by Jamie Heath
On November 22, 2013, I was in gym class stretching out my leg when it started going numb. I knew exactly what was happening because it had happened five years before. I was having a hemorrhagic stroke. I didn't want to accept that it was really happening. I was taken to the ER in Berlin where my family was already there waiting for me, dreading to see my slumped face on that gurney. A CT scan was ordered to confirm what we all already knew, my brain was actually bleeding. I was rushed to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington and the next thing I remember was waking up in the ICU, tubes down my throat and not able to move a muscle.
Seven days later, I had gotten well enough for them to ship me to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. I made some great friends over the six weeks that I was there but they did not give me a break. Every single day it was always either speech language pathology (SLP), physical therapy (PT) or occupational therapy (OT). I came back home New Years Eve of 2013. You never know how much you miss home until you've been away for a month and a half.
I had one day of rest and then it was back to work here at UVM Health Network - Central Vermont Medical Center Rehabilitation Therapy in Berlin. I was having eight therapy sessions a week which included OT, PT and SLP. That's enough to drive anybody insane! But my therapists were outstanding and made my workouts so much fun that I didn’t even know that the workouts were hard! They made sure I didn’t slack when they knew I could do better and I will always be grateful for that. It was an amazing partnership!
It’s now been 2 ½ years since my first therapy session at CVMC Rehab and I’m down to one OT session a month. Because of my therapists’ dedication to me, I am walking, reading and have regained significant use of my arm and hand; something unheard of from a double stroke survivor. And even though I no longer attend regular rehabilitative therapy, I still feel the strength and support my therapists gave me for those two years and that is what is carrying on with me to this day.