Carl P.

Carl P.

“Do not listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. My husband was in a coma and now we are sitting here together and I see he gets stronger every day. It might by only be a grain of sand each day, but it adds up”

Carl’s journey began on Valentine’s Day 2019. The semi-retired wood worker from Vandling was taking a shower when he suddenly collapsed. When he arrived at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton, he was quickly diagnosed as having a stroke. More accurately, he had suffered a cerebral venous sinus thrombosis.

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain’s venous sinuses. This prevents blood from draining out of the brain. As a result, blood cells may break and leak blood into the brain tissues, forming a hemorrhage.

A surgical drain was placed and so began the Carl’s journey in life after stroke.

He was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Geisinger Wyoming Valley, where he remained in a coma for almost 3 weeks. Life was now run by breathing machines, feeding tubes, and catheters. Soon after his ICU stay, he would be transferred to another area hospital, and then to a nursing home - before finally arriving at Allied Services Rehab Hospital in Scranton in July 2019. Nearly 5 months after his stroke.

By this time, Carl was off the ventilator and working towards being well enough to remove the catheter and feeding tube. There were definitely set-backs along the way, but with his wife, Felicia, who was always by his side, was determined there was more for her husband than tubes and wheelchairs.

“Do not listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. My husband was in a coma and now we are sitting here together and I see he gets stronger every day. It might by only be a grain of sand each day, but it adds up” said Felicia.

While at Allied Services Rehab Hospital, Carl was introduced to a stroke rehab team. A dedicated team of experienced professionals made up of medical professionals such as physical, occupational, respiratory and speech therapists, rehabilitation nurses, dietitians, and physiatrists all working together and creating a plan based on his individual needs. Carl received intense physical rehabilitation for 3 weeks before being discharged. At home, he continued his journey with the help of his wife, Allied Services Home Health and the team at Allied Services Carbondale Rehab Center.

“We go to therapy 4 days a week,” said Felicia. ”Speech, physical and occupational (therapy) all in Carbondale, and he continues to improve. In November of 2019, we were able to have the feeding tube removed and the first time we went out to eat at a restaurant he ordered steamed clams, one of the hardest things to eat! Now he eats all the time.”

Felicia notes that while the shutdown of the outpatient center due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been tough, they are doing their best to maintain his routine.

“On top of his regular exercises, we have a railing along our wall and we work on standing five minutes at a time a few times a day. It doesn’t sound like much to a regular person, but to someone who has been through something like this, it is incredible.”

Felicia is a crucial part of her husband’s recovery team. Stroke affects the whole family and so the involvement of spouses, children, and others in the patient’s support system is a vital part of recovery. With the education and training she gained throughout this journey, Felicia is able to continue to help her husband build his strength and encourage him so that his determination never goes away.

“My husband was never much of a talker, so every once and a while, he’ll try to get away with a head nod or a one word answer. That’s not how it works in this house. I want a full sentence,” said Felicia. “It’s not just about his physical strength. It’s keeping his mind busy too.”

While they are looking forward to the re-opening of the outpatient center, Felicia says she is doing her best to help her husband keep all the gains he has made and thanks family members, like her niece (a physical therapist) who helps Carl take a few steps on the weekends, for their support too.