Tami Gonzalez, a 58-year-old retired schoolteacher, never anticipated that a routine trip to the movies with her daughter would mark the beginning of a life-altering journey. On that eventful day, Tami's world changed when she suffered an ischemic stroke in the pons region (a lower section in the brainstem) of her brain.
Admitted to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, Tami was immediately sent to the ICU. Tami spent five days there and was transferred Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation (BSWIR) – Lakeway for an additional nine days. Tami faced numerous challenges because of her stroke. Her entire left side was weakened, rendering her unable to walk safely or use her left arm.
Under the care of the hospital's dedicated team of therapists, Tami embarked on her rehabilitation journey at the BSWIR – Lakeway Day Neuro Program. She recalled, “I basically lost use of my left arm and left leg. I was unable to walk safely and spent time in a wheelchair. My speech was slightly affected, especially if I spoke for a long time.”
A physician-led team of nurses, therapists and aides created a plan that focused on achieving Tami’s primary goal of embracing her loved ones. Despite the difficulties she faced, Tami persevered through therapies that included stretching, muscle manipulation and the use of various techniques.
“Electrical stimulation is where I saw my first movement, but I would say the stretching and manipulation of muscles was the most beneficial for me,” she said. Her therapists ensured she understood the purpose behind each exercise, empowering her with knowledge and motivation. “I love how [my therapists] used multiple therapies to work with me. They always took the time to explain the reasoning for doing each thing,” she recalled.
In the midst of her rehabilitation, a pivotal moment came when Tami could finally embrace her daughter with both arms. The overwhelming surge of emotions left them in tears.
Indeed, Tami's family played an integral role in her recovery, providing emotional support every step of the way. Their encouragement and assistance allowed Tami to focus on her rehabilitation without worrying about her daughter's well-being. Additionally, the outpouring of support from her community of friends, who helped with daily tasks and provided much-needed meals, further bolstered her spirits.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important family support in recovery is… Listening, encouraging and supporting the survivors’ journey,” she remarked. “I am blessed with an amazing community of friends!”
As Tami neared the end of her time in the Day Neuro Program, she reflected on the life-changing experience she had at Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation - Lakeway. The exceptional care provided by her therapists was a source of inspiration. Through their guidance and positivity, Tami expressed how she found joy in exercising and witnessed significant improvements in her strength, coordination and overall well-being.
Reflecting on her remarkable transformation, Tami emphasizes the significance of hard work, positivity and self-belief: “My four months at Day Neuro have been such a blessing. The program is really special in my opinion. The thing though is that a program is only as great as its therapists [are] and that is what BSWIR – Lakeway Day Neuro has. The best therapists! They are great and she can make exercising fun! They are always upbeat and positive. I gave [them] a hard time my first day but they set me straight and have kept me focused the whole way through.”
Tami was determined to carry these lessons with her as she tackled future challenges. For others in a similar situation, Tami leaves this advice: “Work as hard as you can, and then work harder! Never doubt yourself, stay positive. It will amaze you what positivity will do for you. I know that this is really just the first phase of my recovery. I have many more ‘mountains’ to climb and I am looking forward to it.”
Tami anticipated continuing her rehabilitation journey at an outpatient facility in the area.
“I will consider these therapists my warrior coaches forever. They have both taught me so much not just about therapy, but life, living and caring!”