RRI from the Patient's Perspective
My Stroke changed my life. RRI changed it again.
One man's story of recovery and return
During his senior year as a high school quarterback in Newport News, Jim Hogan set state and even national records for touchdowns and total yardage that stood for many years. As a highly sought after athlete, his future in college and very possibly the pros looked like a sure bet.
But two serious knee injuries altered that path and while Jim’s life took a different direction his athleticism and competitive spirit found a new home with the Newport News Police Department. During his 30 plus years of service with the NNPD, Jim’s physical abilities proved to be a benefit in his policing activities and he also captained one of the department’s softball teams, appropriately named "Hogan’s Heroes."
But when Jim entered Riverside Rehabilitation Institute for post-stroke care, those days seemed distant and almost unimaginable.
"I had been having some weakness and a bit of numbness on my left side. My wife, Jennifer, insisted that I see my primary care doctor which I did. He sent me straight to the ED at Riverside Regional Medical Center, where I was treated for what quickly became a full-blown stroke."
"I really don’t remember much about what happened during the initial stroke treatment, but I was glad that I made it to the hospital on time. Shortly after I was stabilized I was transferred to RRI. Because of the high level of care there I was able to get into rehab sooner, which I found out can mean a great deal when you’re recovering from stroke.""My first few days there are pretty much a blur since I could hardly keep my eyes open and was extremely weak and fatigued. The worst part was that I was paralyzed on my left side. Fortunately I could still speak and swallow but half my body felt like it was frozen. The therapists started working with me right away and while I wasn’t too excited about it at the time, their determination and encouragement paid off."
"At first I could barely sit up, but they kept working with me, through small and large muscle therapy. I asked them if they thought I would ever walk again, and they told me that if I put my best effort forward and stayed positive I would be walking out of RRI, with the aid of a walker, when I was discharged."
Jim went through the inpatient phase of his rehab for more than three weeks and during that time he saw other individuals getting the kind of specialized care that would help them get back to their lives and families.
"There was one young man who was there to recover after brain surgery. He couldn’t even lift his head up at first. But before I left he was discharged and walked right out of there. His courage and hard work were a real inspiration for me."
Jim’s tentative first steps increased in duration and while he was still experiencing some debilitation, he did, as the medical and therapy staff told him, walk out of RRI. After getting back, he received home visits from therapists and later continued his rehabilitation as an outpatient. Jim credits his training in the police force as a foundation for helping him, as he describes it, "work through the fear." And he believes that the care he received, first in the emergency department at Riverside Regional Medical Center and later at Riverside Rehabilitation Institute, gave him back his life.
"I know the people at RRI have an agenda for what they have to accomplish, and they are all extremely professional. But what I saw with other patients and what I experienced firsthand told me that I was very fortunate to be in the presence of these healers. The kindness and respect they showed me, the compassion they brought to their work every day let me know that it was more than just a job."
As a way of thanking the people who provide care at RRI, Jim had hoped to participate in this year’s 5K by the Bay, the annual run, walk and roll activity that directs proceeds to the Riverside Rehabilitation Giving Fund as well as patients who need assistance with their care. While he was not able to carry out that goal, a team of individuals, including his wife Jennifer, participated in honoring both Jim Hogan and the RRI staff that took part in his rehabilitation.