Author Topic: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed  (Read 746 times)

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Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« on: October 28, 2013, 09:11:45 AM »
PITTSBURGH - She arrives in the beautiful book-lined conference room of the Heinz family offices in the EQT Tower Downtown, looking very much like the Teresa Heinz Kerry of old -- a little more tired, perhaps, but with the signature tousled hair, clutching books, papers, an iPad, and, of course, an elegant scarf tossed over her shoulder.

It's hard to imagine that just under four months ago, on July 7, after suffering a seizure at her family home on Nantucket, Mrs. Kerry was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she was in intensive care for a few days before moving to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital for a nearly three-week stay.

Last week, though, she was back in Pittsburgh for the first time since June for board meetings at the Heinz Endowments -- the family's $1.4 billion foundation -- and in an interview Friday, she talked frankly about her life, the future of the endowments and her return to health after this summer's scare.

The cause of her seizure, she said, wasn't related to her 2009 treatment for breast cancer, but rather the lingering effects "after a bad concussion that was not properly treated at all ... from a very bad fall," four years ago.

According to medical research, such seizures might not appear for as long as 20 years after an accident. The brain's repair process -- the forming of new connections and circuits -- may take years, and while strength and memory return, sometimes the circuits formed can be overly excited and lead to seizures.

But her doctors don't know for sure.

"I guess the way these things get resolved is that [the concussion's injuries] probably get absorbed by the brain, scar tissue, too, and in my case I don't know how long it took to be absorbed," she said. "But there were a lot of signs of impacts over the four years, and probably the last absorption, I think, was about the time I had my seizure. I don't know if I lost all of it in six months, in two years, or all in one week. We don't know."

When Mrs. Kerry was moved to Spaulding to begin her long climb back to wellness, "It was hard." She had no balance, and it was hard to mentally focus. Today, she goes three times a week for physical therapy, in Washington or Boston, and exercises to sharpen her brain's acuity. She says the doctors have told her she's made a "miraculous" recovery.

"I have a great feeling of gratitude in my heart that my brain is still working," she said, adding that she is "in the 97th percentile for my age group in terms of analytical function."

There is a touch of wonder -- and pride -- in her voice, but then in the next breath, she credits her brain's resilience both to an iPad app game of problem-solving exercises called Lumosity -- "I've got two foreign ministers doing it" -- and her background as a simultaneous interpreter, a special skill she learned as a young woman who, growing up in Mozambique and educated in South Africa and Switzerland, was already fluent in five languages. Somehow, the skills she learned at simultaneous interpretation so many years ago "were still present and allowed me to revive my brain faster than I should have."

The recovery process has been a fascinating one, she said, and, not surprisingly, she wants to share it -- so she's already pondering an idea for a health conference, to be held in Pittsburgh, "not just about the brain but all the new research, games, therapies and all the possibilities that the brain will allow us to do for our children, our families and ourselves, and in understanding that lead to a kinder world, and not be so fearful about it."

The problems, she said, is that doctors "don't spend much time with patients for the most part, and you cannot do neurology unless they know your construct, your background, your history. So I want to share a lot of what I've learned."

While she can't drink alcohol anymore -- "I'm mad about that," she laughed -- she has thrived on the challenge of bringing her 75-year-old brain back up to speed.

She first learned about Lumosity while watching the news on television over the summer. "It was all about [Anthony] Wiener and that mayor from San Diego, and I thought, I can't believe this is happening in this country."

When she saw the television advertisement for the game, though, all thoughts of mayors or would-be behaving badly vanished. She asked a nurse to put it on her iPad, and realized, to her great relief, that she was not only good at the exercises but having fun.

"There is an anticipatory quality to managing this, people don't understand that. They think if you look good, you're fine, you're great. You're actually thinking clearer, but not for long. [I'm focusing] much longer now, but for the beginning, maybe for 30 minutes, and then, whoosh, the brain gets tired."

For now, her life is focused on her recovery, her grandchildren -- two, with a third on the way -- and her 24 godchildren and their children, reverting to her role as "Mama T," as she was always known by her friends.

Does she see her husband, Secretary of State John Kerry, very much?

"Of course not," she responds immediately
, noting that she has not been able to travel at all -- and his trips are exhausting. "His aides say they've never seen anyone work so hard."

"I keep thinking I'm doing it for the world," she said of letting her husband go -- and she seems to be only half-joking. She had hoped to stay this past weekend at her Fox Chapel home, "but he's going off again, and I have to see him. I know he's good at his job. But it's not a life, and some days are hard, but I believe in what he is doing -- even when I disagree with him, which I sometimes do."

It sounds like Teresa Heinz Kerry really is back.
Post-Gazette

_____________
So was the 2009 fall due to too much gin?
« Last Edit: October 28, 2013, 09:50:59 AM by mountaineer »
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2013, 09:22:35 AM »
Why she was visiting Pittsburgh:
Quote
Teresa Heinz Kerry offers insight on upheaval, shale center connection
October 27, 2013 10:15 PM
By Joyce Gannon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Teresa Heinz Kerry, chair of the Heinz Endowments, said she and other family members on the endowments' board wanted to collaborate with the energy industry on ways to responsibly drill for gas in the Marcellus Shale, but they did not expect the Center for Sustainable Shale Development to be launched out of that effort.

"I was never involved with the center. ... I don't know how it came about," Mrs. Kerry said Friday during an interview at the endowments' Downtown offices.

Creation and funding of the center earlier this year was widely considered to be a catalyst for the abrupt departures in August of two key staff members at the endowments, including Caren Glotfelty, its top environmental program officer.

Mrs. Kerry, who was in Pittsburgh for meetings including an endowments board meeting, refused to link Ms. Glotfelty's firing to creation of the center. Nor would she comment on the departure of Douglas Root, longtime communications director at the prominent charitable organization.

