Hawley, Minn., woman doing better after rare spinal stroke
HAWLEY, Minn.--The mother of a 3-year-old knows how much work it takes to care for a son. But since Julianna Shulstad suffered from a rare type of stroke in February, the familiar activities--cooking, washing, playing--have become difficult or im...
HAWLEY, Minn.--The mother of a 3-year-old knows how much work it takes to care for a son.
But since Julianna Shulstad suffered from a rare type of stroke in February, the familiar activities--cooking, washing, playing--have become difficult or impossible.
"I can't help him the way I used to in the bathtub," Julianna Shulstad said of her son, Ian. "I can't just pick him up on a whim and cuddle him. And I can't wrestle around with him on the floor, chase him around the yard. I can't do any of that."
But the 31-year-old Hawley woman who became partially paralyzed due to a spinal cord stroke has seen Ian take care of her.
Julianna's husband, Matthew, says Ian likes to hold the door for his mother, who often uses a wheelchair.
"He likes pushing her if she needs help pushing, or getting a door for her," said Matthew Shulstad, a mechanic. "Even though he can't quite get those big doors, he'll hold that door open."
Other members of the Hawley community are supportive of the Shulstads, for whom a benefit is being held today from 4 to 8 p.m. at St. Andrews Catholic Church in Hawley.
The benefit includes family-friendly activities and a silent auction, with proceeds going toward Julianna Shulstad's medical, travel and treatment expenses.
She was preparing Ian for day care on a day in early February when she felt a pain in her ribcage and "it felt like my leg was going asleep."
She went to a Fargo hospital and from there traveled to Minneapolis for further testing. Meanwhile, "the numbness line was moving up from the hips to the mid-chest."
She learned from doctors that she likely suffered from a spinal cord stroke, a rare condition that she said accounts for less than 1 percent of strokes. She does not know the cause.
It left her with partial paralysis from the mid-chest down. But over the past five months, her condition has improved dramatically.
She remembers when she could not even turn around in bed without a nurse's help. Now she can walk--with assistance--and she has gone back to work part time as an administrative assistant. She also goes to physical therapy four days a week.
"I view it a lot like a mother going through labor," she said of her struggle. "I just keep pushing through."
Her husband says his "stubborn, very determined" wife has kept a positive attitude since she was hospitalized.
Her next goal is to drive again. Her friends, neighbors, volunteers and husband have been giving her lifts to work and to medical appointments.
Matthew Shulstad says that at "every corner" he finds people who want to support his family.
"There's not words that you can say that thank enough," he said.
How to help
To donate an item to the silent auction today:
call Julie Tamble at (701) 866-2211 or Jennifer Geeslin at (218) 329-5048, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Checks or cash may be sent to:
Julianna Rose Shulstad Benefit Account at Bell State Bank & Trust
5680 23rd Ave. S., Suite 101, Fargo ND 58104
Online donations may be made at: