COVID-19 | Stroke
Joe Rush has seen his fair share of medical emergencies working as a trauma nurse at Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC). Prior to becoming a nurse, Joe was a linebacker at Jackson State, so he also knows how to take a hit. However, nothing could have prepared him for the health hit he was about to take.
Joe had been working in the ER on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, but managed to stay healthy until a short trip to help some family members. Upon his return, he wasn’t feeling well and eventually tested positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalized over the weekend and was release after just a couple days and out of abundance of caution, he quarantined himself so he wouldn’t pass the virus to anyone else. He thought he was in the clear.
A couple days later, Joe noticed some strange pain in his shoulder and a feeling of being off balance. When his speech became slurred, he knew these were neuro changes and he knew he was having a stroke. Joe called 911 and was rushed back to the hospital. In total, Joe had suffered two strokes – one on his left side and one in the cerebellum. Following his stroke, he also had a deep vein thrombosis and two pulmonary embolisms, which are types of blood clots.
Joe was transferred back to the hospital where he works, BUMC, to recover. When doctor’s cleared him for rehab, he chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Fort Worth (BSWIR – Fort Worth) because he wanted to stay in the Baylor continuum.
When he arrived at BSWIR – Fort Worth, Joe had left side weakness in his arm and leg, poor coordination, slurred speech, double vision and balance issues that were preventing him from walking. His main goal was to get back to work and get back to treating his patients. Speech therapy was a major focus of his recovery as Joe was really struggling with speaking after his stroke. Through intensive speech therapy sessions, Joe was able to get his voice back. On top of that, neuro vision therapy helped him sharpen up his sight, “My friends tell me it’s like day and night talking to me now versus a couple months ago. My strength and coordination has gotten much better. No double vision anymore,” Joe recalled.
Physical and occupational therapy worked extensively on improving endurance and coordination in his affected side. This helped him regain his balance, his ability to walk safely, and gave him the confidence that he will one day be back with his patients doing what he loves.
Joe is used to treating patients, not being one. So he drew from his experience and put his trust in his medical team, giving them 100%, and the results followed. “They challenged me and pushed me so much from day one. My progress was continuous and constant each and every day. Being in an environment with so many other people that have been in similar circumstances also really helps. It pushed you to be better and always push to be the best you can,” Joe stated.
Joe is looking forward to continuing the process of getting stronger, improving physically and spiritually to be a better version of himself. He even refers to this whole medical journey as just a small setback for an even bigger comeback.