Samantha Gagno

When she first went to the doctor, they diagnosed her with vertigo and gave her medication to cope with the symptoms. However, even after this diagnosis, her continued dizziness led to several visits to the ER as well as appointments with several specialists. It wasn’t until her mother campaigned for an MRI that doctors discovered she had a cerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding in her brain. During the weeks that followed, the hemorrhage grew in size and she lost the ability to use most motor functions, including walking.

Samantha’s doctors scheduled her for brain surgery in October of 2014. When she woke up, she was experiencing double vision, she couldn’t lift her head nor could she walk. Her medical team then recommended her to Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital for treatment.

“That really changed the game for me,” said Samantha. “Without Spalding, I don’t think I would have had the same recovery.” Samantha spent 16 days at Spalding, where she re-learned how to walk, worked on correcting her double vision and underwent occupational therapy to help her return to her everyday life as a teacher and late night stand-up comedian.

“I did several balance activities and even played Dance Dance Revolution and Wii Sports as part of my recovery,” said Samantha. “They had something new every day, which kept it interesting. We worked on performing many activities that I would face in my daily life. I even taught a lesson to the 16 year old boys in the rehab program with me on the true history of Thanksgiving.”

During recovery, Samantha began writing a book about her brain surgery and comedic experiences called Breakups and Brain Hemorrhages: How You Can Make It Through Anything. She plans to finish and publish the humorous self-help book in the next year.

“Everyone at Spalding was so welcoming. The whole staff is made up of the most amazing people. I still go back and visit because they are such a big part of my life today,” said Samantha.