A Day with a Rose

This is a story of Rosario. Her friends call her Rose. She is a stroke survivor. On April 27, 2004, she had surgery to repair her heart. The surgery was a success. But in the process of her recovery, she suffered a massive stroke, paralyzing the right side of her body.

Each year about 795,000 people experience a new or recurring stroke.* Stroke is the third largest cause of death, ranking behind "diseases of the heart" and all forms of cancer. It is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

These pictures have been taken almost 6 years since her stroke. They show what a couple affected by stroke experiences on a daily basis. They also illustrate such values as strength, patience, solidarity, and love.

This is A Day with a Rose.

*Data from GCNKSS/NINDS studies, American Heart Association

This is a photo of Rose at age 21. It was taken many years ago when she graduated from college. She was so young and beautiful.

7am… the ultrasonic hum of the television pierces the air. She is awake.

This is Raul. Her husband. Having retired last year, he has assumed the responsibility of primary caregiver. Being middle class, they cannot afford one nor do they qualify for a government assistance. What was done by a caregiver several months ago when he was able to afford one, he now does himself.

Once she’s up, he massages her paralyzed limbs. The paralyzed muscles seem to always be in constant tension. The massages loosen them up a bit before she starts her "walk".

Raul lifts her up and walks her to the bathroom to get dressed. While holding her, she is able to stand, along with the help of a brace.

Once ready, they take the journey downstairs. The moment seems tense. But they always seem to make it down just fine.

She is greeted at the end of her descent by her trusty cane. Without this cane, walking independently would not be possible.

Now, she is on her own. Her good arm holds the cane for support while she rocks her way forward. Her journey is to the family room, where her wheelchair and breakfast are waiting for her.

Enjoying the morning.

Breakfast is light—including OJ and coffee that provide her with vitamin C and a caffeine boost to get her through the day. During breakfast, Raul complains about stomach pain. This concerns her.

His refusal to get checked out upsets her. "I'm ok", he says. Years ago, he was taken to the ER due to gastrointestinal issues. After much pleading, he surrenders and agrees to go. She always gets her way.

This is her right hand. It’s eternally clenched. She always rests it on this small pillow with highly decorative embroidery.

She reads, colors in her coloring books, and watches the TFC channel while she waits for his return. "Wowowee" is on.

Diagnosis…severe indigestion. It’s nothing a whole bottle of the pink stuff won’t fix. Now that he’s returned, Raul needs to get back on track. Here he prepares her cocktail of medication and vitamins for the week.

Using the restroom is a big challenge. She propels herself to the restroom with her good foot and guides herself through the doorway with the good arm. The restroom has been retrofitted to assist her.

She loves her coloring books. They allow her to be creative. All the coloring is done within the lines. But she uses whatever colours she wants and she does it with great vigor.

The rims on her ride.

Dinner has passed and now it’s time to make the journey back upstairs. But before she does that, she decides to get some exercise in and takes a few laps around the house.

Strength, patience, and love. My favorite photo.

Finally made it back upstairs using the same technique coming down. It's time to get ready for bed. Maybe tomorrow, there will be something different and exciting. For now, the TV awaits.

Life is good.