November 8, 2017

HuffPost: "My Stroke: I'm Still Here"

Go to HuffPost ---->

or you can read it here. It's the whole megillah, from start to finish. (Well, not exactly "finished," but but you get the drift.)

It was Easter morning. I picked up my mother to bring her to our house. Being that it was a Sunday—and a holiday—traffic was light. This, it turned out, was a lucky thing. Because I happened to have a stroke on Interstate-95.

I was driving and suddenly looked at my right hand shaking as it rested on the console. My mother screamed, “Bonni, pull over! Pull over!” She waved at me but I didn’t understand. There was a disconnect.
She leaned over and veered the car into the right shoulder, where it collided into the metal beam guide rail. I remember two college-age people in a white car run up to my side of the car. Imagine driving and seeing a car slowly crash. They must have known that something must be very wrong.
The next thing I remember is watching these two Good Samaritans run back to their car. They must have gone to call 911. And then I was out. Now, 7 months later, I wish I knew who they were. I would thank them profusely. They saved my life.
I had had a stroke. The first hospital I went to by ambulance and was given a clot-buster, also known as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). The drug, given intravenously through the arm, needs to be within 3 hours after stroke symptoms begin. I was then whisked by ambulance to Yale-New Haven Hospital, who used the innovative Lazarus technique. This next generation technology is only two years old and focuses on acute ischemic strokes. Inserted into my groin, the technology facilitates the capture and removal of clots with what looks like a thin fishing net attached to a metal wire. Once the doctors reached the clot, they trapped it in the net and removed it from my body. It’s a lifesaving procedure and I’m lucky to have received it.
I awoke in ICU, where I was for three days, barely able to talk or move. Meanwhile, my family was in a panic not knowing what the outcome would be. Would I be able to talk? Walk? Most importantly, would I make it to my son’s wedding, which was in six weeks … and would I be able to have the mother/groom dance?
I was later moved to a recovery unit, where I gained enough strength to walk. Slowly. People still had to help me. When I was finally on my feet, I was sent by ambulance to Phelps Memorial Hospital for inpatient rehabilitation.
I was one of the lucky 695,000 acute ischemic stroke victims in the U.S. Every day I live with right-side weakness. I’m self-conscious that I might look and sound “stroke-y.” My husband says, “Your voice is lower, but it’s not ‘stroke-y’. You just speak softer and slower. Your words are more deliberate."
My once beautiful handwriting is now a scrawl. Even as I type this, my hands are shaking and I have to use the “delete” tab often. I have weakness in right shoulder. My vision is double.
I was told that I would be going to see my cardiologist, neurologist, eye doctor and more for the first few months after the stroke. I also go to speech, OT (occupational therapy) and PT (physical therapy).
There are so many ifs; what if my mother hadn’t been there to steer me over to the side of the highway; if the two Good Samaritans hadn’t stopped; if I didn’t have the excellent treatment from Yale-New Haven Hospital; if I didn’t have the love and support of family and friends?
Every day I wake up and think, “I could choose to have a bad day or … I can choose to have a great day.” Not that I don’t have bad days, but I’m determined to do everything I can to get strong.
A friend recently asked me, “Name one thing you are thankful for.”
I thought about it and responded, “I’m not thankful; I’m thank-full.”
As for making it to my son’s wedding, I made it! I walked him down the aisle. (Who would have ever guessed I needed a walker just months before?) And the mother/groom dance was truly one of the best moments of my life. In his speech before it, my son said, “I learned about how to love someone from my mom.” The music he chose was perfect. The band played a lilting “The Way You Look Tonight” from Father of the Bride. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
I’m thank-full for many things, but most of all, for being here, and for being able to share this story with you.

September 28, 2017

My Stroke: I'm Still Here

It is interesting that my last blog was posted on April 15, 2017. I suffered a stroke the next morning on, of all places, I-95.

It was Easter morning and I went to pick up my mother. En route home, traffic was light.

I remember looking down at my hand shaking on the console. In the distance, I heard my mother screaming, "Bonni, pull over! Bonni, pull over!" Unbeknownst to me, I was having a stroke. She pulled the car over and we crashed on the side of the highway.

Two Good Samaritans stopped. They were college-age - the man had long hair, and the woman had a knit cap on - ran up to the car. The only thing I remember was watching them run back to their car. They must have seen us slowly crash on the side of the highway since it was my right side that was numb. They called 911.

They saved my life. (Seriously. THEY SAVED MY LIFE. If you see anyone in a white car with the description above, please let them know.)

Watching them run back to their car is the last thing I remember, except for a brief rush of an ambulance crew running me into the hospital. I watched this from above. Was I dead?

I awoke in ICU. Two days later. Unable to move or speak. My family was around me waiting for me to wake up from the surgery. I later learned that I initially went to Stamford Hospital. They gave me a "clot buster" and I was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital who could better handle a stroke like mine. They used something called a Lazarus procedure whereby they use a tool which goes up through the groin and captures the clot in a mesh net. Yale-New Haven has only been doing the procedure for two years. TWO YEARS!

So much has transpired since: ICU for 3 days, 4 days where I graduated from diaper to walking assisted to the bathroom, and then walking (assisted) in the hallway. This followed by 2 weeks of in-patient recovery at Phelps Memorial Hospital.

