Left Unable to Walk or Talk – One Patients Journey of Overcoming Stroke

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Stroke

On Sept. 8, 2010, 61-year-old Margi Thompson laid down for a nap before going on her regular two and a half mile paddle boarding ride – a route that usually took her an hour and a half to complete – around Naples, Long Beach. An excellent swimmer and avid paddle boarder, Margi rarely wore a life vest out on the water.

Her husband Larry came home late that afternoon and waited for Margi to awake from her nap. He checked on her and she appeared to be sleeping peacefully on her stomach. What Larry didn’t know was that Margi had just suffered a stroke in her sleep. He checked on her a second time, this time turning her face up, and immediately recognized the signs of a stroke.

Leading Stroke Care

The paramedics arrived at her side in less than seven minutes. She was rushed in critical condition to the MemorialCare Neuroscience Institute Long Beach Memorial, where she spent 35 days at its leading stroke program. Margi is unable to recall anything from her first five days in the hospital.

“Larry tells friends and family we’re so blessed, I would not be here today if I had gone on my paddle boarding adventure,” says Margi.

She had survived her stroke, but her real journey was about to begin, because once she came to, she was unable to walk or talk. Margi spent the next four months in transitional rehabilitation at the MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute at Long Beach Memorial attending occupational, physical and speech therapy for six hours each week.

“I received exceptional care and therapy,” says Margi. “At this time my husband Larry was my full-time caregiver. He took care of 95 percent of my needs at home.”

This was not the first major medical scare in Margi’s health history. Just a few years prior, she suffered two heart attacks two years apart followed by a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke, blood clots and other heart-related conditions. In this case, a blood clot had formed in her heart and traveled to her brain causing her stroke.

A Successful Recovery, Thanks to a Great Support Team

The stroke left Margi struggling to do many day-to-day activities like getting in and out of bed, dressing herself, showering and eating. With the combination of occupational therapy, physical therapy and dedication, she has regained the ability to do all of those things.

Less than three years and countless hours of support and therapy later, Margi is considered 90 percent independent exceeding her care team’s expectations. Doctor’s anticipated a five year period to obtain her current level of mobility and speech.

“Thanks to the phenomenal care from therapists and doctor’s at the MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute, I have exceeded my reasonable intelligent goals for recovering in just 30 months.”

Margi attributes her successful recovery to her support team made up of family, friends and neighbors. With their help, Margi enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding and riding her three wheel bike as far as seven miles.

She walks at least five miles per week and continues to attend her weekly therapy sessions. She speaks and writes with minimal difficulty, volunteers at the MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute and attends various support groups in the Long Beach area, including the Brain Injury Support Group at Long Beach Memorial. With determination, hard work and focus Margi anticipates continued success on her road to recovery.

“My family cannot say enough about the world class medical and therapy team at Long Beach Memorial,” says Margi. “I will continue to keep a positive attitude, provide feedback to my team and strive to exceed expectations.”