Mary B. had an Arterio-Venous-Malformation (AVM), more commonly known as a brain bleed. Her life changed in an instant. One minute she was getting ready for school as the acting principal of Hood School in Lynn, Massachusetts, and the next she was getting rushed to MGH by ambulance.
“After I realized that my recovery was not going to happen overnight, I cried myself to sleep for a month…” ~Mary B., January 28, 2010
Mary had a six-hour, life-saving brain surgery to stop the bleeding. For 2 1/2 weeks, she was in the Intensive Care Unit at Mass. General Hospital. When she came out of it, she couldn’t feel the right side of her body. Initial conversations at the hospital consisted of shaking her head up and down for “yes,” and side-to-side for “no.” By the time she left Mass. General to rehab at Spaulding Hospital Boston, she had graduated to spoken “yes” and “no” responses.
Four years later, we caught up with Mary to see how she had progressed. Mary took advantage of numerous therapy tools in order to regain her speech and problem solving skills. One tool that Mary used to help her recovery was Constant Therapy.
Q) How would you describe your life prior to your event?
Mary: As the acting principal of Hood School in Lynn, MA, my life-long dream of becoming an elementary school principal was materializing. As a principal, I had to do a lot of reading to keep current in the field and for pleasure. I used to go dancing, to the movies and out to dinner with family and friends. In good weather I would bike and swim.
Q) How would you describe your life since your event?
Mary: I have been working hard on my recovery. I have received speech, physical, and occupational therapy. I have gone back to work as a teacher. I go to the movies, out to dinner with friends and family, and shopping. I have gone to some adaptive sports programs. I passed my road test in April and had my license reinstated.
Q) What do you like best about the Constant Therapy app?
Mary: My iPad is always with me so the Constant Therapy app is always at my disposal. Whenever I have time, I can work on some of my assigned tasks. When I am in school Monday through Friday, I do my tasks when I am refreshed (a light day at school – few and far between!) but on the weekends I do it religiously.
Q) Can you describe the advances you’ve made using Constant Therapy?
Mary: After the AVM, I needed more work with my numbers: saying, writing and doing the operations (+, -, x,÷). I conquered writing numbers, addition and subtraction with help from Constant Therapy. My division and multiplication still need practice, so I use Constant Therapy for that. I can also track my progress with the Constant Therapy app.
Q) What encouragement would you give others who have suffered stroke or brain injury?
Mary: Every person’s journey is different. After I realized that my recovery was not going to happen overnight, I cried myself to sleep for a month. Then I was determined to make a “new normal” for myself. I took all the therapy (SLT, OT, PT) I could get for myself. My local Aphasia Community Group meets once a month and it gives me a chance to talk to others that are in the same boat as me, people living with Aphasia. Sometimes I still cry but just for a minute. I think of my “new normal” life and it makes me smile. I would tell others it is a struggle, and yes it may take a long time, but use all the therapies available to you, and don’t give up.