Surviving two strokes - Omaha, Nebraska - CHI Health

Surviving two strokes

Article Date: Mar 1, 2013

It was a reality check for Elizabeth Pokorny. She spent the better part of her life taking care of everyone else. Elizabeth is a mom first, and a nurse a close second. So when she suffered a mild stroke, she had to learn to rely on others.

"I started to call it my stroke of luck," Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth was only in the hospital for a day or two. The stroke affected her vision but not for long - and then it happened again.

"I started to have some problems with my left side, I didn't feel quite right," Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth suffered another stroke. This one was not as kind.

"I couldn't lift my hand or turn myself over in bed," Elizabeth said.

There was a lot Elizabeth couldn't do and she knew it. She wanted to remain independent and wondered how she was going to do that.

"I told God that I was okay with the vision stroke but this one was a little harder because how am I going to manage at home," Elizabeth said.

But the therapists at Alegent Creighton Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Center had that all figured out. Their goal is to get stroke patients home - back into their old life. It begins with a plan, custom -made for their unique challenges.

"When they come to us, they're at our mercy and they're looking for a lot of help from a mental and physical standpoint. We start by setting small goals and celebrate the little things," Lindsay Nichols, Elizabeth's physical therapist said.

And that eventually turns into big things. Elizabeth needed physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Part of that therapy involved dining out at a local restaurant.

"She went out with a speech therapist to a restaurant for lunch and practiced ordering for her diet. She used her left side and practiced cutting, walking around, and pulling out chairs. That was something that was important to her," Nichols said.

Something else that was important to Elizabeth was getting home. One of the biggest things standing in her way was the stairs inside and outside her home. So the steps became a big part of her therapy.

"Even though I dreaded it, it was so hard to do those steps. They brought blocks for me to work with. I would lift my leg up and down 15 times. A few days later there was another challenge. They had me walk stairs like I was home," Elizabeth said.

And then she was home. In all Elizabeth suffered 4 strokes. She's not back at work but she is volunteering and keeping up with her exercises. Elizabeth spends one day a week in the pool at Immanuel's Aquatic Center working on any weakness left from the stroke.

"When I'm in the water I'm light as a feather. Isn't that a good feeling? I can do things in the water that I wouldn't be able to do," Elizabeth said.

The quality of care you receive after an injury or illness can determine your quality of life. At Immanuel Rehabilitation Center, they offer more than physical occupational and speech therapy. They restore hope – one patient at a time - to people ready to get on with their life.

If you would like more information on the services available at Immanuel Rehabilitation Center call 1-800-ALEGENT or got

Reader Comments
Posted: Feb 24 2014 4:03 PM CST by maureen mcandrews

With top notch people like Ellen Stryker helping Elizabeth, she is in good hands!

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