April 7, 2004
Methodist employee rebounds from stroke with help from coworkers
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—Delivering medicine to Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s stroke unit used to be mere routine for pharmacy technician Linda Adcock of Ridgeland.
But now the journey from her second floor office to the fourth floor unit feels like a victory lap.
Not too long ago, Adcock was residing in Room 415 of the Jackson hospital, wondering if she would ever be able to walk or work again.
On Aug. 15, she became one of the 750,000 Americans each year who suffer a stroke. Known as a brain attack, stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blood clot or a broken blood vessel. According to the State Department of Health, stroke disables about 2,000 Mississippians each year.
“Working here, I knew stroke was devastating,” Adcock said. “But I never thought it would happen to me.”
Adcock was home when she began exhibiting two common symptoms of a stroke – slurred speech and loss of coordination.
“My brother and sister were there, thank goodness,” Adcock said. “They took me to the bedroom and I couldn’t walk. They called 911.”
Adcock was fortunate that medical help was close at hand because receiving prompt treatment is one key to a successful recovery. Another is having access to stroke-specific rehab, and Adcock said she feels lucky that her family was already well acquainted with the quality of care at Methodist.
“They knew if I was going to have rehab, this is where it was going to be,” she said. “The therapists here are tremendous. They know what they are doing.”
When Adcock arrived on the stroke floor, her therapy team anticipated that her familiarity with the unit would be an advantage.
“I think it helps a person cope because they’ve seen miracles happen here and they have faith,” said physical therapist Wendy Barrilleaux. “From the time she came in, she was of the position: ‘I have to get better.’ She did everything we asked her to. She never said: ‘No.’ She just worked and worked and worked.”
The stroke affected Adcock’s left side, leaving her with a paralyzed arm and leg. “When I first came here I couldn’t even touch my index finger to my thumb,” she said. “Basically I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t do anything for myself.”
Nevertheless, Adcock said she never had a down thought. “I knew when I came in here I was going to go out walking,” she said.
“There was no question about her motivation,” said Pharmacy Director Sandy Culver, who kept up with Adcock’s progress by monitoring her condition as she passed by the pharmacy window each day on the way to respiratory therapy.
“She would go by the window in a wheelchair, then walking with two therapists, then with one therapist,” Culver said. “I thought she was progressing quickly.”
Barrilleaux said Adcock saw significant improvements after several therapy sessions on the hospital’s weight-supported treadmill system. “She had good carryover from walking on the treadmill to walking on the ground,” Barrilleaux said. “We actually got her to the point she could walk with a straight cane by the time she went home.”
Occupational therapist Scotty Dickey also worked with Adcock, focusing on skills that would assist her in daily living activities and ease her transition back to the workplace.
While Adcock was determined to return to her pharmacy job, Dickey said he initially thought that would be a long shot. But Adcock ultimately benefited from having an ideal situation: “When trying to get someone back to work, it helps to get that person in as natural a work environment as possible,” Dickey said. In Adcock’s case, that was as simple as taking her two floors down to her office.
“The pharmacy staff was really cooperative,” Dickey said. “Even before we took Linda downstairs, they let us bring up packing material so we could simulate her working environment here.”
Adcock was back on the job Nov. 2, and says she has adjusted well. “I still can do everything I did before, I just can’t do things as fast,” she said.
But in a sense, that’s fitting. Adcock said having a stroke taught her to slow down and stop and smell the roses. “I had kind of taken this place for granted,” she said. “Now I consider myself blessed.”
Warning Signs of Stroke
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headaches with no known cause.