Normal Walk Turns Into Life-Altering Event

August 2 2021
Patient, Trice, with her physical therapist

In April 2020, Trice and her husband, John, were on their usual walk when Trice began noticing she was having trouble breathing. This was unusual, since Trice had been in great health. When they got home, John and Trice consulted with their primary care doctor. For the next few days, John monitored Trice’s temperature and watched for any other symptoms to arise. Trice continued to experience trouble breathing, shortness of breath and fatigue. One morning John took Trice’s temperature and she had developed a fever. Within hours, Trice collapsed on the floor and was incoherent.

Trice was transported to St. Anthony North where they diagnosed blood clots to her brain which caused a stroke. The stroke had completely disabled her left side including her leg, arm and hand. Trice was unable to talk for 24 hours, was able to say “yes” and “no” the next day and began slowly speaking thereafter. John was unable to be with Trice in the facility, due to COVID-19 restrictions, but doctors and nurses were communicating with him over the phone as well as in the parking lot in person.

Change of scene

Trice’s caregivers decided Trice needed a higher level of care and transported Trice to St. Anthony Hospital to continue her treatment. At St. Anthony Hospital she was immediately put on a ventilator. The doctors and nurses went above and beyond to keep John up to date on Trice’s condition. They called multiple times a day and sent video updates. Trice was on the ventilator for two weeks.

Stepping into Rehabilitation

When she was able, Trice participated in physical, occupational and speech therapy. The therapists kept John very involved throughout the rehabilitation. “Every therapist was very, very helpful. They were all excellent at building a relationship with Trice. Our experience was wonderful. Especially Amanda, she was very helpful and caring. She was able to teach me things that I needed to know in order to work with Trice on after she was discharged from the hospital,” John said. By the time Trice left St. Anthony Hospital’s rehabilitation facility, she was able to walk down the hallway with a cane.

Making strides

Amanda Schenk, PT, DPT, NCS, shared, "I had the pleasure of being Trice's (Patrice) primary physical therapist while she was on the inpatient rehab unit. When she was initially admitted, she had a lot of difficulty moving her body without the help of two people and verbally expressing her needs. We quickly figured out a way to communicate with gestures and facial expressions which brought an occasional sweet smile to Trice's face. We celebrated a lot of huge milestones during her weeks on IRF including progressing from total assistance of two people to get out of bed to taking steps for the first time in the parallel bars to walking with a quad cane at discharge. Despite her significant weakness in her affected lower extremity, she always pushed herself to stand and walk as much as possible. John was a huge part of her recovery and was by her side every single day. We even celebrated his birthday while Trice was in the hospital. He made sure the home was completely prepared for her (including building their own parallel bars to use at home) and that she had all the equipment/love/support she needed. They have impacted my life greatly and I will always remember the laughs, tears, discouragement, accomplishments, and happiness we shared. We were blessed to be a part of Trice's rehab journey."

Trice continues to participate in physical therapy once a week. In June 2021, she was finally able to walk without a cane around her block. This is a huge accomplishment. At home she is using electro-feedback stimulation therapy to help stimulate her left arm and hand in order to gain full use again. When asked about her overall experience at St. Anthony Hospital, Trice became emotional, “I was very pleased with my experience. When you’re sick, you’re just overwhelmed.” John added, “The care overall was exceptional. The nurses were very caring and responded quickly to any of our needs. All of Trice’s nurses, doctors and especially her therapists were very patient. She showed tremendous progress in physical, occupational and speech therapy while she was there and for that we were so grateful.”

Learn more about St. Anthony Hospital’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility.