Paul Tol's story
While watching TV one evening, Paul Tol began to experience chest pain and shortness of breath. The 64-year old widower called 911 and was rushed to Chilton Hospital, where his fears were confirmed. He was having a heart attack. Tests revealed extensive damage to his heart and he was transferred to Morristown Medical Center to undergo delicate triple-bypass surgery and valve repair.
The surgery left Paul weak and debilitated. “I couldn’t do anything. I was in the ICU … bedridden for nearly a month. I needed help just to move or sit up.”
Once his condition stabilized, Paul chose Kessler Institute for his rehabilitation, not only because of the good things he had heard about the hospital from family and friends, but also “because they offered medical services and rehabilitation at the same time.”
Paul, a retired cable technician, was determined to regain his strength and independence. To support his cardiac recovery and address his neuromuscular weakness, known as critical illness myopathy, his physician-led team of nurses, therapists and other specialists put together a comprehensive treatment plan.
“When I got to Kessler, I couldn’t walk or even talk that well. It took three people just to get me to stand at the parallel bars. But each day, my physical therapists pushed me as far as I could go, without overdoing it. I actually enjoy being pushed! They were all very knowledgeable and committed to helping me reach my goal to walk again,” Paul said.
Similarly, Paul’s occupational therapists helped him relearn everyday skills, like shaving, grooming, and dressing, and how to use assistive equipment, such as a sock aide. They also provided energy-saving strategies to help him perform basic tasks more efficiently. Speech therapists worked with him to build vocal strength, clarity and articulation.
Paul’s medical needs were carefully monitored by his Kessler physicians, along with the rehabilitation nurses who also helped him manage medications and reinforced the skills he learned in therapy.
Paul admits the first time he took a few steps with his walker “really made my day. I never thought it would happen. It was a dream come true. I really didn't think I would walk again, but I did and little by little, I was able to go even farther.”
Encouraged by his siblings, Paul worked tirelessly toward his goals. “My sister coached me through the tough times and my brother just kept telling me to try, to give it my all. Their support made a world of difference.”
Paul noted that he’s had to learn to do things differently and that while some tasks may take a little longer to complete, he’s continuing to do more and more on his own. “The Kessler team helped me more than I could have imagined. Everyone was pleasant and informative. I felt they treated me like family … couldn’t have treated me better.”
Upon discharge, Paul said that he was not going to give up or go back, but rather “get up, get out and get busy” doing the things he most enjoys.