. The mother of Operator #1 was traveling in Vehicle #1 stated that her daughter released the steering wheel and would not respond as they were traveling south on Interstate 95. She stated that she then took control of the steering wheel and maneuvered Vehicle #1 from the center lane into the right shoulder, where it then collided into the metal guide rail. ..."
And this is where my two saviors appeared. On the last page of the Connecticut Uniform Police Crash Report were their names, Joe Manno and Janie Parks. 
I found them!!! I researched their phone number and left a message: "This is Bonni Brodnick. I was the person in the crashed car at the side of the highway on Easter morning. I wanted to let you know that I had a stroke and I'm alive. I also wanted you to know that you saved my life. I'm eternally grateful."
The next day, Joe and Janie called.

January 3, 2018

My New Year's Message: Gratitude

I’m so profoundly grateful to be here after my stroke -- which happened while DRIVING in the MIDDLE LANE of I-95. (A safe crash by my mother, who grabbed the wheel from the passenger seat and headed into the guardrail, was my initial savior, along with two Good Samaritans who stopped to help.) This followed by two hospital stays, lots of PT, OT, speech and an eventual pacemaker ... it's been quite a hike. 

But I’m here!! And thrilled to be spending this New Year’s eve with my favorite guy. Thank you all for the love and encouragement along the way. May your MMXVIII be filled-to-the-max with happiness + good health, 
peace ✌🏻 + love .

December 7, 2017

My Stroke: It Begins With "C"

"I came for the colonoscopy shot," I said to the person at Pain Management registration. I knew the word wasn't right. I knew it began with a "c" but it just wasn't coming. "Wait, don't tell me," I said. "It's, um, um ... the Cortisone shot."

Words are sometimes trippy. While an in-patient at Phelps Hospital last summer, my speech therapist said, "The words are there. You just need to get them out of the file cabinets in your brain."

The Cortisone shot is for my right upper arm. The pain was excruciating for months until my mother piped in, "Maybe it's from me grabbing the wheel so hard." I was clenching it like there was no tomorrow when she leaned over from the passenger seat to veer the car into a guardrail on I-95.

After MRIs, xrays, etc., what we had all thought was neurological damage was actually bone and muscular.

"If you could sign this," said the assisting nurse after the Cortisone treatment. "It's for instructions on what you can't do and tells us you understand what was done."

"My handwriting sucks post-stroke," I said. "I used to have beautiful handwriting."

I moaned to myself and longed for the day I didn't have a stroke. When people told me (as egotistical as it sounds now), "Wow, you've got beautiful handwriting." And I did. You could actually read what I wrote!


What if there was a shot to improve handwriting? You look at the monitor and watch as the Cortisone serum seeps into your upper arm. Afterwards, you're handed a pen and a piece of paper. You shake your arm a few times. You begin to write. What started as scratchy, illegible scrawl is now beautiful handwriting with flourishes and distinction. You did it!!

(Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.)

November 30, 2017

My Stroke: Do I Want to Have a BAD Day or a GOOD Day

Every morning, before gearing up on news, weather, email, and Instagram, I go into the guest room and take a seat on my meditation bench. I set the timer for 20 minutes, close my eyes, and the mind chatter begins. I think about how lucky I am to be here; what would have happened if my mother wasn't in the car when I had my stroke; what about those two Good Samaritans who stopped to see what was wrong? My mind is stuck on replay of every detail and then I slip into my mantra (which I actually lost post-stroke! It just didn't sound right. [I had the syllables inverted.] My yoga instructor gave me back my mantra.)

After each meditation session, I end with this one thought: I am in control of whether I have a bad day or a good day. I can go left or right.

The left lane is feeling sorry for myself; my right side is weaker, my right-hand shakes if I have it in a certain position, it's hard for me to find words when I talk sometimes, I have double-vision, my body is ache-y, why did I have a stroke ... and on and on.  But I tell myself the left lane is not an option. I do not want to start the day with negativity.

Instead, I take the right lane. I am determined to have a great day. Not a good one, but a great one. I may not even believe it, but by saying it, I'm opening myself up to positive thinking and good juju. I say to my husband, "Today is going to be a great day." He smiles and kisses me goodbye.

So today, you can go left ... or right. You can have the mindset to sit in the proverbial boogy room and wallow in negativity. Or you can dance, sing, and jump in the sunny room and glorify that you have another day. As for myself, even though I might not really feel it (see paragraph 3), I am determined to have a great day.

How about you?

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