Saturday, November 01, 2008

A relatively slow day....

A relatively slow day... got one for ya'
MDI woman is on ‘Oprah’

BAR HARBOR — Less than two years ago, Lori Corbani suffered a stroke that left her unable to use language or even form words. Although the experience was the most challenging she has ever faced, she sees it as a gift.

Lori Corbani of Town Hill, who is recovering from a stroke, recently appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”—OKA HUTCHINS PHOTO
Lori Corbani of Town Hill, who is recovering from a stroke, recently appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”—OKA HUTCHINS PHOTO
“It makes you realize how precious life is, how you take a lot of things for granted. You begin to live in the moment because that’s really all you have,” says Ms. Corbani, sitting at her kitchen table on Monday, “Looking back, it’s only really done good things.”

The stroke has led Ms. Corbani, 46, to a lot of unexpected places, including a video-conferenced appearance on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” on Oct. 21.

One of the most important things that has grown out of her experience is the Stroke and Brain Injury Support Group she began with friends Diane Bonsey and Steve Langley last June.

“With any kind of chronic illness, a support group helps a lot with the healing and treatment process,” said Chris Schleif, who works at the Jackson Laboratory.

Following her stroke in February of 2007, Ms. Corbani received invaluable support from her husband, naturalist Michael Good and their children. A computer scientist at The Jackson Laboratory, she is also incredibly thankful to her coworkers there for the support that they have offered her. No matter how supportive family and friends can be, it is important to discuss and share the experience with people who have been through it themselves, says Ms. Corbani. Until she met with others who had experienced similar traumas, a part of her felt alone.

Thanks to the support group, Ms. Corbani learned that there were many people living in her community who had gone through similar experiences.

Strokes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, says Dr. Julius Krevans, Jr., medical director of the Emergency Department at the Mount Desert Island Hospital. Dr. Krevans’ ER sees a stroke nearly every week, some minor and some devastating.

“It really is a life changing experience. It is a gift – but it takes a lot of emotion, grief, anguish as well as love and compassion to get to the gift – it’s not an easy journey,” says Ms. Corbani.

A book she received early in her recovery called “Stroke of Insight,” written by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, was another important piece of her healing process. Dr. Taylor’s book is an autobiographical account of the debilitating stroke the brain scientist had in 1996. Ms. Corbani came to see many similarities between the doctor’s experience and her own.

“She had the kind of stroke that I had and the same doctors that I did,” says Ms. Corbani.

When Ms. Corbani learned that the Oprah Winfrey Show would be featuring Dr. Taylor, she wrote a letter to the show praising the book. The producers of the show, which aired Oct. 21, contacted Ms. Corbani in August and asked her if she would like to be featured on the program through live video conferencing. Ms. Corbani accepted, and began to prepare to speak to the woman who had positively influenced her recovery. The idea made Ms. Corbani a little nervous, as her stroke has made it more challenging for her to find the words she wanted to use to express herself. Ms. Corbani has found that it is especially hard for her to converse naturally in new situations, so she reviewed her words several times beforehand to prepare.

Happily, she was able to communicate what she wanted to, and the show went off without a hitch. Ms. Corbani told Dr. Taylor that her book helped her understand not only the medical, but the spiritual side of her stroke.

“Her book was a great piece in the puzzle of my recovery,” says Ms. Corbani.

Like Dr. Taylor, the stroke Ms. Corbani experienced was caused by arteriovenous malformation (AVM), an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain. When an AVM ruptures, it can cause blood to flow into the brain, which can result in a hemoragic stroke.

Hemoragic aneurysms account for only 15 percent of strokes. Luckily for Ms. Corbani, this type of stroke allows a high rate of recovery.

Now back to work part time, Ms. Corbani has regained her knowledge of words and her ability to use language. She is still relearning many of her former abilities.

“My math skills are horrible right now. I can’t even remember multiplication tables,” she says.

The support group she and her friends founded continues to be a source of comfort. She hopes that it will continue to evolve and be a source of solace to people who have experienced trauma. “Just because you look okay doesn’t mean you are okay inside,” says Ms. Corbani. Through their family, friends and each other, however, each member of the group has come to view their experience as a gift, she says.

Ms. Corbani hopes that the support group can help educate people as well. She didn’t know until after her stroke that stroke and brain aneurysm injuries are the third largest killer in the United States today.

“If you have significant chest pain, get it checked out right away,” advises Dr. Krevans. “Getting treatment in the first minutes to hours statistically improves the outcome of a stroke.”

The Stroke and Brain Injury Support Group meets at 6 p.m. on the last Sunday of every month at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church at 29 Mount Desert Street. Call the church at 288-3280 for more information.


And that's it... yah I know .... but what can I say.... It was a really slow day....
And nothing on the home front either.

go here ya' go...

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