Born and raised in New York, 54-year-old Beth Widmann, experienced an unexpected journey when she went to a routine doctor’s visit.
Beth's struggle began a few years prior when she started to have trouble swallowing, had tremors in her right arm and had vision changes. It wasn’t until a routine physical a few years later that a CT scan detected the shadowy presence of a golf ball-sized tumor on her brainstem, known as a meningioma. The tumor's compression wreaked havoc on her throat, causing swallowing difficulties. Determined to reclaim her health, Beth underwent a grueling craniotomy, removing 99% of the tumor. However, a subsequent staph infection necessitated a second surgery, leaving her overwhelmed and in need of specialized care.
With her world turned upside down, Beth transferred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Fort Worth’s Day Neuro Program on a mission to regain her independence. The Day Neuro Program is a daily program that understands the intricate complexities of brain-related conditions. Her journey toward recovery began with a tailored therapy program developed by her physician-led care team.
Initially, Beth faced numerous challenges—vision and depth perception issues compromised her walking, her muscles had atrophied from being hospitalized, she was confined to a walker and her speech was slurred due to facial nerve damage. Activities as basic as bathing and dressing became hurdles. Her husband had to help her, as she was unable to do chores and was on a feeding tube, only eating pureed foods.
Beth's goals were straightforward: regain her pre-surgery abilities, become self-sufficient, drive, and return to work. BSWIR - Fort Worth Day Neuro's therapists guided her physical and emotional well-being.
Beth was determined to get better. In physical therapy, she rebuilt muscle in her legs and core by doing exercises such as squats and dual-tasking. Through vestibular training, integrating innovative techniques, such as treadmill walks and the company of Grayson, a facility dog, Beth regained her balance and confidence.
In speech therapy, neuromuscular re-education and electrical stimulation contributed to strengthening her facial muscles, enhancing speech clarity and restoring the ability to swallow without impediment. Occupational therapy focused on peripheral vision exercises, refining her scanning skills and coordination, rekindling her hope.
Throughout her rehabilitation, Beth praised the therapists for their expertise. “I am glad I am in a place where people understand what’s going on,” she said. “The therapists know exactly what is going on with conditions impacting the brain.”
Her family served as an essential support system. Her husband stood as her rock, offering constant encouragement and care. Family and friends rallied around her, providing assistance, solace and nourishment, while her two children became pillars of strength.
As Beth prepared to leave the BSWIR – Fort Worth Day Neuro Program, she eagerly anticipated a return to a routine where she would once again have self-sufficiency and independence.
Reflecting on her experience, Beth commended the comprehensive rehabilitation program at BSWIR - Fort Worth, emphasizing the specialized therapists' expertise in brain injuries. She recalled, “It’s been amazing…I am so glad this Day Neuro program is here. It’s been easier on my family and less taxing to do all of my therapy and get everything I need. The therapists know exactly what they are doing and specialize in brain injuries.”
To anyone going through a similar situation or injury, Beth leaves this advice: “You are stronger than you think you are. Take things one day at a time. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t do something because, within some time, you will be able to do it if you put your mind to it. Listen to your therapists and do what they ask you to do. You can do anything for a short amount of time and in the long run, it will be worth it.”