28 Oct Lucas Bertani tells us his story
Lucas Bertani tells us his story about the stroke he suffered at the age of 29 that was a life- changing experience.
LA NACION – 28 Oct 2017
That morning, Lucas Bertani had gone to visit a client, to whom he was advising on administrative tasks, and in the afternoon he went to the family business. He attended boxing sessions three times a week at a gym. That day was no exception. He weighed himself, the scale read exactly 80 kilos. He did his usual exercise routine until he felt a prick inside his head; something like a hair pulling on the inside. He continued with his routine. Then he felt a very strong pain all over his head; it was unbearable. He reached out to his mom, who was training with him that day, to let her know. That was the last thing that Lucas, then 29 years old, remembered. The story has a hopeful ending. Today, at the age of 40, he shares his experience.
What were your first sensations upon waking up?
When I woke up two months had passed and I was intubated. The first thing I saw was a very strong light, like a flash, which was the light in the room. Since I hadn’t had my eyes open for two months, that light seemed very strong to me. To my right I saw one of those typical monitors that you see in the movies- the ones with the heart rate – and another machine, next to it, with a hose to my bed, which was the respirator. It took me several days to understand what had happened to me.
What was your life like before?
I had a job, a workout routine, I ate relatively healthy and had quit smoking 4 months ago. I was dating and I used to hang out with friends too.
What was your rehab like?
During the coma I lost 35 kilos. The first step was to achieve unassisted breathing and discontinue the respirator. Next, swallowing in order to be able to eat and stop tube feeding. Later I worked on getting back to speaking, then to standing up and taking a step. I knew that if I could take a step, I was going to be able to handle the training.
What message could you give to someone going through the recovery stage?
Rehabilitation and perseverance are key to recovery. It takes time. Set short and long term goals, to end up being stronger.
How did you overcome this process?
I had moments of doubt and fear. I experienced pain that I did not even know existed. I managed to overcome it in my own time and in my own way. When I realized what had happened to me, I kept a positive attitude, knowing that to get over it I had to go through a lengthy and painstaking process, since I could not go to school, work or play any sport. I took rehab seriously, focused and intelligently, as if I were working, studying or exercising. I believe that rehab is the key to recovery. If you don’t practice your exercises, it is almost impossible to get back to your life; it is like thinking about becoming a doctor, an accountant or a teacher without studying or going to university. I remember when I took my first step. When I was able to drink liquids and take a bath for the first time.
How long were you hospitalized?
After two years of rehabilitation at Alcla, I went home. That day I went in the car with my father. My mother, my sister, my uncle and the lady who has worked with us for more than 40 years and whom I had not seen since the moment I was hospitalized, were waiting for us there. As I turned the corner and saw my house again I started crying and couldn’t stop. It was amazing to be back. I still remember the moment when I went inside in the wheelchair and saw all of them.
What kept you going?
One night while I was hospitalized I heard a phrase on a television program, said by a blind Spanish participant: “A man who beats another man is very strong, but a man who beats himself is mighty” and it is just like that. I think the most difficult part is struggling with oneself not to surrender. I felt that I had two options: either giving up, but if I did, I would hurt my family and friends a lot, or pushing forward no matter what. That’s what I did.
What type of relationship did you build with the interdisciplinary team that treated you at Alcla?
I have some nice and funny anecdotes with all those who treated me. I don’t think they know how important they are for patients. I am very grateful for giving me a second chance in life, which I am taking advantage of and enjoying, with new goals, dreams and projects. This is thanks to the team of professionals and nurses at Alcla. I am still in touch with most of them, through social media, phone calls or visits to the clinic from time to time.
What is your life like today?
I go once a month to Alcla for a general check-up, Botox, arm and cane-free walking exercises. Fortunately, I only need to recover the mobility of my left arm which, with a lot of effort, I move very little. Today I lead an almost normal and independent life. I work, I resumed my accounting studies, I go out with friends and a girl from time to time (laughs). And something that was very important for me: I started driving again, which was what I needed to feel more independent.