Bronson got me back to living and showed me that I still have a life that’s worth living.

Michelle Smith, Patient

It was a regular day at work when I lost vision in my left eye all of a sudden. I knew something wasn’t right and I immediately thought that I was having a stroke. My coworker drove me to Bronson’s emergency department. I walked in and told them what I thought was happening. That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up in the neurocritical care unit. I really don’t even remember much about my month-long stay in the hospital. I kept thinking that I would just go back to work soon. I didn’t realize that the survival rate a with hemorrhagic stroke isn’t very high.

Bronson not only made sure that I survived the stroke, but they helped me go through all of the rehab so I could get back to living. They didn’t know if I’d be able to talk, walk or drive again, but now I am doing all three. I keep a picture of myself from when I was in the intensive care unit. I had a trach and breathing tube and they had to cut my hair, of course. I keep that picture of me on my refrigerator  so every time I get frustrated I can remind myself where I was vs. where I am now. I went from not being able to walk at all and being in a wheelchair, to using a walker, to now just using a cane. That’s just one of my little success stories and I owe it all to Bronson.

As I started to heal, before any of my success stories happened, I wasn’t very positive. I complained to my therapists and to Bojan Hrpka, DO, my primary care doctor. My life had changed so dramatically after the stroke and I was frustrated that I’d never get my old life back. I told him Dr. Hrpka that I sometimes wished I hadn’t survived the stroke. He said that I was depressed and I told him, “no, I’m not.” After I thought about it, I realized that maybe I was depressed. He suggested I start going to the Stroke Survivor Support Group. The first time I walked, I looked around the room and thought, “oh it’s all older people and they all know each other; I don’t fit in and I’m not going back again.” Dr. Hrpka asked me to please go back and try it again. I went back and I haven’t missed one since. It’s been over a year. I don’t have my work peeps anymore but I have stroke peeps. I have these people that have been through a stroke and they understand what I’ve been through. Jamie Warner, the stroke nurse navigator, brings in speakers all the time and I’ve learned so much.

There are so many people at Bronson Neuroscience Center and Bronson Methodist Hospital that I owe my success to: nurse practitioners Anita Buitenwerf, NP, and Julie Schafer, NP, and doctors Joseph Wheeler, PhD, and Melissa Radawski, MD. I also can’t say enough good things about my rehabilitation. I have the best physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists at Bronson Rehabilitation Services (located inside Bronson Athletic Club). As part of my recovery, I also worked with my ear, nose and throat doctor, Cecilia Prophit-Graves, MD.

My goal now is to keep going to Bronson Athletic Club to get in shape and stay in shape.

Bronson got me back to living and showed me that I still have a life that’s worth living. Thank you, Bronson!

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