Sixty-one-year-old Thea Platt has been on a journey, one filled with surprise, loss, deep sorrow, and a quiet hope.
In May 2012, after losing her job of 14 years, Platt suffered a stroke. “I was in a terrific depression,” she said. “I was doing nothing, I didn’t care about doing anything. I didn’t know depression was a risk factor for stroke, so when that happened, it was a wake-up call.” Platt had remembered the acronym F.A.S.T. (Face dropping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1) and was able to get to Penrose Hospital in time to receive a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to break up her blood clot. “Penrose took excellent care of me,” she said. “It was overwhelming, but I knew I was going to be OK.” Penrose-St. Francis Health Services provides 24/7 advanced stroke treatment and was named a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Penrose-St. Francis is part of Centura Health, the region’s leading healthcare network.
The stroke affected the use of Platt’s right hand and arm, which was particularly devastating as she was right-handed and enjoyed writing poetry. “It had been maybe a year since I had written, but I started using my left hand to write while I was still in the hospital,” she said. “Poetry is often my therapy.”
While she recovered, Platt’s sister Jan Boyce served as her caregiver, and the two attended a Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp in Peoria, Ill; Platt has gone every year since her stroke. “The camps were so crucial for me, a real turning point,” she said. “It was encouragement, and hope, and love, all at once – truly refreshing.”
Though she was on the road to recovery, Platt’s world was again shaken when Boyce, her older sister and once caregiver, also suffered a stroke. Boyce’s stroke was much more severe, and she needed nearly constant help in her recovery. Platt cared for her sister for as long as she could. “After her stroke, Jan still came to camp with me, but I needed volunteers to help be her caregivers,” Platt said. Eventually, Boyce needed to be in a long-term care facility. “It was a big challenge, emotionally. She couldn’t talk, and she died the way she lived, quietly, in her sleep. I was right there with her.”
Boyce passed away in March at 66. “I lost her when she had her stroke, but I had a glorious God-sent vision when she passed away of her at peace,” Platt said. Platt’s faith, along with her own second chance at life, give her motivation to continue, in honor of her sister. “God could’ve taken me all at once, but he chose to take just a little piece,” she said. “I realized it was something I needed to look at carefully.”