On August 9, 1988, he had ridden his moped two
miles from Blynman Bridge to our home in East
Gloucester, Massachusetts. When I came home from
work that day, I found Robert on the floor of the living
room in a fetal position.
Immediately, I brought him to see the doctor on call at
the Cape Ann Medical Center, where he was misdiagnosed
as having an inner-ear infection, even though his right arm
was paralyzed and he was dragging his right leg. A few
hours later I called an ambulance, and he was admitted to
Addison Gilbert Hospital. Bob was sent to Beverly Hospital
for a CAT scan and diagnosed as having a stroke.
During his three weeks at Shaughnessy Rehab Hospital
in Salem, I would visit after work from SeniorCare Inc.
where I was a care manager/social worker. I would pick up
a meal in the cafeteria and have supper with him outside
on the deck. Bob was discharged with an AFO (ankle-foot
orthotic) and walker. A nurse and physical therapist visited
our home twice a week for two months. When he was
strong enough to be able to leave the house, he continued
rehab as an outpatient.
For many months Bob continued rehab twice a week.
Finally, he was informed that his stroke had damaged his
motor control and no amount of rehab would correct his
drop foot. He was relentless in bringing back his right hand.
First with putty, then he found a spring, which he squeezed
constantly to regain strength in his hand.
Five more strokes followed. Most recently in October
2012. He was having breakfast, when all at once, he was
unable to raise his right arm and his right side went numb.
He was unable to walk. After another stay at Addison Gilbert
Hospital to stabilize his condition, he was transferred to New
England Rehab at the Hunt Hospital in Danvers. When he
was requested to do 10 reps of an exercise at the rehab, he
did 20 reps, sometimes 30. He was a star patient. His 87th
birthday was celebrated at New England Rehab.
CT scans revealed evidence of brain damage from
five strokes, yet Bob is an example: After suffering a
stroke, there is hope. With hard work and determination
life can improve. His doctors are in awe of Bob’s
courage to remain independent.
Virginia (Frontiero) MCKinnon, Caregiver
East Gloucester, Massachusetts
At age 64, my husband, Robert,
was working his dream retirement
job as a lock and draw bridge
tender. The little bridge house
was a social gathering place on