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Meet Marie: A Stroke Survivor & Oakwood Member
May 23, 2022
On August 3rd, 2007, Marie went upstairs to take some medicine for a migraine she had been having. Unfortunately, the medication had no effect on alleviating the pain, and the next thing Marie knew, she was waking up in the hospital. Marie had found herself lying in a bed with a tube in her throat, her hair shaved, no one around, and no recollection of how she got there. Out of fear and confusion, Marie tried pulling the tube from her throat when a nurse rushed in to stop her. Then, Marie was delivered the news that would change her life forever: she had suffered a stroke and had been in the hospital for a month.

Starting Over After A Stroke

Marie is a stroke survivor and member of Oakwood Creative Care
Marie does not remember anything of what happened at the time of her stroke or anything leading up to waking up in the hospital weeks later. Instead, she recalls being told that she had suffered a brain aneurysm and that the mounting pressure in her brain had needed to be alleviated. Marie says she was told that a surgeon had drilled along the right side of her skull to release the pressure and loosely stapled it back shut, explaining having woken up with her hair gone.  
After staying three months in the hospital, Marie was discharged and began rehabilitation therapy at an outpatient facility. “I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk. I had to relearn everything. This whole [left side] was done,” Marie recalls. Through therapy, Marie was able to regain some of her strength, but she admits that walking and talking now comes slower because of the hemiparesis to her left side.

Marie also mentions that perhaps one of the most challenging and frustrating stages of her recovery journey was learning to complete different tasks with her non-paralyzed and non-dominant side. “I was left-handed before. I used to have the most cool, awesome handwriting before my stroke,” Marie states. Now, she uses her right hand to write and has even developed an extraordinary talent for drawing, painting, and sculpting.

Marie’s Newfound Passion For Art

When asked if she was ever an artist before her stroke, Marie laughs and shakes her head to say no. While she used to love writing poetry, it was not until she joined Oakwood Creative Care that Marie discovered her newfound passion for creating art. At first, Marie admits that she was a little bit skeptical of the idea of joining the Day Club, but she began to warm up to it when her daughter brought her in for a tour of the campus.
Marie's first painting of Dodgers logo
Sammy, a teaching artist at Oakwood’s Town Center location, says she remembers the first day Marie came to the club. “It was two days after Oakwood had reopened when the pandemic had shut everything down. At that time, there were only two members in the club, and one of them was Marie. I asked her if she wanted to paint, and, at first, she said no. So, I asked what she was interested in, and Marie said, ‘The Dodgers.’” 
At the sound of hearing Sammy recount Marie’s love for the Dodgers, Marie immediately perks up and beams with a most radiant smile from ear to ear. “I love the Dodgers!” she exclaims. Marie then goes on to recall how, growing up, her mother only had a select number of stations available on the TV, and the Dodgers always played on channel 55. As a result, Marie grew up rooting for The Dodgers, and, to this day, they are still her favorite team. So, during her first day at the club and after Sammy had brought out some paints and a wooden canvas, Marie immediately took to the brushes and began painting a picture-perfect depiction of the Dodgers’ logo.

Finding Happiness & Friendships At Oakwood

Marie and Sammy at Oakwood Creative Care
Every day since, Marie says that the art classes at Oakwood have become one of the many things she looks forward to most, along with spending time with some of her favorite people.

“I love Sammy and Annie,” Marie says, also referring to Town Center’s Club Director. “I call Annie ‘Wilbur,’ and she calls me ‘Larry.’” When asked how these nicknames came to be, Marie explains that “Larry” was the name of a really good friend of Annie’s, and Marie followed suit by giving Annie the nickname “Wilbur” based on the 1960’s sitcom Mister Ed

As Marie reflects on her days spent at the club, it is clear that her heart and passion for Oakwood have become a beacon of light despite the challenges she faces. She has overcome a number of obstacles since surviving a stroke, many of which have not been easy. But for Marie, Oakwood’s Day Clubs and the community of support therein revives her hope for the future. “Oakwood is the place to be! I find happiness here,” says Marie.

Oakwood Creative Care is bringing back the JOY in aging because a diagnosis should not define your life. Click the button below to learn more about the research-based, cutting-edge, creative care model found at each of our Day Clubs.

Marie is a stroke survivor and member of Oakwood Creative Care

Welcome

We're a nonprofit organization based in Mesa, Arizona with three senior day club locations (and a fourth on the way) which serve older adults with Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, and various other physical or cognitive challenges. Life does not end with a diagnosis. Our members continue to learn new skills, enjoy new discoveries, make friends, laugh, and live a joy-filled life. Our team of dementia experts lead support groups, events, classes, and private sessions with caregivers and families, guiding them on the best methods to care for their loved ones while also caring for themselves.


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