One Sunday morning at church, Alejandra Rosales Murillo and her four sisters were sitting with their parents when one of the girls noticed their father’s face drooping.
I whispered the news to their mother, Maria Rosales Murillo. She leaned toward her husband, Jose Rosales Campos, and asked him if something was wrong.
“It’s possible that he paralyzed Bell again,” he said. A year ago, he had a brief episode with this condition, which can cause temporary facial weakness.
As the information was whispered to each family member, the commotion caught the attention of the guest preacher. He stopped his engagement to ask if everything was okay. Jose nodded yes. Then the preacher led the congregants in prayer for José and interrupted the service.
Al-Khatib urged the family to take Jose to the hospital, but he refused. He insisted that they continue with their plans for the day, which included a meal to celebrate one of their daughters’ nineteenth birthday.
The family lived in Calexico, California. Although the restaurant was a short drive away, it was across the border in Mexicali, Mexico.
By the time they reached Mexicali, Jose’s speech was indistinct. He was not responsive. Maria headed to the local hospital. The hospital refused them because Jose’s medical insurance covered him only in the United States.
Maria returned to California. Usually a quick flight, but on this day – December 23, 2012 – the border crossing was clogged with holiday travelers.
Finally, after about four hours of church service, the family arrived at a hospital in nearby Brawley, California.
Doctors determined that Jose, 49, had two strokes. His right side was paralyzed and he could not speak.
Alejandra, passing by a beer, stayed at the hospital to provide assistance. When she was in high school at the time, she knew she needed to act as everything from the translator for her non-English speaking parents to simply helping them navigate this new journey. While there, she also learned more about strokes. She realized that her father was in great danger.
He was obese, drank a lot of beer and preferred pizza and pork chops. Take medication for diabetes and high blood pressure.
“My dad used to go to the doctor once a year and always said he needed to take better care of himself, but he never did,” Alli said. “We’ll all try to talk to him, but he’ll say, ‘I’m fine, don’t worry. I’m here working.”
After a week in the hospital, Jose returned home in a wheelchair. He gradually progressed to cane use, although post-stroke episodes sometimes required him to use a wheelchair again.
Jose was working in a retail store in the United States and as a burial supervisor in Mexico. Now he could not. He got some unemployment and disability insurance, as well as Medicaid, but the family struggled. Maria was playing around with her job and taking care of Jos.
Beer thought about leaving high school to earn money. Her parents insisted that she graduate. I did, and then I went to work. I got a job in the fields of Imperial Valley. She had to get up at three in the morning to get to work to harvest vegetables.
While this helped ease the financial burden on the family, Ally was not satisfied. She wanted a career.
Inspired by those who helped her father, she wanted to help the sick.
By taking out student loans, Ale was able to earn a degree as a medical/clinical assistant.
From 2017 to 2021, she worked as a receptionist at the same hospital in Brawley that treated her father. Last year, I started working as a case manager, helping healthcare professionals and patients access medications by working with their insurance company to secure coverage.
She is able to work remotely, so she logs in from her parents’ house. This allows her to spend time with her father every day.
“He’s like my co-worker,” she said. “During my break, I’ll see him watch the news and I’ll make him something to eat.”
Jose mostly gets around with a cane, although he often uses a wheelchair or scooter. He speaks a few words and points with his left hand to communicate. While his right leg has some movement, his right arm is still paralyzed.
One of Allie’s younger sisters, Adriana Rosales, was also inspired to help the sick. She works as a nurse at a hospital in Tempe, Arizona. She was 12 years old and she was very close to her father when he had the stroke.
“We had a good support system from our church and family, but I didn’t realize how difficult it was financially and emotionally,” Adriana said.
The sisters can’t help but wonder how things might be different if their families knew more about their stroke risks.
They also realize that they were most likely endangered by Spanish cultural traditions. Many of the foods they usually eat are not part of a healthy diet. Adding to the challenge, he added, health is a taboo topic. This is despite Hispanics having a relatively high rate high blood pressureAnd the obesity And the Type 2 diabetes.
“Our goal as a family is to spread awareness about stroke, especially in our community,” said Alli. We want them to know the extent to which this can affect not only the person who has had the stroke, but everyone around them.
Stories From the Heart chronicles the inspiring journeys of heart disease and stroke survivors, caregivers and advocates.
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