It was Black Friday and Michelle Young, a 51-year-old dental hygienist, had seized the day. “I went shopping with my boys, mowed the yard, put up all the Thanksgiving decorations, hung the Christmas lights on the house and ended the day at the movies with [my] son,” she recalled. Michelle enjoyed spending time with her four active boys, camping, hiking and traveling with her family. She also maintained a busy volunteer schedule. For Michelle, November 26th was another day on the go.
However, on that very day, Michelle's life took an unexpected turn. Michelle had a stroke.
“I was finally getting to bed, the house was quiet, I began to feel that something was wrong.” Although she felt no pain, Michelle realized that she couldn’t go to sleep with this feeling of unease. Waking her husband, she told him she wasn’t feeling well. Two hours later, a change in her right arm was enough to prompt a trip to Ascension Seton Medical Center in Austin.
She told the ER staff that she was experiencing arm weakness. She was immediately put in a wheelchair and doctors began their assessment. “I had about three to four medical professionals working on me simultaneously within minutes,” she said. Doctors discovered that Michelle’s blood pressure and glucose levels were too high. They began drawing blood and evaluating Michelle's use of her arms, legs and eyes while they prepped her for an MRI.
Michelle's neurologist delivered the news: she had suffered a small stroke and torn a vertebral artery. Stunned, trying to come to terms with her diagnosis, Michelle realized that she was losing control of her right leg. "It felt as though it was cement … I could not lift it off the bed,” she recalled. Her right arm, she realized, was also outside of her control. Michelle escaped the cognitive, vision and speech issues that so often accompany a stroke, but she could not walk or use her right arm.
Over the course of 13 days, Michelle underwent intensive inpatient rehabilitation, relearning how to walk, regain balance, and accomplish everyday tasks such as holding utensils. Eager to continue her recovery, she chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Lakeway's Day Neuro Program.
“I had heard from several healthcare professionals about this awesome facility at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation,” Michelle said, “I chose Day Neuro because it had excellent reviews, I trusted BSWIR and my job is so precise it was critical that I [have] the best professionals helping me to recover physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Her “rehab family” developed an individualized rehabilitation and care plan that would help her achieve her goals. "My goals were simple," she said, "I wanted to return to my life as quickly as possible. I needed to return to work, drive my son to school and take care of my family. If you haven't noticed, I am very determined."
That determination started Michelle down the path to renewed independence. She focused on physical therapy to strengthen her body and improve her balance. With occupational therapy, she refined her fine motor skills and worked on her activities of daily living, such as cooking and brushing her teeth. "I loved anything that challenged me," she said.
Michelle's family supported and encouraged her throughout her rehabilitation. They kept her focused on her goals by participating in exercises with her, driving her to therapy and participating in her everyday care. "My kids were my inspiration and would always ask me what they could do at home to help me exercise," she recalled.
Her hard work and the support of her family and therapists began to show as Michelle reached a major milestone. "I still remember the day that my arms started swinging while I walk. This is something most of us do not even realize is normal, but for me, once that happened, I knew I was turning a corner," she said.
A testament to tenacity, Michelle pledged to continue her team’s exercise program at home as she returned to work full-time. “My experience at Day Neuro was wonderful,” Michelle said, "My rehab team has been amazing. I have been treated with respect, challenged, encouraged and celebrated. It was clearly the best decision.”