Young mother has stroke; her mother writes a book

Greenwich Time (Sunday) - - NEWS - By Amanda Cuda

Sept. 10, 2013, started out as a typ­i­cal day in the life of Ja­clyn Kala­pos-Rios.

Kala­pos-Rios, then 32 and a trial at­tor­ney, vis­ited with her mom, had lunch with a friend, en­joyed a spe­cial din­ner with fam­ily and even ran 2 miles.

But shortly be­fore bed­time came the mo­ment that changed ev­ery­thing for her.

Af­ter tak­ing a shower and putting on her pa­ja­mas, she sat on her bed, where her hus­band, Jim, was al­ready asleep.

Sud­denly, some­thing seemed wrong with her vi­sion. She thought it was a mi­graine and took off her glasses. Then she col­lapsed on the floor. She couldn’t talk. She could barely move.

Kala­pos-Rios was hav­ing a stroke — one that al­most took her life, and from which she is still re­cov­er­ing at age 37.

The events that night changed not just her life, but that of ev­ery­one in her fam­ily, in­clud­ing her mother, Strat­ford res­i­dent Feli­cia Zera Kala­pos.

“I think we had been blessed that no one in our fam­ily had a stroke be­fore,” Kala­pos said, dur­ing an in­ter­view in her daugh­ter’s Shel­ton home. “We didn’t know any­thing about strokes.”

Hop­ing to pro­vide a guide and sup­port for other fam­i­lies, Kala­pos wrote a book “Stroke: Through a Mother’s Eyes,” self-pub­lished through Mill City Press.

Af­ter Kala­pos-Rios had the stroke, her mother wanted to learn ev­ery­thing about the topic. But most of the lit­er­a­ture she found was about strokes in older peo­ple.

“I couldn’t find any­thing that dealt with stroke in a mother with young chil­dren,” Feli­cia Zera Kala­pos said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health, each year, about 795,000 peo­ple in the United States have strokes, and of those in­ci­dents, 137,000 of the peo­ple die.

Though risk of stroke in­creases with age, it can hap­pen at any point in a per­son’s life. The NIH re­ports that a quar­ter of strokes oc­cur in peo­ple younger that 65.

Fight­ing for life

Kala­pos-Rios’s jour­ney has been a long one, which be­gan af­ter she had the ter­ri­fy­ing re­al­iza­tion that some­thing was wrong that Septem­ber night five years ago. Af­ter about a week at Yale-New Haven, she was trans­ferred to Gay­lord Hos­pi­tal in Walling­ford, where she re­ceived phys­i­cal, oc­cu­pa­tional and speech ther­apy for three weeks

Long road back

Af­ter she got out of Gay­lord, Kala­pos-Rios and her fam­ily went to live with her par­ents. Feli­cia Zera Kala­pos said ev­ery­thing was or­ga­nized with a gi­ant white board that in­cluded all of her daugh­ter’s med­i­cal ap­point­ments and her grand­chil­dren’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

Dur­ing the six months Kala­pos-Rios and her fam­ily lived with her par­ents, she gained back a lot of skills, in­clud­ing the abil­ity to drive. But even five years later, her re­cov­ery still isn’t done.

And Kala­pos-Rios is only slowly start­ing to re­turn to work, work­ing on fore­clo­sures with the help of a para­le­gal.

But she knows she will keep im­prov­ing, and she’s even set a goal. “In 10 years, no one will know she’s had a stroke,” her mother said. “That’s the goal.”

Feli­cia Zera Kala­pos said she hopes telling her fam­ily’s story through the book will pro­vide hope and in­sight for other fam­i­lies go­ing through some­thing sim­i­lar.

“Be­fore, there was noth­ing (in the lit­er­a­ture) that talked about our par­tic­u­lar set of cir­cum­stances,” she said. “I felt, if this hap­pens to some­body else, this could help.”

Chris­tian Abra­ham / Hearst Conn. Me­dia

Feli­cia Zera Kala­pos of Strat­ford, right, poses with her daugh­ter, Ja­clyn Kala­pos-Rios, and the book she wrote about her stroke, at Rios’ home in Shel­ton.

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