What started as a trip for a family celebration of Passover turned into an eight-month journey of treatment, care, and recovery for noted author and professor emeritus Arnold A. Offner.
Arnie’s wife, Ellen, jumped into action when Arnie experienced intense fatigue and shoulder and neck pain after a long drive from their Newton, MA, home to the Connecticut Shoreline to visit family. A series of emergency department visits and tests identified Arnie’s condition as an aortic dissection—a rare, serious, and often-fatal heart condition—and two surgeries ultimately saved his life. But his road to recovery was far from over. Arnie was admitted to Spaulding Charlestown in early June, almost two months after his ordeal began.
“I was propelled by the people around me at Spaulding,” says Arnie. “Seeing them, I knew I could get better.” He got stronger daily, transitioning from using a wheelchair to a walker, and regaining his strength to complete activities of everyday living. Arnie got outside to walk on the promenade daily as part of his rehabilitation (though he admits to figuring out a shortcut in the route!). Through all his challenges, Arnie says he improved in part because his Spaulding therapists “wouldn’t quit on me.”
One member of his care team made a particularly special impression. Arnie’s nursing assistant Hermine “adopted” him, providing companionship and help—especially in the quiet evenings when Ellen had to return home. Thankful for her support, the couple nominated Hermine for employee of the month, an honor she subsequently received.
Arnie returned to his home in Newton, continuing his rehabilitation with the help of Partners HealthCare at Home and eventually outpatient therapy at Spaulding Wellesley. When the couple relocated to a warmer climate for the winter months, Arnie was able to walk a mile and a half in the Florida sunshine each day.
“Every step of the way, it was reassuring to have seamless transitions along the continuum of care: from primary care, to acute care, to rehabilitation, to home care and outpatient rehabilitation,” says Ellen. “We received great care everywhere we went in the Mass General Brigham system.”
“My ongoing recovery has been virtually miraculous,” says Arnie. “I am ever grateful to the many people who have supported me in this journey.”
Spaulding staff arranged for a book signing for Arnie’s biography of Hubert Humphrey: The Conscience of the Country.
Arnie enjoying the sunshine outside Spaulding Charlestown.
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At a time when scientific advancements can help make the impossible possible, an investment in rehabilitation medicine has never been more necessary—or more promising.
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