A Story of PERSEVERANCE and SUCCESS
Sometimes our fears can keep us stuck in places we know we don’t want to be. On April 25, 2015, I fell to the ground in my backyard. I was unable to sit up, roll over, move my head, walk, my vision and speech were impaired. I could not hold anything, feed myself, brush my teeth, and my cognitive processing was slow. The doctors and neurologist were stunned by an MRI that showed some of the white matter in my brain had been altered, but there was no explanation of why. Six days later after being admitted to the hospital; I was being discharged to a rehab hospital with no diagnosis.
After three days in the rehab hospital I was being discharged again to a nursing home. I was told that I was permanently disabled and would be in a wheel chair. I quickly rolled myself out of the room and asked to use a computer. I felt this situation at least warranted a second opinion. All I could see is my life ending as I knew it. Never getting to do all the things I wanted to do; not reaching my goals and dreams. As fearful as I was, I was just as determined to get my life back.
After many hours on the computer struggling to see the words, I came across information that could be helpful to my condition at Johns Hopkins. I rolled my wheel chair down the hall and requested to have the social worker make a referral. After the referral was made, the social worker informed me that it could take a week or two to hear back from them. I promptly asked her to wheel me outside and dial my phone to the vestibular clinic. They answered quickly, and an appointment was set up for two days later.
After arriving to Johns Hopkins and many tests later, it was found that my right vestibular nerve had died, which completely shut down all functioning on the right side of my body. The doctor said that in fact I was disabled, and he could only recommend a specialized physical therapy; vestibular physical therapy. He did not know the level of recovery, but he gave me hope. That’s all I needed: hope. I decided that no matter what would come my way that I was putting in my mind that I could handle any challenge.
After a week at vestibular physical therapy, I did not see much improvement. I decided to rehab myself using the vestibular physical therapy at home six to eight hours a day. I used the exercises and related them to real life activities. I did them over and over every day, six to eight hours a day for seven and a half months. I added meditation, journaling and positive affirmations to my routine. Each week, I went back to physical therapy, and the improvement was off the charts. The doctor at Johns Hopkins was impressed. And frankly, so was I. I was able to start back working part-time, and shortly after I was able to go back to work full-time. Eventually, I was able to drive.
Now, not fearing anything, I have gone parasailing, took a trip to Florida via air plane, traveled to New York, swim, enjoy Zumba, bike ride, garden, walk my dogs, go to the beach, and anything else I want to do. Even entering and finishing the sixty-three-mile bike ride in the Sea Gull Century!!! It was a very proud moment for me. I still have balance checkups from time to time; but there is nothing I can’t do. From being told I was going to live my life in a wheel chair to being fully functioning and living fearlessly…….
Angela Blake, LCSW-C, Child and Adolescent Therapist
Angela is a licensed certified social worker – clinical specializing in providing therapy to families and children. In 2003 Angela earned her Master’s degree from the University Of Maryland in Baltimore. After coordinating youth programs for the Salvation Army and directing the Family Center at East Salisbury School, Angela has been therapist in local mental health agencies both private and public.
Angela specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brief Therapy, Expressive Art Therapy, Mindfulness, and other Mind Body Therapies. Angela works with adults, children, families, and groups, addressing a range of needs from depression, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, relationship concerns, and life adjustments and organizing students for optimal success in school.