Getting Quality of Life Back
The story of Carol Wendle

“When I first got to St. Luke’s in a wheelchair, I couldn’t push it with my right arm — it would keep falling off the wheel,” Carol recalled. “I went in circles because I had one strong leg and one strong arm.”

After suffering a stroke in the fall of 2007, Carol Wendle could no longer move the right side of her body. She lost the ability to walk or write. She couldn’t dress herself and she needed someone to feed her. In her mid 60s and a retired school teacher who walked every day and led an active life prior to her stroke, Carol was determined to move again. So she turned to St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute for help.

Carol spent 35 days in inpatient therapy learning how to use the right half of her body again. During her stay at St. Luke’s, she progressed from the wheelchair to a walker and eventually to a cane. With continued outpatient therapy, Carol was able to walk without assistance just five months after her stroke.

Carol says she was able to make great strides thanks to the “caring and dedicated” staff at St. Luke’s. “When I got there, there was so much I couldn’t do, but from the moment I went through those doors I improved each day thanks to the amazing staff,” she said. “They were so in tune with what my needs were. I was so impressed with the level of care and commitment.”

“Everybody (at St. Luke’s) is genuinely involved in your health improvement. Every staff person, no matter their position, is focused on the patient, from the aide to the nurses to the physical therapists to the people who clean your room. It is amazing to me what a team it is and how concerned they are with the welfare of each patient.”

Staff at St. Luke’s took into account Carol’s hobbies and interests as well as movements that were essential to her everyday life. “They try to assess what you love doing and match something that will be beneficial to your therapy,” she explained. “Every day was a challenge to improve – to do things better, to do things easier.”

While it was hard to leave that extended family and the safety of St. Luke’s, Carol was able to make the smooth transition back to her home thanks to the careful preparations made by hospital staff. They not only assessed her home for any needed accommodations; they also took her on multiple outings including trips to her regular grocery store and on walks through her neighborhood. These excursions helped Carol develop confidence in her ability to regain independence, she said.

Now, she can cook once again and accomplish many of the chores and activities that have always been part of her day-to-day life. “I can take care of myself and my needs,” she said. “I’ve come a very long ways and often remind myself of that.”

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