Updated: Aug 29, 2020
One year ago today, on July 9, 2019, I had a small "see ya later" party with the rehabilitation team at Western Massachusetts Hospital. Before my scheduled departure for MassGeneral on July 12, 2019, we took these photographs to commemorate my time and remarkable recovery + progress that I made while at Western Mass. This is a place where I experienced many milestones in my recovery, so I hold the people and location close to my heart.
Some of my achievements while at Western Mass included:
Making my first vowel sounds.
Progression of speech and language pathology.
Had my feeding tube removed.
Moved from a purée diet, to ground food, to chopped food, to a minimally restricted diet, and finally, no diet restrictions.
Similar to my food progression, my liquid intake went from thick to normal.
Learned how to drive a power wheelchair - turtle speed only!
Began to make my first facial and body movements.
Before I got to Western Mass, I was at Spaulding Rehabilitation in Charlestown, MA, which gave me a terrific foundation to begin my recovery. Moving to Western Mass with such a great foundation was crucial and helped me to break through. I enjoyed the way they scheduled therapies, and how they combined speech, physical, and occupational therapies.
The people who worked at Western Mass were so caring and helpful - from the kitchen staff, to medical personnel, recreational therapists, nurses, CNA's, rehab, psychologists, to transportation - everyone was rooting for my progress, going above and beyond for me and being my support system.
All patients at Western Mass get a special birthday meal. Even though I was on a chopped diet, they prepared me a feast of garlic whipped potatoes, filet mignon, and fresh asparagus. And my usual serving of antioxidant rich blueberries, which they brought me three times per day.
Some of my first writing after being "unlocked" was done by non-verbal communication through the Megabee with the help of a recreational therapist. They granted me about 30 minutes a day to work on this writing because I clearly have so much to say.
physical therapist, physical therapist aide, me, occupational therapist, occupational therapist aide, speech pathologist and rehabilitation dept. director (left to right)
When I originally arrived at Western Mass, I was virtually locked in, quadriplegic, and pretty depressed thinking I would be non-verbal and quadriplegic forever. However, I managed to maintain hope that I would make my way back to health with the assistance of these amazing people and facilities.
Through the exceptional care and commitment from the rehabilitation team and everyone at Western Mass, I was able to make amazing strides in my recovery. I want the staff at Western Mass to know this.
Thank you Western Mass Hospital and staff! It's a privilege that you all came into my life. I am eternally grateful. Love you all and hope you enjoy looking back on these pictures from 1 year ago!