Just days before her birthday, outgoing 60-year-old Gloria Lewis-Hollins had an unexpected fall as she prepared for bed.
"My husband helped me up and went and got my cane," she recalled. "I walked to the bedroom and went to bed, but when I woke up the next morning, I fell again." An ambulance rushed Gloria to John Peter Smith Hospital, where she received immediate medical attention.
Tests confirmed that Gloria had a stroke.
The stroke left Gloria's left arm and leg severely weakened. She was unable to walk or hold objects. Her memory faltered, and cognitive changes made simple activities overwhelming. To her dismay, she was in the hospital for two weeks, including on her birthday.
Once she was medically stable, her physicians recommended an intensive inpatient rehabilitation program to help her regain her mobility and independence. Gloria transferred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Fort Worth and its Day Neuro Program. When asked why she chose BSWIR – Fort Worth, Gloria recalled her niece's experience at the hospital, which left a lasting impression on her.
Upon arrival, her physician-led rehabilitation team worked with Gloria to put a treatment plan in place. Gloria set goals for herself—to regain balance, walk unaided and recover her memory. She shared that she longed to return to work, to the joy of driving a bus and reconnecting with people.
Through intensive physical and cognitive therapies, Gloria made solid progress. Her therapists guided her through challenging exercises, gradually rebuilding her strength and coordination. With every step forward, Gloria's confidence increased.
"I'm walking everywhere without any assistive device, my balance is great, my memory is getting a lot better," she exclaimed.
While each therapy session contributed to her recovery, one particular session stands out in Gloria's memory. She recalled, "There was a session with [my therapist] that he had me walking forward, backward and really challenging my balance. I was so sore, but that session is when I felt the most challenged and felt like I was really starting to make progress."
Gloria's family also played an integral role in her rehabilitation. "My kids came and stayed a couple of weeks with me and were really supportive and helpful," she recalled. "My husband stepped up and did everything. He played such a big role in my recovery. He's been working to pay the bills, cooking, taking care of me, supporting and encouraging me."
As Gloria's discharge neared, she was filled with hope. She anticipated returning to her routine and resuming work. She expressed her deep gratitude for her therapy team: "I had a good therapy team, and I would recommend everyone go here for their help."
Recovering from a stroke may be one of the greatest challenges a person will ever face, but Gloria triumphed. Gloria acknowledged she learned a lot about herself and left others with this advice: "I used to get mad when things were challenging or hard, but then I learned that it was helpful for me and I was seeing the benefit in it. I realized that the things that were challenging were not the therapists being mean but that they were making me better. Don't be hard-headed, do what they say because it's all to help you."