I'm Very Blessed
Gerald Rozenboom and his wife were having a nice evening enjoying a gospel music performance when they found themselves heading to the emergency department at Pella Regional Health Center.
Gerald had wanted to leave the show early because he wasn't feeling well. Soon after, he started to lose the feeling in his side. His wife, Geneva, took him to the emergency department immediately with a feeling that her husband was having a stroke. "I was terrified. I shook the whole way to the hospital," Geneva remembers.
"They gave me a clot-buster medicine there in Pella and transferred me to Iowa City," said Gerald. "The doctor in Iowa City told my family that if I made it through the night I had a chance."
Gerald spent time recovering in Des Moines, then in skilled care at Pella Regional. In fact, he spent a total of 13 weeks in hospitals before going home. Then he continued with home care and then outpatient therapy. "I think it was about a year of therapies before it was all said and done," said Geneva.
Along with physical and occupational therapy, Gerald also worked with Tara Leidigh, speech therapist at Pella Regional. In speech therapy he worked on his cognitive skills and left-side neglect.
Left-side neglect is a common effect of stroke. It can be described as a lack of awareness of that side, leading stroke survivors to ignore or forget about people or objects that are on their left sides.
Specific exercises and alterations to the patient's environment are practiced in speech therapy, such as finding an article in the newspaper that is on the left hand side. "I learned to work around it and know that when something is on the left I have to be much more aware. When I'm driving and get to a stop sign I look two times to be sure," said Gerald.
"My problem wasn't that I couldn't speak. I could speak plainly," said Gerald. "I'd always been a whiz with arithmetic and I couldn't do that anymore. I couldn't make change anymore; simple things like that. By the end of speech therapy, it got to the point where I was getting as good as Tara," Gerald laughs.
"Looking back, the experience was good. It's hard work. But Tara helped me a ton. First at home, then when I went into the hospital. The therapists, all of them, they never had a crabby day," said Gerald. "They'd get bossy with me at times, but I needed it. I got to be friends with all of these people. I appreciate that. They are all terrific people," said Gerald.
Gerald also attributes his ongoing health to the monthly stroke support group at Pella Regional. "I go to the stroke support group now. I don't miss it if I don't have to. We share with each other and support each other with issues we are dealing with," said Gerald. "I've learned that a stroke is a stroke and it affects everyone in some way. It doesn't really matter what it looks like on the surface."
"Disappointments and blessings is what came from all of this," said Gerald. "If I hadn't had a stroke I'd never have known what it was like to lay in bed and not do anything. But there are good things too. I never had fewer than four people visit me in one day the whole 13 weeks I was in the hospital. My friends, my family was very supportive, and my church family was awesome. I am very blessed. I have a story to tell and I can hardly believe it myself. As far as I'm concerned, it's everyone's prayers for me that did it."
Learn more about Speech Therapy at Pella Regional.