Regular joe saves resident’s life

by Town Reminder

Regular joe saves resident’s life
Diane Chlosta, coffee credited with rescuing neighbor

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer,

SOUTH HADLEY – Diane Chlosta makes a great cup of coffee – her neighbor Julie can attest to that after Chlosta saved her life while she was having a stroke.
It all began the Saturday afternoon of Oct. 29 , when Chlosta had friends over to her Brittany Road home to help split wood. She purchased a Dunkin’ Donuts Box ‘O Joe to share with those who helped. That evening, a Nor’easter sauntered through South Hadley, leaving the entire town without power for multiple days.
The close-knit neighborhood in which Chlosta resides often watches out for one another – Chlosta especially for her neighbor and dear friend Julie. She checked in on the 84-year-old woman, who lives alone, the next morning following the massive storm. Julie was fine, despite not having heat in her home. When asked by Chlosta if there was anything she wanted, Julie said she’d love a cup of coffee. Chlosta complied and learned another neighbor would give Julie a hot meal at the end of the day.
Having lived parallel from one another for the past 13.5 years has made the duo quite close. Each one has access to the other’s home. They know one another’s family members and more importantly, their routines. Julie is an early riser, normally up and at ‘em at 7 a.m. “I always wait for one shade to open,” said Chlosta of Julie’s morning habits.
However, come Monday morning- now 36 hours without power or heat to either of their homes – Julie’s shade did not rise. Chlosta had woken up early, cooking breakfast on the grill she had just purchased for her husband for their recent fifteenth wedding anniversary. Warming on the grill was leftover coffee for Julie.
For some reason, Chlosta said, she was overcome with an urge to call her friend right away, bothered that she had noticed Julie’s shade remained drawn past the normal hour. “I called and it was a very garbled message,” said Chlosta of what she heard on the other end of the line. “You couldn’t understand a word. I said, ‘Julie, if this is you, I will be right there.’” Confused, Chlosta hung up and decided to re-dial the number she had pressed into her phone, just in case she had called the wrong number. She hadn’t.
Chlosta, still in her pajamas and bathrobe, rushed over to Julie’s home with a key in one hand and the coffee in the other. “I walked in and there she was on the floor,” said Chlosta. Julie was having a stroke.
As a former home health aid for 20 years who had to leave her beloved profession due to Multiple Sclerosis, Chlosta knew not to move or jostle the woman on the floor. Looking around the freezing cold home for something with which to warm the elderly woman, Chlosta grabbed a blanket and threw it over Julie and dialed 9-1-1. She then removed her own bathrobe and nightgown, warm from her own body’s temperature, and covered Julie with them to keep her warm. “I laid over her and we prayed together,” said Chlosta. “Then the paramedics came and whisked her away.”
Due to Chlosta’s quick reaction, Julie was admitted to a local hospital within one hour of having a stroke and given tissue plasminogen activator, more commonly referred to as TPA, within the “golden” three-hour window. TPA breaks up any formed blood clots causing a stroke. Its effectiveness increases when administered as quickly as possible, but only within three hours. “We got her in the golden hour,” said Chlosta. “That’s what saved her life.”
But Julie sees that a little differently, with more emphasis on Chlosta saving her life.
“I remember everything I did that morning,” said Julie, who recalled heading into the bathroom that Monday morning to wash her face and not being able to fold the towel. “I tried it and I fell over,” she said. “I tried to get up and I fell over again. Then, I crawled out of the bathroom into the hallway because the telephone was hanging on a wall. I tried getting up on a chair and I kept falling.”
Julie’s phone is a heavy, old rotary dial phone that miraculously remained connected during the power outage when not just her neighborhood lacked power at that time, but more than 80 percent of South Hadley. “Finally, the phone rang,” said Julie. Diane was on the other line. Miraculous again, Julie was able to maneuver the ancient receiver off the telephone, but she could not speak. Julie hung up the phone and fell once more. The phone rang a second time. “I couldn’t grab it and I heard Diane, saying, ‘Julie, I’m coming,’ and she came and she covered me with a blanket and I remember everything,” said Julie as she broke down in tears while clutching Diane’s hand, recounting the ordeal with her. “She saved my life. I know she did. I know she saved my life.”
Julie is making a fantastic recovery. She has moved straight from the intensive care unit to a rehabilitation center where each day she is regaining functions. Already, she can squeeze her hand and speak clearly. She is slated to return home soon.
For now, though, she is relaxing at the rehabilitation center, cracking jokes on a daily basis and converting her roommate into an X-Factor and Dancing With The Stars fan. She is in constant contact with Diane and her best friend and neighbor, Vivian Moriarty. “We check on each other every day,” said Moriarty. “That’s how close we are.” Moriarty and Julie share a birth date, although Julie calls Moriarty the “old lady” of the two, as Moriarty is four years older. “She’s a miracle worker,” said Moriarty of Chlosta.
The humble Chlosta is saving the actual box in which the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee came, that life-saving cup of coffee which kept Julie in the forefront of her mind during the Nor’easter aftermath. “The box is going to be bronzed, I think,” laughed Chlosta. A public relations manager for Dunkin’ Donuts, McCall Gosselin, said, “We are happy to hear that everyone is OK and doing well.”
As she sat next to Julie this past Tuesday in the local rehabilitation center, reliving last Monday’s moments of miracles, Chlosta expressed how difficult it was to put into words how she felt that morning. She revealed it wasn’t normal for her to be up that early and she can’t explain why she had the urge to call Julie. “I honest to God don’t know how to explain it,” she said. “Something just sent me there. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t cold. There was a peace – a feeling I’ve never felt before in my life. It feels good.”
It’s the feeling of saving a life.