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Home mySSlife Health I AM JUST LIKE YOU: Memorial Hospital’s CARE unit can help people rehabilitate from the most debilitating conditions

I AM JUST LIKE YOU: Memorial Hospital’s CARE unit can help people rehabilitate from the most debilitating conditions

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I guess my life was pretty normal. I was born in 1942, when The War was consuming everything. My dad was a builder, and instead of entering the military, he was sent south to build ships. My mother, like most in that day, stayed home to raise two boys and work to help support the family. My family has been living in the Sulphur Springs area for three generations and Mom worked for J.C Penny Company to help keep us afloat. Most of my childhood was uneventful — we went to school, played sports, worked a little and created much of our own fun.

SEE? I AM JUST LIKE YOU


I started college in 1960 and thought I knew more than the professors and ended up quitting. I went to work in Sulphur Springs at a plant now called Flowserve in 1961 and began to date the woman who would soon become my spouse. I felt a calling to serve my country and entered the National Guard in 1964, went to Officer School and became a second lieutenant. By this time I was married and we had one daughter.
SEE? I AM JUST LIKE YOU


Life was relatively calm, I stayed with the same employer for 25 years, and went to work for a Western Outfitters company. I left the National Guard as a Captain, our daughter married and gave us 2 beautiful grandchildren. Life was good!
SEE? I AM JUST LIKE YOU


Then in January of 2008, I woke up with what I thought was a “crick” in my neck, but didn’t think any more about it. During the week, however, it didn’t go away, and my blood sugars were going crazy and I couldn’t keep them within range. Went to my doctor and he sent me to the Hospital in Sulphur Springs to see Dr. Balkcom. All along I thought it was my diabetes that was the issue, then I began to lose feeling in my right side, at first, we thought it might be a small stroke. An MRI told something entirely different.
I AM GETTING TO BE NOT LIKE YOU


The MRI showed a huge pus infection in my neck vertebrae and spinal cord. I was immediately transferred to Tyler and a neurosurgery team met the Air Ambulance and was taken into surgery. The surgeon was not very optimistic — my chances of survival were 1 in 5, an the and the odds I was going to permanently disabled even greater. Surgery was 10 hours long,.When I woke up, my entire right side was completely paralyzed.
NOW, I AM NOT JUST LIKE YOU


After three days of lying in bed, the rehabilitation doctor from East TExas Medical Center came and talked to me, and I told him that Sulphur Springs had a rehab program and I had heard good things about it and wanted to go there. He told me he would talk to the unit and see if they could provide the level of care I would need. The next thing he knew was This GIANT of a MAN showed up at his ICY room and introduced himself as the director of the rehab unit in Sulphur Springs. We talked for what seemed like hours and I told him I was going to walk again and could he do that. I remember that conversation, and it went like this, “I don’t do miracles, but if one is to occur and it is in the plan, our team can make it happen." I began to feel that my life was coming back. Little did I know what was fixing to happen.
I AM NOT JUST LIKE YOU


I arrived at the CARE Unit the next day, bare able to move, sit on the side of the bed, walk, go to the bathroom, dress myself, bathe or comb my hair. For the first time, I began to see all I could not do; however, no one let me dwell on that and within an hour of arrival, I was introduced to the front-end-loader(the HOYER), and had a shower, the first in 7 days. It took three people to do it, but it felt great.
I AM GOING TO BE JUST LIKE YOU


The first 2 weeks were an absolute blur, between Ala, Jackie, Mary, Nate, Steve, and others I never had a chance to feel sorry for myself. All were unbelievably uplifting and positive. Soon I was learning to do things again; I found out that the left side of my body could do all the things my right side could, albeit somewhat slower and less coordinated. About this time, I began to have sensation in my lower body. The foley was pulled and accidents occurred, but I began to sense a change for the better was around the corner.
I AM GOING TO BE JUST LIKE YOU


I graduated from the HOYER to the SARA and another great hurdle was met. I could take a shower with Steve and not fall all over him — progress! With the SARA I had instant movement, no more sling, just help me stand and get me to the bathroom, life was getting better. About this time (three weeks into the program), Mary told me it was time to try taking steps in the hallway. I heard Walt, Doc, and Ala come to the hallway. All arrived and it was showtime, Mary and Nate had the rights side and I was holding the rail with a death grip, the mirror was in front and Mary said, “Stand,” and I did. With their help and all the team's support, I took my first steps in over a month, They said I took re steps, I can’t remember, but it was the hardest thing I ever did. Life was good. They all clapped and we had a party.
I AM GOING TO BE JUST LIKE YOU


The SARA is gone; the W/C is my preferred means of long distance travel. I can shower alone and not fall over. I can go to the bathroom alone, accidents are no more. I can walk with a walker in a straight line. The infection is gone. I can dress myself, slip on shoes and hold my wife. Life is good. I am leaving the CARE unit after 35 days, lots of tears, lots of sweat, and with the help of a compassionate, competent, class team
I AM JUST LIKE YOU

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Follow-up:
Bill Hodge was discharged from the CARE Unit on 03/11/2008 at a “Moderately Independent level of functioning in all areas. He has the determination of an athlete and the compassion of a saint. Today  he is driving his car and walking with a cane. One weekend about two months ago he and his 10-year-old grandson won first place in a cook-off in Mount Vernon in support of the local food bank. They cooked a Dutch oven Cobbler. They won $50, and his grandson turned around and gave it back to the food bank.
You see he is JUST LIKE YOU
— Walt Blanchard

 

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