Meet Matt and Valerie, an inspirational recount

Matt, 20 years after his surgery

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The direction of “the Quest for Quality of Life” blog has changed — the goal is to share inspirational stories, amazing stories, and lessons learned from others.  To share how, facing incredible obstacles, these inspirational people still strive to achieve quality of life.  Why?  We can learn from them.  We can grow.  We can achieve.  We can change.

Meet Valerie, who shared her son Matt’s victory with me.  They are celebrating the 20th anniversary of his surgery.  Valerie told me how Matt was an amazing child.  He was playing golf at 2 1/2, his language was excellent, and she was amazed at how he developed as he grew.  One day, with no warning, Matt’s lips turned blue and he passed out.  He was diagnosed with seizure disorder.  The next 3 1/2 years were spent trying many different medications and in and out of different hospitals.  At 6 years old he had a left hemispherectomy — the left half of his brain, except for the visual lobe, was removed.  They were in the hospital from January through April that year while he recovered and went to rehabilitation.

Her son’s illness was life changing.  It changed her perspective on how her family would live their lives.  She realized that many people define themselves through a job.  Instead she began making time for her family.  She realized that, many times, you tend to put off taking care of yourself because you lack the time.  Instead she went to graduate school.  She stopped saying wouldn’t it be nice if . . . and, instead, figured out how to make it happen.

Of course she wishes her son and her family didn’t have to go through the illness, but realized that, retrospectively, there were many silver linings — people she wouldn’t have met, friends they wouldn’t know, vacations they never would have scheduled.

Matt’s doing well.  People had proposed he would have limits on his recovery, and he has surpassed expectations.  Valerie notes that it isn’t fair to put limits on people.  Afterall, recovery should be up to the person, and the sky is the limit.

Valerie also noted that you need to learn to accept emotions and reactions to situations, that you need to shape your life.

Valerie’s words of wisdom, “Get out and do instead of wishing life away and not taking care of yourself.  Life is full of adventures.  Some you are given, some you choose”.  After being given so many, they now choose their adventures.

Authored by: Doreen Guma

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC 

Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (a board certified healthcare executive), a Certified Professional Coach and a Certified Life Coach.

Doreen is the founder of Time to Play, a place to find resources for a better life.  She came up with the Time to Play Philosophy that you have to be happy, healthy, have money and a work / life balance to have quality of life, and believes everyone has the right and the ability to enjoy life.

Doreen has worked in healthcare since 1987, 14 years in a hospital and since 2001 in skilled nursing facilities.  She has held positions in administration, as the Director of Quality Improvement, Risk Manager and Director of Medical Records.

In 2005 she and her husband opened D. James Marketing, a healthcare specific consulting firm which assists healthcare organizations with new program generation, quality improvement, staff and client satisfaction, event coordination, coordinating educational symposiums and more to help spread the message about the healthcare servics they provide. The primary goal of D. James Marketing is to educate the community about resources that are available so people may know where to seek help in the event of a health need or a health crisis with a focus on proactive prevention. 

Contact: 631-331-2675 


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