Making Every Second Count - Timothy Buchana
Time lost is brain lost. For 51-year-old, Timothy Buchana, this simple statement became a startling reality on the morning of December 28, 2018. While at home one afternoon, Timothy’s son noticed his dad didn’t look quite right. He was staggering a bit and having trouble with his words. His son acted quickly and called 9-1-1. It was this simple action that likely saved his father’s life.
Care begin immediately in the ambulance on the way to the emergency department at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph. Timothy doesn’t remember the next seven days of his life. He suffered from a brain hemorrhage – a type of stroke caused by an artery in the brain that bursts resulting in bleeding in the surrounding tissues.
Once at the hospital, a series of tests revealed the bleeding was localized on the right side of Timothy’s body – which would impact function on his left side. He was given medications to control blood pressure, seizures or headaches and spent the next week in a coma.
“When I finally woke up I couldn’t remember anything – I didn’t know where I was,” said Timothy. “My left side was completely impaired. I couldn’t walk or even get out of bed on my own.”
With the swelling of his brain under control, Timothy was transferred to Lakeland Hospital Watervliet where he would spend the next month undergoing an extensive inpatient rehabilitation program specially designed for patients suffering from a stroke. As one of only 12 Stroke Specialty Programs in the state of Michigan, Timothy had a specialized team of therapists, nurses, physicians, and social workers dedicated to his recovery.
He spent three hours a day, seven days a week working with physical, occupational, and speech therapists who helped him regain his strength and relearn the basic functions he would need in order to return home.
“My therapy team pushed me every day to help gain my mobility back,” said Timothy. “Nothing was easy, but I didn’t give up. I could feel myself getting stronger and stronger every day.”
In just a few weeks’ time Timothy transitioned from not being able to walk at all, to walking with the help of his therapist, then using a walker, and eventually getting around with no assistance. His care team couldn’t believe how quickly he recovered, as some people who suffer from injuries like his live with lifelong complications. Timothy even set the record for the speediest recovery in the unit. He was awarded a plaque signed by his entire care team when it was time for him to go home.
Before being discharged from the hospital, a physical therapist visited Timothy’s home in Benton Harbor to ensure it was safe for him to return to. They practiced going up and down the stairs and installed bars in the shower to assist him with getting in and out. He continues to work with an outpatient therapy team at Lakeland Rehabilitation in Coloma twice a week.
Timothy knows he is one of the lucky ones as his grandfather died from a stroke and his father from a heart attack. Looking ahead, he plans to savor each moment life gives him and to enjoy the time he gets to spend with his grandchildren.
“I’m nearly back to 100 percent and I couldn’t feel more blessed,” said Timothy. “My care team was excellent – they motivated me so much and I truly have them to thank for where I am today.”