Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut



Patient Profile:  Claire Calabretta

We receive this beautiful email from Claire Calabretta, an extraordinary patient and VNAngel, and thought our readers would find it both insightful and inspiring:

On the morning of Saturday May 8, 2010 I awoke with a strange, numb sensation in my left leg. It was the kind of feeling you know in your gut is really, really not good. The numbness progressed rapidly over the course of that weekend; by Sunday afternoon I could barely walk. The local hospital did some imaging and determined I needed to be admitted to a hospital with neurological special-ists. I went by ambulance to Hartford Hospital.

Thus began my journey into the very foreign territory that falls under the category of “life altering illness.” I had had no prior experience with hospitals or major health challenges, so there really wasn’t any way to prepare for what lay ahead. I was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder that thankful-ly responded very well to steroid treatment. I spent six weeks in two hospitals, re-learning how to walk, shower, dress, etc. I was released when I got to the point where I could get around comfortably in a wheel chair or walker. A wonderful PT at Hospital for Special Care in New Britain (where I went for rehab), Janelle Dubicki, mentioned that she also worked for VNA in SE CT. I asked if I could arrange for home care with that agency. Knowing that someone familiar with my case history could help me make the transition to home care gave me great reassurance.

I confess to not knowing much about VNA, except that my Mom, an RN, worked for VNA when I was growing up.

I knew she visited with patients. I envi-sioned her clientele as mostly elderly people! I guess that’s the way we protect ourselves from the difficult truth that illness and injury happen to anyone at any time.

On my journey there were many, many angels who lit the path to wellness for me, braced me when I stumbled, and sometimes even carried me. I would like to commend the great team I worked with at VNA of Southeastern Connecti-cut, because I think they should be rec-ognized for their excellence, profession-alism, and great compassion. I came home from rehab with overwhelming fear – fear of falling, fear of relapse, fear of injuring myself by too much activity, or not challenging myself enough, finan-cial worries because I was unable to work. Every day there was someone from VNA there to help me on every level – physical, spiritual, and emotion-al. I would especially like to recognize my physical therapists Gina Liguore and Janelle Dubicki, my RN, Sheri Pruitt, and occupational therapists Mar-gie Sidney, Patti Ludwig, and Linda Chamrad. I hope I’m not forgetting any-one – there were so many wonderful caregivers.

I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my hospitalization by making it up about 100 steps to the top of the obser-vation tower at the Gettsyburg National Battlefield Park. The view from the top was beautiful. What I saw too in my mind’s eye was the faces of all the won-derful people who helped get me there. A year ago I didn’t know if I would ever walk again. It’s too simple to say that what happened to me was a miracle be-cause it took so many angels right here on earth, helping me with every baby step. I will never forget them, ever.