Miguel's Story

Photo of Miguel Perez Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation.

Stroke

Growing up in the close-knit community of Lampasas, Texas, Miguel Perez started a family with his wife, Becky, of 43 years. He supported his family by working in the construction industry while nurturing his passion for music. Miguel and Becky are also the proud parents of four amazing children. They now have 11 wonderful grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

At 57-years-old, Miguel’s health had always been a challenge for him. He began his healthcare journey over 40 years ago, stemming from a gunshot injury that led to a severe back injury. To make matters worse, he later slipped in the shower and the bullet dislodged, moving to the back of his heart. This early traumatic experience left him with two stints in his arteries and a four-day coma, during which he suffered a heart attack. Despite these overwhelming odds, Miguel survived.

Recently, he was struck with another debilitating diagnosis – a stroke. Taken to Seton Williamson hospital where he stabilized, Miguel had significant physical and cognitive deficits. His speech was impaired and his mobility was restricted. With his left leg and arm severely weakened, everyday tasks were out of reach.

On the advice from a previous occupational therapist, Miguel opted for Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) - Lakeway to regain his independence and restore the strength he had been missing. His physician-led stroke team of rehabilitation nurses and therapists began tailoring treatment to help him on the road to recovery.

One main goal was on Miguel’s mind: he wanted to dance with his wife at their 50th anniversary.

Indeed, before he could get back to dancing, his care plan required physical, occupational and speech therapy. Physical therapists introduced strength-training exercises that helped to fortify his left arm and body while increasing his endurance and activity tolerance. With the support of his care team, Miguel made it to his feet for standing exercises, which helped him increase his balance and bolster his strength. From there, he progressed to walking with a rolling walker.

“Learning to walk was not easy but I did it,” said Miguel. “Everyone believed in me.”

Occupational therapy focused on refining his fine motor skills and completing household tasks such as cleaning, laundry and cooking. Speech therapy would help Miguel regain control of his voice.

Miguel's recovery was marked by a solid commitment to his rehabilitation. "When I’m given homework and no one is around or looking, I worked on my homework," he recalled. “I looked down at my foot and for the first time, it was turned in and was straight. All because I did my homework.”

His family also played a pivotal role in his recovery. Miguel's family, especially his wife Becky, offered him loving support. Their prayers and presence were a constant source of strength.

He described his experience at BSWIR - Lakeway as nothing short of miraculous. "Everyone here is heaven sent,” he mentioned. “[There are] overwhelmingly nice nurses here. They are so smart and their smiles go a long way when I see them in the hallway.”

Throughout his journey, Miguel learned the importance of self-belief and the power of professional help.

“I learned I am my worst critic,” he said. “I learned I am the only one that sets my limits ... once somebody believes in me, even when they don’t know me, I know I can believe in myself.”
As he prepared to leave the hospital, Miguel looked forward to returning home to his family, where love, compassion and strength awaited him.

Miguel's story is a powerful reminder of the human spirit's resilience and determination needed in overcoming life's toughest challenges.

For those going through a similar situation, Miguel leaves this advice: “A stroke or heart attack doesn’t discriminate, and can happen to anyone at any time. It is important to accept help from professionals who know what they are doing."