“I thought my girlfriends and I were doing the right thing, everything was outside - from horseback riding, to fishing, and swimming,” recalls Pennye LeFlore after returning from vacation during the pandemic.
Not long after her trip, the 61-year-old began to experience what she thought was a typical upper respiratory infection. She went to an urgent care center, was tested for COVID-19 and told to go directly to the ER if symptoms worsened.
Five days later, her sons found her blue and unable to move. They rushed her to Dallas Regional Hospital, and the prognosis wasn’t good. Initially, doctors didn’t think she would make it through the night. She was given supplemental oxygen and placed into the intensive care unit.
Pennye ended up beating those odds, but she wasn’t out of the woods yet. She remained in the ICU at Dallas Regional Hospital for several days. When finally stabilized, she was transferred to Select Specialty Hospital – Dallas for extended healing and recovery.
At first, all Pennye focused on were the things she couldn’t do.
“I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t hold on to anything, and it was hard to do the basic things like going to the bathroom or even eating. I couldn’t remember what I was going to say.”
As her care team at Select Specialty Hospital eased her into more therapy, ‘I can’t’ turned into ‘I can.’ Pennye began to see results, stating “Select Specialty Hospital was great, they got me moving.”
When Pennye was cleared by her doctors to continue her recovery at an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, she immediately began researching and chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Dallas (BSWIR-Dallas).
For Pennye, beginning intense rehabilitation was a major turning point. Not a lot of time had passed since Pennye’s family was told she wouldn’t make it through the night, but now she could see a light at the end of the tunnel. With a new lease on life and the motivation to get home to hold her newborn grandchild, Pennye began to kick her rehabilitation into high gear – often doing extra therapy exercises in her free time.
She went from barely being able to walk to walking upwards of 200 feet through physical therapy recondition sessions. Meanwhile her occupational therapists worked with Pennye to regain independence to dress, bathe and use the bathroom. She recalls, “Getting my first shower felt so good, it about killed me, you don’t realize what it takes to bathe yourself.”
“I would recommend this place to anyone. People would be doing a disservice to themselves by not coming here.”
Through her rehabilitation and reconditioning program at BSWIR-Dallas, Pennye was able to get back to her normal life after battling back from the virus, but she has a clear message to others, “Don’t give up, keep fighting. Take this seriously because COVID-19 is serious. If anyone doesn’t think this is real, let me talk to them.”