Rhonda Brew, well known in Patagonia and Sonoita for her sign painting and art, is recovering in a rehabilitation center from a stroke, the result of a blood clot in the right side of the brain which paralyzed the left side of her body.
She has received support from more than 150 people, including family, friends, and acquaintances, through a GoFundMe account organized by Hal Arnest which has raised over $18,000.
Rhonda is being assured by health care staff and physical therapists that she is steadily improving and becoming stronger. She reports that she is learning a lot about the process of recovery. Rhonda writes, “I am going to do my best to describe what happens when a person has a stroke. Imagine going to work each day, using the usual route to get there. One day, there is an accident or something obstructing your route, like a rockslide or something that causes you to have to find another way to get to your destination. It’s a slow process learning a detour, but the more you use the detour, the quicker it becomes easier to get through the roadblock.
“The same thing is happening to a stroke victim. The brain has to find another route to communicate with the body. Eventually connections start being made and with practice it will get easier. The legs and feet are usually the first to establish connections. The hands and arms are last in most cases. Small baby steps. It is a very careful journey so as not to cause any more damage to the parts of the body that are not responding yet. Large doses of faith and patience are required. It’s a slow journey re-routing the connections to the body and brain.”
What Rhonda is experiencing recalls the art project she recently completed – a series of symbolic images about connection and reconnection. In one painting, a person is pictured with right and left hemispheres of the brain working together, while the hands are pouring fire (energy, will) and water (feeling, intuition) together in the right proportions.
Donations through GoFundMe are about done, but the site will stay open for a few more weeks. Rhonda’s son, Johnny Feldmann, will manage the account for the donations.
As Rhonda continues her recovery, there will be many expenses, including interim care, temporary assisted living, and remodeling her Patagonia home with ramps, safety bars etc., ongoing physical & occupational therapy, shopping, and transportation. Johnny resides in Mayfair, AZ, and will be caring for Rhonda in the interim, with the help of his partner, Kassie. He can be reached at email@example.com.