Resident Name: Albert Sykes - Age: 71
“When I arrived I couldn’t do anything for myself – it was a very difficult time for me. The staff here helped me out of it.”
Following Albert’s discharge from the hospital, he arrived at Oak Lawn Respiratory & Rehabilitation Center in a state of mental confusion from his recent stroke, unable to move, and breathing with the assistance of a ventilator through a tracheostomy in his throat. His prognosis looked grim.
Prior to having a debilitating stroke at age 67, he worked hard supporting his family by driving 600 miles a day for a local trucking firm. However, he was the poster child for not taking care of himself. Along with having high blood pressure and a heart murmur, he sat behind the wheel of a huge rig every day, smoking a pack a day, not eating right, and never getting any exercise. It was just a matter of time before his unhealthy lifestyle caught up with him and changed his life forever.
After arrival, Albert could eventually sit in a special type of wheelchair called a “Geri-chair”. For 18 months, that was pretty much all he could do. Recalling his life at that time, he said, “I just wanted to say, forget it – I give up.”
But constant encouragement from his family and from the staff started turning around his emotions. He began hearing what they were saying to him – “You can do better than you’re doing – hang in there.”
Today, no longer on a ventilator, he is planning to move into an assisted living community, walks up and down the facility’s stairs, and works out for an hour-plus on the physical therapy equipment. He’s come a long way.
“I’ve learned how to live a healthier lifestyle,” he said. “I don’t miss the cigarettes or the beer. I realize that everything I did contributed to my having a stroke. I now feel better than I have in years with lots more energy. I’m ready to be back on my own again.”
Resident Name: Roger Blackwell - Age: 58
“I was just out driving my truck when suddenly I knew I was having a heart attack. I drove myself straight to the emergency room.”
Roger had been previously diagnosed with heart problems and knew he had high blood pressure. But he never smoked and he had never had a heart attack until that fateful day in June.
He eventually ended up on a ventilator with a prolonged hospitalization before transferring to Oak Lawn Respiratory & Rehab. His previous hospital had been unable to successfully wean him off the ventilator so that he could start breathing on his own. Oak Lawn staff remembered his arrival well and how uncooperative he was at first. They explained to Roger that he would need to partner with them, and accept that healing takes time and discipline.
Now off a ventilator and speaking through a special device in his throat, he admits he wasn’t the most cooperative patient at first. “I got better because I listened to what they said – I just needed convincing,” he said with
a mischievous smile. Because his healing has progressed so well, he is scheduled to have his tracheotomy tube removed soon.
For Roger, regaining his health also included learning how to eat better. “Before I got sick, I ate anything and everything I wanted,” he said. “Now I know no more fried chicken, BBQ ribs and donuts.” A nearby staff person chuckled at his disclosure and cheerfully reminded him that he can still eat his favorite foods occasionally, adding, “Just remember, Roger, everything in moderation.”