Lawrence Whiteside's life took an unexpected turn when he became a full-time caregiver for his younger brother with disabilities. Little did he know his brother would end up saving his life.
For about eight months, 60-year-old Lawrence Whiteside experienced what he thought was extreme vertigo, with bouts of dizziness coming and going. In reality, he was having mini-strokes. One day, while attempting to pick up a pen, Lawrence collapsed. His brother assisted him, but unfortunately, Lawrence collapsed again. Recognizing the symptoms as a stroke, Lawrence's brother promptly called 9-1-1.
At Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple, Lawrence underwent a series of diagnostic tests and received tissue plasminogen activator or tPA treatment, which is a treatment that dissolves blood clots that blocks blood flow to the brain. When administered within three hours of a stroke, tPA treatment proves highly effective. After a few days, Lawrence stabilized and was transferred to Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Lakeway to begin his recovery.
Upon starting inpatient rehabilitation, Lawrence was still experiencing partial paralysis on his left side, affecting his ability to walk and care for himself. His speech was slurred, and he would become fatigued while trying to communicate. Lawrence's primary goal was to recover fully so that he could resume caring for his brother. To achieve this, he needed to regain the ability to walk, regain function in his right hand and improve his speech.
During physical therapy, Lawrence focused extensively on improving his balance, strength and endurance. With his original goal to be able to walk again, he needed to retrain his brain to walk with a proper cadence. The implementation of functional electrical stimulation, a low level electrical impulse that helps blood flow and strengthen the muscle, was utilized to help reactivate his muscle memory. He recalled, “Within days, my foot started to move… My left leg would kick and my sensation was coming back in my left arm and left side of my face.”
Lawrence expressed his appreciation for the care and support he received from the therapists. He mentioned that they ensured not to overwork him and started with the basics, helping him gain confidence and gradually progress toward his goals. Lawrence remarked on the significance of listening to the therapists and taking the necessary time – as it ultimately paid off.
After more than two weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, Lawrence achieved the milestone of walking unassisted out of the hospital. What initially seemed overwhelming turned into hope as he committed himself to the program and trusted his therapists. He now eagerly looks forward to resuming his caregiving role for his brother.