Talking Again Thanks to the RehabCentre’s Specialized Therapy
Judy Post of Hope is still amazed by her quick recovery thanks to the staff at the RehabCentre. These days she enjoys the little things in life, including spending time with her granddaughter.
Judy Post’s world began to slow down when her left side became weak and she began to have trouble swallowing. As the months went by, even her ability to speak was impaired. “After a while, I couldn’t talk, so I quit trying,” she said. Soon, she could no longer drive and needed her mother’s help for simple tasks.
She was referred for evaluation to an out-of-state clinic where they discovered the cause: Judy had Chiari malformation, a rare condition in which the skull presses brain tissue into the spinal canal. The pressure disrupted the signals her brain was sending to her body and caused the symptoms that were getting progressively worse.
Surgery corrected the problem, but after months of extremely limited activity, Judy needed help before she could walk, talk or even eat again.
“After my surgery, I came directly to the RehabCentre at MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot,” Post said. “My sister-in-law had been there, so I knew a little bit about how they worked, but I was totally amazed by that place. Those people are wonderful.”
“When I got there, I had no muscle tone,” she said. “The physical therapists worked with me every day to get my strength back. Before, I sat in a recliner all day because I had fallen too many times. Now, I don’t use a walker, and I don’t fall.”
Judy said therapy was rigorous, usually three hours each day, but she didn’t mind. “If I felt like I couldn’t do something or was just too tired, all I had to do was tell them that. We’d switch and do something else.”
Despite the hard work of therapy, Judy found the atmosphere relaxed and positive.
“All the therapists had a positive attitude that was really beneficial,” she said. “In fact, they were all wonderful, but my favorite therapist was Heidi VanDeMark.”
“Heidi gave me back what I really needed – my ability to speak and eat.” Judy’s condition required a specialized type of therapy that stimulated her voice box so that she could swallow and speak. “Heidi hooked electrodes to the bottom of my chin and gently ‘jolted’ my voice box so I could swallow!”
This particular therapy was crucial for Judy, who had lost half her body weight before she was diagnosed due to increased difficulty swallowing. “When I was cleared to eat soft foods, Heidi brought me fresh asparagus from her home,” she said. “Heidi was a life-saver, physically and psychologically. She was a big part of my recovery.”
Judy remembers that despite the progress she had made, she was nervous about going home. “Their goal was to get me to a certain point and then release me,” she said. “At first, that thought made me panic, but they reassured me with their actions and their words. I knew that when I left, I would be strong enough to take care of myself.” Judy’s spiritual life helped her, too. “I believe that God has a role in my life -- I am where I am, when I am, for a reason.”
She now goes to outpatient physical therapy, and she continues to make progress. “My 4-year-old granddaughter is thrilled that grandma is back,” Post said. “Before, it was all I could do to walk in and sit down until it was time to leave. Now, we’re looking forward to going to the water park again.”
Judy is also looking forward to achieving another goal: to regain her driver’s license so that she can take her mother on an autumn road trip to New England.
“I’m still totally amazed that they turned me around in two weeks,” Post said. “They’re wonderful over there. I would recommend the RehabCentre to anybody.”
The RehabCentre at MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot is a hospital-based unit specializing in intensive physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapy. Patients receive a minimum of three hours of therapy each day, along with 24-hour nursing and physician care. Those who would like more information about the RehabCentre may contact the community relations coordinator at (989) 466-3382 or visit www.midmichigan.org/rehabcentre.