Lucille's story

Lucille sitting on the floor in her living room helping her grandkids put together a puzzle.

“I never gave up hope.”

Miracles really do happen

“Horrific.” That’s how Lucille Bonfanti described the eye pain that awakened her early one morning. “It was terrible, but I thought it would pass and I certainly didn’t want to go to the hospital. I quickly changed my mind.” As her husband Richard called 911, Lu passed out. She was rushed to Overlook Hospital, where she was diagnosed with left parietoccipital intraparenchymal and intraventricular hemorrhages – extensive bleeding in the brain that results in a stroke.

Lu underwent surgery to stop the bleeding and spent ten days in intensive care before being transferred to Kessler Institute to begin putting her life back together. It wasn’t going to be easy. She was unable to hold her head up, follow simple commands, communicate, eat or walk. Her right side was paralyzed, her peripheral vision was limited and her vivacious spirit was nowhere to be found.

She was frustrated and agitated, but her Kessler team was committed to finding the warm, outgoing, laughter-loving woman they heard so much about.

The turning point came one afternoon when her “girls” – her daughters and young granddaughters – were visiting. Whether it was the love of her family, their faith, the care and compassion of her treatment team or just the right timing, Lu began to respond. Her courage and determination sparkled as she worked to regain her abilities to walk, speak, read, write and perform daily activities.

“I never gave up hope. Every time I did something I couldn’t do the day before, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. And I continued my rehab as a Kessler outpatient. But most important, my Richie’s wish that I would get up and walk out of Kessler did happen. Like I tell my girls, ‘Miracles really do happen.’”