At 85, Alice came to Lahey Health at Home with multiple sclerosis. She was unable to walk, had no use of her right arm and had no functional use of her left arm — the result of a stroke. She was dependent on others for all aspects of basic self-care, including eating and brushing her teeth.
Alice’s outlook, however, was positive, and as her occupational therapist I was determined to help her reach her goals. Months of therapy allowed Alice to slowly regain range of motion and functional use of her left arm. One of the most rewarding moments for me as a therapist was the day Alice was able to feed herself with her left hand. She told me she couldn’t recall the last time she fed herself, but will never forget the day she was able to once again!
Alice can now brush her teeth, read using her left hand to flip pages, sign her name and operate a power wheelchair. She is an entirely different Alice from the one I met months earlier — gone was the concern and uncertainty.
My last visit with Alice was full of laughter and tears. Knowing I had made a positive difference in someone’s life — and given back to Alice the autonomy for which she longed — gave new meaning to my own. As I prepared to leave, Alice stopped me. “I have something for you,” she said. Reaching for her notebook with arms that now had function, she handed me a small piece of paper.
On it she had written the simple words, “Thank You.”
Joshua Ambrose, MS OTR/L
After being a widower for just six months, Jack suddenly found himself in an assisted living facility. When I first visited him, he told me that life as he knew it was over. He was not looking forward to the future; he wanted to go home.
Jack had stopped taking his medications after his wife passed away. After multiple emergency room visits for blood pressure issues and failure to thrive, he was referred to Lahey Health at Home.
At our first meeting he was withdrawn and would not answer my questions. I asked if he had looked into all the activities his new home offered, and he abruptly said he hadn’t. After I took his vitals and did his skin care, he expected me to leave. Instead, I asked him to come to the common area with me to show me the facility. When we got there, Jack reluctantly agreed to try one of the activities.
At our next visit he was so ill that I needed to call the doctor and send him to the emergency room, where some changes were made to his medications. He was impressed that I returned the next day despite the anger he had expressed the day before. That was the beginning of a change in our relationship. We had established trust.
My belief in Jack and his understanding that I was there for him bore miraculous results. He transitioned beautifully to his assisted living facility, and he became medically stable. He gained the confidence to reach out to a new group of peers and learned the importance of skin care, medication compliance and diet.
Most importantly, he confided to me that he now had a new lease on life. Had I not encouraged him to give life a second chance, he said, he would not be where he was — happy, engaged and healthy.
This is why we do what we do.
Susan Cruikshank, RN
While in the hospital, Bob had acquired a staph infection. He was sent home with an intravenous line and intravenous antibiotics. His insurance plan instructed us to teach a family member how to administer the medications, and allowed us only once-weekly visits to change the dressing and get information for the lab.
Looking into Bob’s medical history, I discovered that a stroke some years ago had left him with limited use of his hands. His daughter was unable to provide care because she had just had wrist surgery and was unable to assist him while in a brace.
We knew that changes had to be made, and informed his insurance company that Bob would need daily visits, documenting the need for our expanded services.
Bob expressed his thanks for our intervention with his insurance providers — an intervention that enabled he and his wife to receive the expanded care they both needed — in a heartfelt letter that reminded all of us at Lahey Health at Home why we do what we do.
Susan Cruikshank, RN