My name is Zvonimir Filipović and I am a 30-year old professor of Croatian language and literature home based in Zagreb, Croatia. In February 2016 I got infected by the bacteria listeria which caused a brain stem infection and for the next 5 months I fought for my life. As a result of this severe illness, I completely lost the ability to move, talk, eat or drink on my own. I had a feeding tube and the only way I could communicate with others was by blinking with my eyes for yes or no. When I first started my rehabilitation, the doctors told me that I could get better, but the process would take a very long time. They said it will take years to recover. Fortunately, the rehabilitation process is going well, but the cost of the same is quite high.
So far, people have shown a lot of compassion and helped me a lot through donations. If it wasn't for all the good people, today I would not have achieved at least a certain level of independence. At one point of the process, I doubted that even that would ever happen.
Soon it will be four years since I got sick. My rehab included not only physiotherapy and speech rehabilitation but also emotional, social and psychic therapy. Since I am a professor of Croatian language and my goal is to work in my profession again I have worked specifically on the art of communication, which was unfortunately affected by my illness (Imagine that you are silent for two years; your brain simply forgets all the basics). It was hard for me to re-socialize, rebuild my emotional intelligence, find new hobbies, and bring back the old ones.
I go to physical therapies, speech therapies, hippotherapies (horse riding) and some robotics therapies (I don't have enough money for robotics therapies because they are unfortunately very expensive) every day. I finished my facial electro therapy which strengthened my facial musculature very much (I amchewing and swallowing as before). My Speech has improved to a level that my family and friends can understand me. Still, I cannot stop at this level; I need to perfect my coarticulation and discourse which I know nowadays is possible.
The new wheelchair (single hand drive) allows me to move around the apartment freely and independently. For now I am still completely dependent on other people in the transfers (bed to wheelchair, going to the toilet, entering the car etc). This is something I still have to work on and which is my next goal. The physical therapies cost € 600 per month, speech therapies cost € 100 per month, and horse riding therapies also cost € 100 per month, even though the costs are very high and sometimes seem unattainable, I promised myself that I will not stop this fight, because If I stop, I will never reach my goal which is to regain my health and get my life back.
As a result of the disease, the nerve that gives movement to the eyes (the oculomotor nerve) was damaged. So far I've trained my eye to reduce strabismus, with exercises which I found on YouTube and on the Internet.
My girlfriend Ana found out about these special vision therapies in Ljubljana, Slovenia (unfortunately there are no such therapies in Croatia). I could benefit from these therapies because I'd be supervised by a specialist – a vision therapist. I was told that it would take at least 6 months of training to see the first results. For this six-month period, I would need 2000 € (one visit to the office per week within 6 months is 1080 €, Home Vivid Vision therapy with the purchase of Oculus Go glasses is about 900 €).
If you are wondering why I wish to train my eyes I will explain why. The truth is that I can move my eyes from left to right but not from up to down which disables me to see the floor as I walk. Momently, this situation makes it difficult for me to obtain a balance while taking steps forward. We read a lot about the benefits of vision therapy, and the new world trends pay more attention to these types of therapies particularly in situations similar to mine and the results are extremely good, especially referring to brain neuroplasticity. My neurologist also agrees.
Previous physical therapies, tendon surgery and other therapies have helped me improve my postural control and to gain on range of motion. Now I would go to a higher level of rehab and try to strike a balance (at the same time I would gain independence in transfers).
Everything I went through during these years of rehab allowed me to balance and stand on my own for 5 minutes, giving me hope for further improvement. I don't want to ever give up on my ultimate goal. Those who know me personally know that I am positive person who always looks forward to a better future. I want to live this life to the maximum and start a family one day.
My girlfriend and I live in a rented apartment, and the rent and overhead costs are higher than our overall income. Ana is about to graduate and start working so I need to be able to stay home and take care of myself. I need your help once again to achieve my next goal, any amount small or great will help, even sharing this information with your friends or family.
I appreciate your support and thank you for helping me!
P.S. the amount written is required for therapies for a period of 6 months!