Published on May 05, 2014

Recover from stroke with Mercy Philadelphia

Helping stroke patients get back on their feet.

Reginald PelzerReginald “Reggie” Pelzer remembers he was cooking in his kitchen one day when he started “feeling funny.” “I was dizzy and my eyesight became blurry,” recalls the 64-year-old West Philadelphia man. “I’ve never had that feeling before—I could hardly move my body.” Reggie, who has diabetes, checked his blood sugar as a precaution, but his levels looked fine. “That’s when I called my nephew and said, ‘I think I have to go to the hospital.’”

The right thing

He was experiencing an ischemic stroke, meaning blood flow to his brain was prevented. And his quick thinking to get to the Mercy Philadelphia Emergency Department meant doctors could give him treatment right away.

But the stroke had left him unable to walk or swallow. His speech was slurred and he had double vision. He was sent for rehabilitation, only to suffer another stroke there.

He returned to another Mercy hospital, Mercy Fitzgerald, located right across the street from his rehabilitation facility, for treatment. He then was sent back to the rehabilitation facility, where he stayed for nearly 3 months.

A long recovery

“I couldn’t walk; I was stuck to a wheelchair. I slept all the time and was on heavy medication,” he recalls. But Reggie was determined to reclaim his life. “Nurses worked with me on exercises for my legs and my arms, so I could move my limbs,” he says. “I had to learn how to eat and how to walk all over again.”

He at last returned home. Once there, he was grateful for the constant check-up care provided by Mercy Home Health: Aides came to his home every other day, where they took his blood pressure, helped him walk up stairs and made sure he felt well.

It was before he left the hospital that Lynn Rinylo, RN, stroke coordinator at Mercy Philadelphia, asked him: Would he be interested in attending Mercy Philadelphia’s stroke support group?

“I said ‘yes’ right away,” says Reggie. Recovery from a stroke can be frustrating, Reggie says, and it helps so much to be surrounded by people who are experiencing the same thing.

Stroke support group

“The group has been so helpful to me—I can share my story,” says Reggie. “Some of the people there are in wheelchairs, some are using walkers. I say to them, ‘Don’t give up just because you had a stroke. I was just like you once, and it will get better.’” Adds Lynn: “Reggie is very funny and very real —he doesn’t hold back and has been instrumental in encouraging the rest of the group to share their experiences.”

Reggie, who is now walking on his own again without the help of a walker or even a cane, never misses a stroke support meeting. “You are with other people who went through what you went through, and you can relate,” he says. “I consider myself an inspiration to them, and they are an inspiration to me.”

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