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Discovering a New Normal - Mike Wilson


Mar, 2019

Mike Wilson loved his home in Buchanan, Michigan. He spent much of his free time taking walks downtown and throughout the nearby parks. But after suffering a stroke at only 48 years old, his ability to live independently was now in jeopardy.

One morning as Mike went to get out of bed, something didn’t feel quite right. He had lost all control over his right leg which caused him to fall down, pinning him between his bed and the wall. Mike struggled to call for help and remained stuck for nearly two hours. He was finally able to reach his cell phone and contacted his sister who lived nearby.

Upon arriving at Mike’s house, his nephew, a firefighter, and brother-in-law, who is also a local police officer, immediately called an ambulance which took him to Lakeland Hospital Niles. By the time he arrived at the emergency department, the care team had already been informed that he may be suffering from a stroke, and were prepared to take quick action.

“The moment he arrived at the hospital, and even on the way there, we knew Mike was in excellent hands,” said Mike’s mother, Jere Wilson. “Due to a previous traumatic brain injury, Mike has metal plates in his skull, so the doctors weren’t able to perform an MRI. This didn’t slow them down and it was amazing how fast they were able to get him the care he needed.”

Because of the complexity of his situation, Mike was transferred to Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph where he spent the next three days in the hospital before going to Lakeland Hospital Watervliet. Mike would spend the next month participating in an extensive inpatient rehabilitation program, three hours a day, seven days a week, to help him return to his normal functions.

Lakeland Hospital Watervliet has one of only 12 Stroke Specialty Programs in the state of Michigan. The specialized team of therapists, nurses, physicians, and social workers all receive special training in the treatment of individuals with a stroke, which helps patients like Mike better understand their individual situation and goals.

“The entire rehabilitation team worked hard with him and I truly believe he would be in a nursing home today if it wasn’t for their dedication,” said Mike’s dad, Doug Wilson. “At the start he couldn’t even lift his right arm or leg – it’s unbelievable how much progress he’s made since that day.”

Mike’s number one goal throughout the entire rehabilitation process was to return home. With the help of his care team he learned how to navigate using a wheelchair and how to perform daily living tasks such as dressing and getting in and out of bed. He also participated in a number of exercises to strengthen his muscles including riding the stationary bike and walking using the parallel bars.

“We didn’t anticipate this experience being so emotionally taxing on us as parents,” said Doug. “I can’t describe how helpful everyone was throughout the entire process. We wouldn’t have made it through without them.”

Since returning home, Mike continues to adjust to his new normal with the help of a visiting nurse and therapists from Lakeland Homecare, as he continues to undergo outpatient rehabilitation, with the hopes of being able to get around using a walker or cane so he can visit his beloved Buchanan landmarks once again. He also has home caregivers who come by twice daily to assist with personal care so that he may remain at home.

“My rehabilitation team gave me such great care - I don’t think I would be here without them,” said Mike. “I love my home and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”


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