The foundation's executive director, Robert Vagt, announced Oct. 14 he also will step down, although he has not said when he will leave.

Many observers believe Ms. Glotfelty, Mr. Root and Mr. Vagt all may have been caught up in the fallout from launching the center, which apparently did not have the full support of the Heinz family members who sit on the endowments board. Besides Mrs. Kerry, who is the widow of U.S. Sen. H. John Heinz III, her sons, H. John IV, Andre and Christopher, are also on the board as is Christopher's wife, Sasha.

Mrs. Kerry, known to be strong supporter of environmental causes, called the theory that Ms. Glotfelty and Mr. Root were dismissed because of their support for the center "conjecture."

"I don't care about [speculation]," she said. "I know what we stand for."

The Heinz Endowments, with assets of $1.4 billion, is ranked the 49th largest foundation in the United States. It dolled out $75 million in grants in 2012, including $16.8 million to environmental programs. Founded by members of the Heinz food empire, it is no longer formally connected to the H.J. Heinz Co.

The Center for Sustainable Shale Development is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that states its mission as supporting best practices for shale development. Its partners include energy companies such as Chevron, EQT, Consol and Shell; environmental groups including the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Penn Future; and philanthropies.

Mrs. Kerry traced its origins to conversations she had with Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil, about finding a "transparent way" to develop the resources of the Marcellus Shale.

"We feared the cowboys would take over or there would be no responsible mechanism, no transparency, to do it right. ... We decided to collaborate with the environmental and public health people. That's what I absolutely sanctioned and brought to the endowments," she said.

Asked how that initial idea to collaborate evolved into the center without her or the board's knowledge, Mrs. Kerry said, "I don't know. Things changed. I don't know how or when."

While she acknowledged approving initial funding for "a collaboration," the board did not authorize the center, she said.

She said that while she was hospitalized last summer after suffering a seizure, "Maybe I wasn't functioning well."  :pondering:

Some foundation observers have speculated that while she was ill, Andre Heinz, known to be an avid environmentalist, assumed more control of foundation affairs and was involved in firing the staff members.

Mrs. Kerry said Andre Heinz did fill in for her during at least one foundation meeting, though it was not a board meeting. She said he has been "attacked because he is an idealist."

"He is one of the brightest people there are and is passionate like his father and doesn't put up with nonsense. ... It's probably an easy way for people ... to criticize what they don't like. And I don't care, quite frankly."

Asked whether Andre Heinz might succeed her as the endowments' chair, Mrs. Kerry, 75, said, "He's not being groomed."

"They're all there ... and they're very good people," she said referring to all three of her sons. "Andre is very capable and verbal" while John and Christopher each have their own strengths and capabilities, she said. "How they'll manage [the transition], we'll work on that."

And she doesn't expect the transition to be soon.

"I told them I'd be here and I'll be chair if I'm 150 ... that's my intention."

She also doesn't anticipate the endowments' focus on southwestern Pennsylvania will change as its leadership is handed over to the next generation.

"The family feels ownership" of the Pittsburgh region, she said.

As for selecting a successor to Mr. Vagt, who is 66, Mrs. Kerry said, "[Executive directors] can't take this job for a long time if it's at this pace. It's demanding."

Commenting on the closure at the end of this year of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit founded two decades ago to sponsor research and policy discussions, Mrs. Kerry said it was not sustainable because of federal government funding cuts.

"It was sad to see it go," she said, but she hopes to possibly transfer some of its programs to the endowments.

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
--- Oscar Levant

Offline GourmetDan

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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013, 09:43:30 AM »
Quote
She said that while she was hospitalized last summer after suffering a seizure, "Maybe I wasn't functioning well."


               

Not to worry, she's back to 'normal' now...

« Last Edit: October 28, 2013, 09:43:56 AM by GourmetDan »
"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." - Ecclesiastes 10:2

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Offline happyg

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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2013, 10:09:23 AM »
She and her hubby remind me of the Simpsons for some reason.

Offline GourmetDan

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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2013, 10:12:15 AM »

I get the Addams Family vibe...


"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." - Ecclesiastes 10:2

"The sole purpose of the Republican Party is to serve as an ineffective alternative to the Democrat Party." - GourmetDan

Offline happyg

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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2013, 10:27:01 AM »
I get the Addams Family vibe...

That was my first thought, but I couldn't remember the name! LOL!

Online mountaineer

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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2013, 10:40:00 AM »
They're creepy and they're kooky
mysterious and spooky.
They're all together ooky
the Kerry Family.
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
--- Oscar Levant

Offline EC

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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2013, 10:51:55 AM »
Seizures happen. I had one as the result of a concussion. It was about 8 months after the initial incident. Scared the ever loving crap out of the missus when it happened, too, and I had to sell the motorbike.

Her husband I despise. Her - well - she has crap taste in men and terrible politics, but she has done me no harm.
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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2013, 03:12:17 PM »
When I see her I am reminded of when Lurch's campaign passed through our part of the world. He held a rally (attended entirely by union thugs in matching T-shirts, but I digress) while Teresa and Mrs. Edwards ordered the campaign staff to find them some fine cuisine and a great deal of wine. It's a small city, so they had to make several stops at restaurants and grocery stores, but the story is that several cases of wine were loaded onto the bus.
The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
--- Oscar Levant

Offline EC

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Re: Secret behind Teresa Heinz Kerry 'miraculous' recovery revealed
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2013, 03:43:51 PM »
Now I have the giggles.

Bus pulls up to the market - driver hops out and runs in to the store.

"Where is your good wine?"

"Which one would you like, Sir?"

"The good one." Frown in thought. "All of the good ones."
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