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Don't Say Recovery

Evangeline Uribe’s road to wellness emphasizes renewal over recovery

Nancy Coulter-Parker Jan 26, 2015

In her post-strike life, Evangeline Uribe does not like the word, “recovery.” Instead, Evangeline, who goes by “Vangi,” talks about “renewal.” Renewal is a pathway to healing, whatever that healing looks like. Her husband and caregiver, Matt Sorgenfrei, helps her explain: “Recovery is as if you can go back to what it was.”

Renewal, however, implies a new approach to life, with fresh views on your goals and how you reach them. On the road of renewal all stroke survivors are on a continuum. “You’re somewhere in the continuum, and you’re each striving for the goal or achievement you want to make,” Matt explains. 
Matt and Vangi are, literally, walking their talk of renewal. Vangi’s own post-stroke goal was to walk without a cane. But first she had to learn to walk again at all. This, says Matt, was about a six- to seven-year project.

This need to reframe Vangi’s life started on Aug. 15, 2005, when she suffered a hemorrhagic stroke at age 49, as a result of an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that caused bleeding inside her brain. Since then, life has been dramatically different for the couple, who live in Palo Alto, California. Both Vangi and Matt used to work in the tech industry and were raising two sons, who are now grown.

At the time, Matt, who is trained in emergency response, recognized she was having a stroke. Although she got to a hospital within 15 minutes, the AVM was still bleeding, which meant doctors weren’t able to stabilize her blood pressure immediately. This led her to have several more strokes over the course of the next few days.

Vangi spent 88 nights in the intensive care unit before she was moved to long-term care in the hospital. Matt finally brought her home on Dec. 24, 2005, more than four months after the first stroke occurred. It was then that the renewal journey truly began.


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