Survivor Around the Globe, Ronald Kratz

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Ronald KratzI was planned to travel 500 miles to North Carolina and surprise visit my aunt and uncle, but both had plans to go out of state so I cancelled reservations. Since I had off work, I took my mom out to visit my dads grave and stopped in a local casino resort on the way.

I was in a different area while my mom was playing penny slot machines. I started to feel nauseous and like I was falling fast, as if I jumped off a cliff.

I woke up six days later, the window blinds opening felt piercing to my eyes and brain. It turned out that I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The doctor told my family I had a 2% chance of living and the best scenario would be a nursing home for the remainder of my life, which thankfully wasn’t accurate. I was able to come back home!

I do have a lot of nerve pain, my entire left side is semi-paralyzed, I’m blind on the left side of both eyes (I’m very thankful I can see the other two ways), but I can now walk short distances. I miss my work terribly as senior painter in a large retirement/nursing facility. The positive is that I was able to get a mortgage to build and house my sister and five boys. Like my dad always said, “Everything happens for a reason.”

My neurologist did however ban me from driving and since I was previously driving back roads, I was eager to find an easier way to get around and take photos of nature. My good friend I met on the online JNF support group coached and encouraged me to get a recumbent bike, so I went on Craigslist and found one just 10 miles away. It certainly improved my quality of life and enabled me to get back to what I love doing.

I, in return, encourage other survivors to never give up – where there’s a will, there’s always a way. I was even able to attend the JNF ‘Batter Up for Brains’ event at the Philadelphia Phillies baseball game this past May! I surprised myself too, I was actually able to walk the entire event and only rested once! My mom used the walker with the seat I had with my nephew pushing her.

That event was a highlight of my life. Mary, my friend from the online support group, also introduced me to my boyhood hero’s (Joe Niekro) daughter, founder of JNF – the wonderful Natalie Niekro. She also introduced me to Judith Riker, a Facebook admin of the online support group. It was so great to meet everyone in-person.

In my free time I enjoy gardening, attending music festivals to see my family friends rock band and of course, riding my trike!

Thank you to the Joe Niekro Foundation for all that you’ve done.

The Joe Niekro Foundation would like to thank Ronald for sharing his survivor story with us. We’re incredibly grateful to have such an active member of our community!

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