Posted by Lynn Bronikowski Jun 15 2017
When Erin Gianaras had a stroke on June 27, 2016 at age 27, her friends, family and co-workers were shocked and kept asking what they could do to help.
Gianaras of Arlington Heights, Ill. told them to perform random acts of kindness in her name. And so they did—doing everything from buying groceries for the person behind them at the checkout line to randomly handing out gift cards to passersby in downtown Chicago.
An aunt bought chocolates from a street person she’d passed by for years on the way to her downtown office. And a family in Wisconsin bought groceries for a family in need.
“I figured if I couldn’t do anything to change my outcome, I would rather help other people,” said Gianaras. “Sometimes it was someone in need and sometimes it was just something random. Just sharing those stories definitely helped me.”
Her family would send email updates about her health while her supporters would send emails to her about their random acts of kindness.
“It turned out to be such a positive thing,” said Gianaras. “It was so neat to hear these positive stories at such a tragic time.”
Gianaras, a pharmacist at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, had her stroke while she was at a shopping mall. She tried desperately to call 9-1-1 and dispatchers had to trace her call as she was unable to speak. Mall security was alerted and found her in her car in the mall parking lot.
After a stop at Northwest Community Hospital, she was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago where she spent time in ICU before being transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago where he spent three and a half weeks.
“By the time I got out I was able to walk on my own,” said Gianaras, who continues outpatient therapy. “Over time I am gaining back function."
Now she speaks to stroke support groups--telling her story and encouraging others to call 9-1-1 at the first sign of stroke.
“Being so young I felt like I had so much to live for" she said. "There are days when you’re angry, sad or just cry. But you let it out, move on and maintain a positive attitude.”
Like this article? Donate now to keep StrokeSmart free to anyone that needs it.