Lorenzo Rodriguez followed every precaution during the pandemic. The 47-year-old tax specialist and youth baseball coach was able to work from home and he and his family always wore masks when they did have to go out into the community. Despite his efforts, Lorenzo developed a cough and began to have trouble breathing. Tests revealed he had COVID-19.
Advised to quarantine at home, Lorenzo moved to a separate room, isolated from his family. His wife MeLisa checked in on him regularly and about a week after his diagnosis, she found him incoherent. Lorenzo was rushed to Medical City Alliance and admitted to the ICU, where he spent two weeks fighting for his life in the ICU. Once he was stable, he still needed around-the-clock care and was transferred to LifeCare for another two weeks before being admitted to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Fort Worth.
Lorenzo arrived at BSWIR in an extremely weak state. He had lost nearly 50 pounds along with muscle mass, had limited endurance and was unable to stand, walk or perform basic tasks. Just sitting up in a chair caused his heart rate to skyrocket. He also still needed supplemental oxygen to breathe. However, he was determined to regain his strength and walk out of the hospital. To meet these goals, Lorenzo’s rehabilitation team tailored treatment to his needs. While his doctor and nurses managed his medical care, Lorenzo worked tirelessly with his physical and occupational therapists to improve his strength, muscle tone, stamina and activity tolerance. He was taught ways to conserve his energy and once he was able to stand, one step literally led to another. Before long Lorenzo was able to walk more than 100 feet with a walker, but this was just the first milestone on his road to recovery.
After 18 days of inpatient rehab he was reluctant to continue more therapy, but his mindset quickly changed once he started in our specialized outpatient Day Neuro Program. “I’m so glad I didn’t listen to myself and gave Baylor rehab a shot, because I have seen a total transformation in myself. On the very first day, I walked in and could feel the support and encouragement from everyone there. You look around, and all of the patients and therapists have smiles on their faces. They were kind, encouraging and you can tell everyone is here for a great reason,” he said.
Still requiring oxygen, Lorenzo, who had named his oxygen tank “Betty,” set his sights on breaking up with his companion and being able to breathe on his own. He also wanted to be able to walk independently and “get back to normal.” During his initial evaluation, the therapist asked him to do 20 “sit-to-stands” – stand up from a seated position 20 times in a row. Lorenzo recalled he was barely able to do 10. That’s when he realized how much work he had yet to do.
The turning point in his recovery was the day Lorenzo walked about 30 feet on his own down a hallway without stopping to rest or catch his breathe. His therapists continued to challenge him, motivating him and helping to build his confidence. They also worked to improve his lung capacity and wean him off oxygen. By the time of graduation, Lorenzo had left “Betty” behind, had increased his mobility and was able to safely perform self-care and other daily activities. It took him nearly three months of intensive Day Neuro therapy, but Lorenzo never gave up and neither did his therapists.
“I’ve progressed more than and better than I ever expected,” he said. “I have seen firsthand a transformation in myself. I’m so glad I came here for therapy; without this place, I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now.”
Lorenzo added, “I’m going to really miss coming here, but I’m happy because I know the fact that I’m graduating means I have succeeded. I really encourage everyone going through the therapy journey to trust the process. You will surprise yourself with the results that these therapists are able to achieve.”
Looking ahead, Lorenzo is focused on enjoying more time with his family, getting back to work and returning the field to “play ball!”