Helpful. Caring. Thoughtful. Thorough. Patient. Compassionate. Those are the words that come to mind for Joe and Cathy Wise of Morrison when they think of Joe’s care team from Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice.
In November 2021 Joe Wise, pharmacist and owner of Wise Pharmacy in Littleton, had just sold his store and was getting ready for retirement. He recalls, “I’d been filling prescriptions for COVID for 20-30 doctors and was the only one that could fill them, so I’d been under a lot of stress. One morning I woke up and was laying on the bed, and I knew something was wrong with my face. I tried to get up, but I was a bit wobbly, so I knew I was having a stroke. I called Cathy [his wife] immediately. She got the ambulance here right away.”
After 10 days at Swedish Medical Center, Joe was transferred to Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital in Aurora. “So we were down at Spalding which is on the east side of Denver. I didn’t even know that Mount Evans existed,” says Joe.
“The neighbors told us about how wonderful Mount Evans was,” explains Cathy. Joe continues, “So we called them immediately because the people down in Denver sometimes don’t drive up to the mountains. And that was very good to know that they were local and to be connected with them.”
“When I came home, I was a little tentative because I wasn’t very stable. We had a nurse, speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy from Mount Evans, they were all good and very helpful,” says Joe.
“When you’re limited at getting around, it’s very hard to load up everything and drive to some place, so this was helpful to have therapy at home,” explains Joe. “Plus it was useful to know the limitations of myself in the house with the stairs or with whatever I need to do.”
Cathy remarks, “One of the first things that Heidi [Terrell, Mount Evans Occupational Therapist,] did was say you don’t want that rug there or there. And we didn’t even think about how dangerous it could be with his walker or with his leg that is weak, so it was little things.”
Heidi explains, “As Occupational Therapists, we look at what we can do to maximize their independence and modify the environment, so they can safely recover in their own home. In Joe’s case, that meant strengthening his upper body so that he could maneuver his walker safely when transitioning from sitting to standing.”
Joe recalls, “The therapists would come in and go through an hours’ worth of exercises. Then they’d leave me with additional exercises. I wanted to be able to move around more easily and to be able to walk with a cane. I wanted to be able to get downstairs to ride my stationery bicycle. I had a Wallenberg stroke which is on the right side, so I was weaker on my right side than my left, so I had to work on that.”
“The primary goal that I had was to be able to swallow and eat because I’m fed through a tube right now. So I wanted to focus on speech and swallowing and eating if possible,” explains Joe. “Emily [Deutschmann, Mount Evans Speech-Language Pathologist] was organized, disciplined, and challenging. She stretched and challenged you to achieve more than you thought you could do.”
“Joe was a great candidate for speech therapy because he was so invested in his therapy,” explains Emily. “We had a great give and take. I’d give him an idea, and he’d provide feedback and ask questions so he’d know what was going on.”
“And they would talk together and help each other with the care, they weren’t just independent,” says Joe. Cathy agrees, “Oh, That was wonderful, and I didn’t even think about that part at the beginning.”
Joe acknowledges, “I want to be able to be like I was before the stroke that’s gonna be awhile, I realize. But I just want to get better, so I can do things more independently like shovel snow and cut wood.”
Cathy chimes in “And our walks.”
“Yes,” Joe looks at her and smiles.
Whether you’re recovering from an illness or surgery, living with a chronic or progress illness, or ready for end-of-life care, Mount Evans will be here to care for you in the comfort of your own home, surrounded by those you love.