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A Caregiver’s Journey: Couple Finds New Hope This Valentine’s Day

A Caregiver’s Journey: Couple Finds New Hope This Valentine’s Day

A Caregiver’s Journey: Couple Finds New Hope This Valentine’s Day

Mark and Lori met in 2009 on a blind date set up by their mutual friend. Mark, a nature lover who is generally more reserved and shy than Lori, declined at first. Now, 14 years later, Mark and Lori have been happily married for over 3 years. However, in December of 2021, Mark and Lori’s lives changed unexpectedly. Mark fell at home while Lori was away at a retreat. Lori rushed home to find Mark unconscious; he was then rushed to the hospital where he had an emergency craniotomy and suffered a stroke as a result.

While in a coma, Mark’s prognosis was either a permanent coma or a 99% chance he would be bedridden for life. Nonetheless, Lori stayed by his side and advocated for him when it felt like there was no hope left. One day, she felt a squeeze on her hand as his eyes finally opened. Mark, who was now confined to a wheelchair, spent two months at a skilled nursing facility with minimal rehabilitation. In July 2022, Mark came to Centre for Neuro Skills’ Bakersfield clinic, where he began intensive neurorehabilitation therapy, including aquatic therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, and counseling.

Since July, Mark has made extensive progress with the help of his care team and case manager, Alicia Salazar. Through counseling therapy, Mark established two short-term goals: to eat independently and to improve his speech. Mark has achieved both of his goals and is now able to self-feed and confidently speak to his peers, counselors, and wife.

Lori, who travels to Bakersfield every weekend from the Bay Area, attends counseling sessions and therapy programs alongside Mark to learn the steps and techniques needed to provide Mark the care he needs. During Mark’s first weekend stay with her, Lori felt worried and scared. But with the support of Mark’s residential care team and treatment coordinators at CNS, Lori has learned how to confidently use a Hoyer lift, assist in changing his clothes, and provide care for Mark on the weekends. She shares tips on caregiving to stroke survivor groups on Facebook and continues to support Mark through his recovery journey.

“The sky is the limit,” said Lori. “By coming to CNS, Mark now has a fighting chance to survive.”

In late January, Mark celebrated his birthday by going to the movie theaters with his wife, Lori – their first date night in over a year.

Adventure was a key theme of their wedding, and it is what Lori hopes she and Mark can return to post-therapy: more adventures and more date nights.