Jean Wiseman's life changed in the middle of making an angel food cake.
Wiseman and her husband, Sherm, were in the kitchen of their home east of Cheyenne on Oct. 29, 2011, making a cake for their daughter-in-law's birthday.
"I reached for the sugar to put it into the egg whites as he was beating them," she said. "And then I went to the floor."
Her husband held her to protect her head from hitting the floor: "She was like a wet dish towel."
When she tried to speak, he knew what was wrong.
She was having a stroke.
"Her speech was very slurred. You couldn't understand her," he said.
He called 911; emergency crews rushed her to the hospital.
Jean Wiseman had not been sick before her stroke. It took her by surprise.
Her journey to recovery began that day. She has made great progress since, getting therapy at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Life Care Center and through Continue Care, a home health-care business.
Wiseman is one of about 795,000 Americans who suffer strokes every year.
More than 137,000 a year die from strokes, making it the fourth-leading cause of death.
In Wyoming, there were 189 deaths from stroke in 2010, down from 217 in 2009, said Joe Grandpre at the state Department of Health.
In 2010, 33 people died from stroke in Laramie County compared to 31 in 2009 and 35 in 2008.
On the mend
Jean Wiseman is proud of her progress since her stroke of a little more than a year ago.
"I've had an awful lot of good trained help," she said, her deep blue eyes shining.
She regained her speech within the first week and talks without difficulty.
Her mind is sharp as evidenced by her keen sense of humor.
But there still is work to do. She does therapy to help regain control and strength of her left side, especially her left arm.
She is in a wheelchair much of the time, but she plans to reduce that through her physical and occupational therapy work.
The Wisemans have been a team throughout their 57 years of marriage. So it's no surprise that they approach Jean's recovery as a team effort too.
Sherm is with her at her sessions at Life Care Center. He created a walking route inside their home and installed grab bars. He urges her to ride her stationary bike at home.
"I'm riding to nowhere again," she said, laughing when she talks about the bicycle that stays put.
Jean was an inpatient for 10 days at CRMC, five of which were in ICU. Her condition was touch and go at first.
She then was at CRMC-East's Acute Rehabilitation Unit for a month. There, she learned how to sit up and walk again.
The rehab unit focuses on getting patients to their previous level of functioning, said Staci Stone, director of the acute rehab and transitional care units.
Physical and occupational therapists and nurses trained in rehab make up the staffing. Its doctor is skilled in working with rehab patients too.
Employees help patients with individual needs, whether it's learning to walk or talk again or to get dressed and eat.
"The sooner people get rehab, the better the outcome," Stone said.
The unit has a room of rehab equipment like parallel bars.
It also has a one that looks like a home. There, patients learn the skills to return to their daily lives.
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