Husband and father Brad Fahrenkamp lived a fast-paced lifestyle, working 70 or more hours a week as a financial advisor, staying active with two young boys and sleeping little. He was only 40, so he never thought a stroke would change his life. Until it did.
On April 1, 2013, Brad started the day like any other, walking his 6-year-old son to the bus stop. He stayed home that day, choosing to work from there. Yet, by mid-morning, he began to experience what he thought was a simple case of vertigo, making him vomit for four hours. By that evening, he could no longer feel the left side of his body and fell immediately to the floor when he stood to go to the hospital.
After several tests in the emergency room, the staff neurologist told Brad that not only had he had one, but three strokes that day. How he survived was remarkable. “I remember him saying people of faith would say you had an angel looking out for you,” Brad recalled.
Brad’s condition worsened with an actively bleeding brain aneurysm before he was stabilized. Once he was able to participate in rehabilitation, he was moved to HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital at Drake.
At the beginning of his program, Brad’s left side was numb. He was unable to walk, swallow or speak well. He experienced double vision, making it impossible to read or operate a simple remote. Hiccups lasted for three days straight. And severe swelling caused extreme pain.
Brad’s rehabilitation team did not delay in getting Brad up and moving with advanced technologies, targeted treatments and professional, compassionate care. He recalls that he received support from the entire HealthSouth team from the therapists and nurses to the administrators and custodians. “Not only did they medically support me but they also emotionally supported me,” Brad said. “When you’re recovering from a stroke, it is as much a mental battle as it is a physical battle.”
Along with his family, friends and community that stood by his side throughout his rehabilitation, HealthSouth helped Brad reclaim the strength, balance and independence he prayed for. After only 30 days in the hospital and at HealthSouth Drake, Brad regained the ability to swallow, stand and walk small distances on his own, and walk up and downstairs. He reduced medications from 13 to three. In addition, his hiccups ceased. “HealthSouth was instrumental in my recovery,” Brad said.