Joe Stinson is a man of faith and an avid outdoorsman. When he’s not out hunting and fishing in his free time, he helps lead an off-road fellowship group. He also volunteers as a lighting technician at church on Sundays. At 63-years-old, Joe has worked for a major U.S. bank his entire career, and recently celebrated 45 years of service. Along the way, he turned his finance expertise into yet another hobby – racing. Joe is part owner of a NASCAR Pro Truck team based in Denver.
On a drive back from a race weekend in Colorado, Joe noticed a strange rash on his face and head. After visiting his doctor, the initial prognosis was a potential case of contact dermatitis. Joe thought it was a rash from wearing his facemask as a COVID-19 safety precaution. He was given a prescription for a six-day steroid regimen, but things got worse. The rash persisted and widespread muscle weakness began to set in. After his bloodwork results came back, the diagnosis became clear. Joe had dermatomyositis – a rare disease that causes muscle damage. He was immediately sent to the ER.
At Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth, Joe was diagnosed with a secondary condition of rhabdomyolysis, which is a rapid breakdown of muscle tissue that releases protein into the blood stream. This, in turn, can damage the kidneys. The protein is measured as a CK Level and Joe’s was at 9,000. A normal level is around 100 – 300. To combat this, Joe was put on fluids to help flush and protect his kidneys.
It took two trips to the hospital to get Joe’s CK Levels under control, but he had suffered a lot of muscle damage and was experiencing profound weakness, extreme pain and an inability to walk or even lift his arms to feed himself. Joe had been a life-long Baylor Scott & White patient. His mother had previously worked at All Saints Medical Center, the very hospital where he initially was treated, and when it came time to begin his recovery he chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Fort Worth.
When Joe arrived, he described his current state as a ‘total loss of independence.’ He knew he had an uphill battle. Joe needed to relearn everything, and it took an entire team of rehabilitation specialists to help him reach his goals.
Joe’s physical therapists helped rebuild his muscle strength and endurance. In occupational therapy, Joe worked on adapting self-care tasks to regain independence in caring for himself while speech therapy focused on speech and swallowing since the muscle that controlled both were also impacted. Recreation therapy was also a special component in Joe’s healing process. He really enjoyed the activities which gave him a mental break from the challenges he was facing, and sharing the commonality with others who were also on a road to recovery helped.
At first, Joe struggled emotionally with not being able to care for himself, but recalled that nobody ever made him felt undignified that he couldn’t do it, only support. He would call on his faith through this challenging time and take comfort knowing that God had chosen people in these roles for a reason.
Joe’s turning point came when he was able to see his progress in action -- the first time he was able to feed himself, and the first time he was able to dress himself. These milestones motivated Joe to keep progressing and that is exactly what he did. At discharge, Joe was eating on his own, his speech was back to normal and he was nearly back to being fully independent.
Joe looked forward to building on his goals of independence with home health services and enjoying some much needed family time. He also has plans to get back to the things he loves like working with his church and enjoying the great outdoors.
“I can’t imagine it being any better. Everybody worked together to make sure that I had the resources available to get where I am now. Being here, you can see how comprehensive everything is and how every aspect of your care from nutrition to therapy to nursing is important. From therapy, nurses, doctors, to assistants, everybody was not only exceptional in their care, but were so kind. It created a great experience.”