Meet Mark | A Spaulding Story of Strength
"Ambulance doors opened wide to single digit Arctic blasts. Layers of hospital blankets could not prevent my violent shivering. And I had a crushing headache.
'Honey? We’re here.' My wife Teri’s face suddenly came into view. 'This is Spaulding.'
It was February, 2014. Eight days before, I was life-flighted to Massachusetts General Hospital having survived a brain hemorrhage. I had been weightlifting at home.
A former career aviator flying in Navy fighters off carriers at sea, I was a 58-year-old dedicated athlete. On my last set of exercises, I inexplicably dropped the dumbbell from my right hand. When I tried to pick it up, my hand refused to grip and my forehead buzzed. I knew I was in more trouble at that moment than any of my years in the cockpit.
It only took one hour, on that Sunday night, to leave me paralyzed on my right side and speechless. I remember thinking, 'Oh, how the mighty have fallen.'
Therapists are angels on earth. Be it physical therapy, occupational or speech, every therapist has a special place in my heart for the selfless work they do. Spaulding’s therapy team took their profession to another level and gave tough love a brand-new meaning. They knew my limits before I did and successfully, patiently pushed me to do what I considered impossible!
Having been introduced to all three therapy disciplines at Mass General, I was surprised when Brian Harris knocked on my door during my second day at Spaulding. My headache was ferocious. One eye was slammed shut due to persistent double vision.
Armed with a guitar, Brian asked if I felt like singing! And – I’ll never forget this – I laughed out loud for the first time in 10 days. Didn’t he know? I was practically mono-syllabic! But Brian played anyway - The Wheels on the Bus. I hummed along, closing both eyes.
After a couple stanzas, I contributed a single word here or there. Before long, I could manage three words. Then four. Brian played simple children’s songs for 15 minutes and I discovered I could sing sentences. Both eyes opened when Brian said he had to go and asked if he could come back. My brain wanted to say 'absolutely!' yet I could only manage, 'Yes, please.'
But in only 15 minutes, Brian Harris and his guitar worked musical miracles. I said a sentence. Two words, but a sentence nonetheless. My double vision went away for a while and the headache was abated, somewhat. 15 minutes.
I spent more than five weeks at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Dr. Randy Black-Schaefer got my headaches under control. My therapy team, including Music Therapy, had me walking and talking – slowly – with movement returning to my right arm. I had hope for the future.
Five years later, the double vision is a distant memory. However, I will never forget those first 15 minutes of music therapy and that’s why I made a donation to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. It takes less than 15 minutes for you to give someone else hope for their future." ~ Mark Drake, Captain, USN (Ret)
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