MONROE, CT — Christopher Stead, 20, of Monroe, was living in Oregon while studying for a business career, when he suffered a stroke in late July, and his family could not afford an air ambulance to fly him home.
But through an outpouring of support, a Go Fund Me page raised $37,907 — more than the goal of $35,000 — for the flight. Stead touched down in Connecticut on Oct. 19. He is now staying at the Hospital for Special Care, a rehabilitation facility in New Britain.
Sandy Kydd-Stead, Christopher’s mother, is overwhelmed by the generosity of the 438 people who made donations to the cause.
“Thank you so very much, from the bottom of our hearts,” she said Wednesday. “We are in awe and we are in shock. My friends told me how people in the town of Monroe came together and there were signs up that said, ‘Bring Christopher Home.’ It was a lot to take in. I can’t believe so many people did this for our family.”
Since returning home, Kydd-Stead said people are always asking how she and her family are.
Christopher Stead, who grew up in town and was a Boy Scout for Troop 62, earning his Eagle ranking, used to work at the Rite Aid pharmacy on Main Street. Kydd-Stead said she enjoys stopping by the store and talking to her son’s former co-workers.
“Going there is fun,” she said. “We go there every day.”
Full recovery possible
Kydd-Stead still visits her son every day, making the one hour drive to New Britain.
“Some of his friends have visited him and family has come — definitely more people are seeing him,” she said. “It’s good for him to see people.”
When Christopher Stead’s brother-in-law visited, Stead said, “hi Lenny,” without having to be told who he was, according to Kydd-Stead.
“The doctors are cautiously optimistic,” she said of the possibility of a full recovery. “Before, they couldn’t say anything.”
Medical staff has weaned Stead off the gastroenteric feeding tube and he is now eating three meals a day. The feeding tube will still be used when Stead cannot eat or eats less-than-50 percent of his meal, but his mother said that has only happened twice so far.
The Hospital for Special Care is having half hour sessions with Stead, who is still not able to stay awake for three hours.
“Now he can talk to you very slowly, and he takes a while to process,” Kydd-Stead said. “He has to have an MRI, because they’re looking into why he can’t move his feet more. He can barely wiggle his toes on both feet.”
Among the encouraging signs, Kydd-Stead said if you put a milk carton in Stead’s hand, he can grasp it and bring it to his mouth to drink.
Life at home
Since Stead’s stroke last summer, his parents and brother, James, have been living at Mario Pastega House on the hospital grounds, while visiting him at the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, Ore.
Kydd-Stead said it is for families, who live at least 30 miles away from the hospital. It costs $40 per room and her family paid for two rooms during their stay.
“That was an enormous help,” she said. “It’s like a Ronald McDonald House. There are 25 rooms and you share the fridge and kitchen. It was very nice. The staff was extraordinary. The house was extremely clean. They were such a nice group of people. They were empathetic to us and just so kind.”
But Kydd-Stead and her family are happy to be living at their house in Monroe again.
Two weeks before traveling to Oregon to be by their son Christopher’s side, Kydd-Stead’s husband, Stanley, had taken their kitchen apart for a massive renovation project.
“He’s a handyman, a jack of all trades,” Kydd-Stead said of her husband. “We came back to an empty kitchen, but that’s okay.”
Stanley is running his own business, Stosh’s Mobile Truck & Equipment Repair, working with his son, James, who is back to seeing his friends again. Kydd-Stead, who is a nurse, plans to return to her job at the Newtown Rehabilitation & Health Care Center on Nov. 14.
Now, all the Steads can do is pray for Christopher’s continued recovery. Kydd-Stead said she looks forward to the day when her son comes back to their house in Monroe.
“I can’t wait,” she said. “It’s going to be a long time.”