Andy Rodriguez has been a longtime supporter of St. Luke’s, currently serving on the West Treasure Valley Community Board. Late last year, he got a very personal glimpse of the sort of work he supports.
Rodriguez is the executive director of the Nampa Housing Authority, which also has a strong relationship with St. Luke’s as a recent Community Health Improvement Fund grant recipient.
During the fall, Rodriguez had a nagging ill feeling he couldn’t kick. It was a likely infection but wasn’t pinned down until a mid-November visit to St. Luke’s Nampa.
“I’m very happy for having done so,” Rodriguez said.
Tests were done immediately, diagnosing a blood infection and endocarditis. That evening, Rodriguez had a stroke, leading to a long and challenging recovery process.Rodriguez praised Dr. Edward Duckworth and his team for “bringing me back from the brink of death,” stopping the brain bleeding after three surgeries.
The work had only just begun.
Rodriguez had to remain in Boise, moving to St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital in early December, staying there through his birthday and Christmas. At that time, he could not stay awake for 45-minute sessions, could not sit at the edge of the bed unsupported, had recently been upgraded to a modified diet (from a nasogastric tube), had no vision in his left eye, and had weakness and inattention to his right side.
Rodriguez also had to wear a helmet at all times. He was confused, lethargic and required constant supervision to maintain his safety. He spent every day working with speech, physical and occupational therapy teams.
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, “occupational therapy intervention uses everyday life activities (occupations) to promote health, well-being, and your ability to participate in the important activities.”
That was a major focus for Rodriguez, who noted one exercise involving a light board challenged him after having post-stroke vision issues, calling it his “nemesis.”
“(Occupational therapist) Kim (Hendrickson) did a great job of explaining the correlation between what exercise we were doing and how it translated to the goal of working again,” Rodriguez said. “I made it very clear to Kim that was not my favorite exercise, but she assured me it was necessary and would help me in my healing process.
“She was right!”
Soon, Rodriguez saw clear progress. He was able to return home Dec. 29, eating normally and not needing two people to help him out of bed. He entered St. Luke’s brain injury therapy program and saw how much his skills had improved, taking the same test two months apart. That kept him going, and in early April, he was back at work, a nice way to kick off Occupational Therapy Month.
“The quality of therapy I received was extremely high at all levels and was what provided me with the ability to take me from potentially not being able to work again, to providing me with the skills to be able to work, in just four months’ time,” he said.“I hope to never find myself in this situation again, however if I do, I hope that I am still in the area and we'll be able to get the best occupational therapy available in our state, right here in Boise, Idaho.”
Dave Southorn works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.