My rooms have been like a floral shop. I received so many flowers and gifts. I have a pile of cards, literally, 8-inches high. Once home, beloved friends have visited me. I feel the love.

I am five-months out (really six, but I was on my butt for an entire month). People tell me that I look good and that they would never know I had a stroke. I'm in speech, PT and OT. I have weakness on my right side. My right arm is killing me. I am fluent in my head but not when I speak. I feel stroke-y. But ...


April 10, 2017

So Inocentes

My close group of friends and I are tethered to one another's film and television recommendations. 

One of the friends in this club of cinephiliacs recently recommended "The Innocents" as a must-see movie, that it was powerful and poignant, and that it was now available on Netflix. I searched the Netflix line-up and could only find "Los Inocentes," which takes place in 19th century Argentina when a man returns to his family's plantation after 15 years and relives a violent past, slave abuse, and evil spirits.The movie was better than meh, but I don't highly recommend it.

In a later comment the following day, my friend wrote something about the doctor being incredible. I quietly wondered, "What doctor?" 

It was later clarified that my friend was recommending "The Innocents." (Not the other one.) And yes, I completely agree. The film is powerful and poignant. The cinematography and lighting are superb. The story is inspired by a real story about 1945 Poland when a young French Red Cross doctor who is sent to assist survivors of German concentration camps discovers Benedictine nuns in advanced states of pregnancy during a visit to a nearby convent in Warsaw, Poland. 

Now I know what doctor my friend was talking about! (Because the one in "Los Inocentes" was a walk-on with no real character development. The one in "The Innocents" is a brave savior.) 

This Innocent story reminds me of another one when a good friend from college invited me and Andrew to the Broadway show, "The Book of Moron." Although we had already seen "The Book of Mormon," we thought "The Book of Moron" would be a parody. Let's go!

When we got to the theater, the marquee read, "The Book of Mormon."

It turns out that my friend had made a typo in her subject line. She left out the "m" in "The Book of Mormon."

So we saw "The Book of Mormon" a second time. I highly recommend it.

April 6, 2017

Joan Silbersher, La Doyenne du Funk, Closes Her Legendary Antiques & Tools Shop in Scotts Corners

Did you ever discover a shop where you could find everything? And if you couldn't find it, you didn't need it?

That was Joan Silbersher's shop, Antiques and Tools of Business and Kitchen, a mainstay on Westchester Avenue in Scotts Corners, Pound Ridge, N.Y. since 1990. You could find antique pulleys; mid-century casserole dishes and match books from long-closed nightclubs and restaurants; fishing equipment; sail boats; musical instruments and sheet music; medical tools from the dark ages; rotary dial telephones; and more and more and more. To welcome both collectors and browsers, Joan had a jar full of gummy candy on the right as you walked into the shop. On Sunday mornings, you'd hear WNYC radio blasting with either classical music or host Jonathan Schwartz and his retro selection of show tunes.

In my book, POUND RIDGE PAST: Remembrances of Our Townsfolk*, Joan said people enjoyed going to her shop because "... they like the feeling of things that are old -- really old -- no reproduction, and no phony stuff. You go to some places and there are ten urns, all identical. You know it's all phony, brand new, reproduction. So the kind of person who likes my place is sort of down-to-earth."

As Joan closes the shop's doors for new ventures, we salute her many successes as a contributing resident and businessperson of Pound Ridge. She galvanized the group of people who created the Pound Ridge Tennis Club; started The Country Shopper newspaper; launched an early beautification effort to have flower boxes on the avenue; initiated the Sunday farmers' market, second Sunday antiques markets and the annual town-wide yard sales (including maps with sale locations/days/hours). For pedestrians, cyclists, and a general rest spot, Joan instituted the fountain and benches in front of the former Bank of America, as well as the restriction for a 3-hour parking maximum in the town's business district. And ... who didn't bring their children to her annual Halloween parade and Christmas walk?  

A dedicated and outspoken Democrat, Joan also encouraged everyone to be participating voices in American democracy, both on the local and national levels. 

Joan Silbersher -- La Doyenne Du Funk -- will forever be a Pound Ridge icon. Her spunk, sassiness, intelligence, and wit will surely land her into an exciting new chapter. 

We send Joan a million good wishes!

#  #  #

POUND RIDGE PAST is available at

Booksy Galore in Pound Ridge; Red Fox Gallery in Bedford;

 The Reading Room, and Little Joe's Books in Katonah.

April 1, 2017

Tree-Bearing Pasta ... Who Knew??

On this first day of April, we are grateful to Ticino, Italy, for the sheer magic and brilliance of their culinary discovery, the Spaghetti Tree.

Click here ... and grazie!

                                                                                                                                          (Happy April Fool's Day ;-)

March 28, 2017

My Huffington Post -- "My Husband and His Car Keys: Not a Good Marriage"

“What’s for dinner?” “Has anyone fed the dog?”, “Where’s the other sock?” are frequently asked questions in many households. In mine, though, the most asked question (by my husband) is, “Has anyone seen my car keys?”

To read more, click here or forever hold your peace.

                                       You'll laugh!       

                                                                              You'll cry!

               You'll wonder, "Why did she marry him in the first place!??"

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