Young mother has stroke; her mother writes a book
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.”
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.