In one split second, Nancy’s life changed. She was living in her own condominium with her rescue dog Charlie; active, independent and working at a job she loved. In November 2019, Nancy left her accounting job at a car dealership in Massachusetts and picked up Charlie at doggie day care. Driving onto a bridge to Interstate-91, Nancy recalled hearing a voice in her head warning her to “Stay in your lane.” It was too late. Nancy swerved into an on-coming car head on. She remembers the collision and being able to get out of the car, hearing the other driver ask, “Why did you come at me like that?” Nancy credits the police at the scene with recognizing possible signs of a stroke when they saw her left leg paralyzed. A quick response saved her life. She was only 57 years old when diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke. Although the stroke did not affect her ability to talk or her cognition, her entire left side was paralyzed. The shock, grief and multiple losses overwhelmed her.
After two weeks in a Massachusetts hospital, Nancy was admitted to the first of three Connecticut skilled nursing facilities to be closer to her supportive family. Nancy first heard of Money Follows the Person (MFP) from a Certified Nurse’s Aide (CNA) who urged her to look into this program. “She wanted to get me out while at the height of COVID. It sounded too good to be true when I researched it.” Concerned about her safety as COVID surged, she was discharged without MFP to her father’s home. Barely there two days, Nancy fell and broke her hip needing hip replacement surgery. Her family scrambled to find her a skilled nursing bed during COVID. In early May 2020, Nancy was at another skilled nursing facility trying to recover from both the stroke and the hip surgery. Nancy’s mental and physical health were suffering; she was in physical pain, angry, and felt like she didn’t want to live. Recalling what the CNA told her about MFP, Nancy made her application online and started to feel hopeful.
Nancy’s experience was not entirely smooth; her housing coordinator was not responsive. Nancy was proactive in finding her own apartment, with the added challenge of finding a place who accepted dogs. Her advice to anyone on MFP, “You need to be your own advocate. Be strong. Stand up for yourself. Ask a lot of questions. Ask if you have a choice for home care agencies. Make sure you are getting what you need.” Although she did not get an aide for three weeks, partly due to living in a location where they were scarce especially during COVID, she eventually got all the services she needed. Nancy says both her transition coordinator and her care manager were awesome! Not only did they buy her furniture and $180.00 of groceries to get her started in her new apartment, they were true to their word, competent and compassionate. The case manager told her about all the services she would receive, including a recovery assistant. Physical therapy at the facility provided her with a walker and transfer tub bench, and Nancy bought her own cane. She was very impressed with MFP and would definitely recommend it, and feels this program should be more widely advertised.
Now, Nancy is more mobile, able to shower, wash her hair, make simple meals and is better at dressing herself. She is adjusting to life in CT with family nearby, feeling lucky to be alive. “My sisters remind me how far I’ve come. My father tells me he is so proud of my progress.”
Nancy may have rescued Charlie, but Charlie is there for Nancy in her recovery process. “I used to whisper in his ear that we’d be back together again. My dog had been my total protector ever since.” They share unconditional love and support as they are once again reunited.
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