Steven Parisi worked every day of his adult life, sun up to sun down. Not one to slow down, he retired as a state trooper and now serves as the vice president of a concrete business with weekends reserved for chores on his farm. Vacations weren’t an option until a life-changing event gave Steven a new perspective on life.
One morning at work, Steven felt ‘off’ but brushed it off assuming it was vertigo. But after a couple days of feeling lightheaded and dizzy, Steven took his co-worker’s advice and went home early to sleep it off. However after arriving home, he called his doctor, described his symptoms and was urged to head straight to the emergency room.
Steven had extensive testing at Morristown Medical Center including a CAT scan, MRI and an angiogram that revealed he had a stroke.
Cascading symptoms over the next few days left him with no control over the right side of his body and rendered him unable to walk or stand. After he was stabilized, Steven discharged to Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation – Chester for specialized outpatient stroke rehabilitation.
He was determined to get the most out of his recovery. Upon arrival, his physician-led care team assessed his personal needs and developed a plan that allowed him to hit the ground running.
Steven worked with his physical therapists on exercises to rebuild his strength, balance and mobility. He recalled increasing his resistance on the functional electrical stimulation (FES) bike which provides low-level electrical stimulation to lower extremities through surface electrodes that promotes muscle movement: “I did 6.6 miles and wasn’t going to quit.” Similarly, his occupational therapists focused on improving his hand strength through exercises such as picking up a soda can. Steven recalls his biggest accomplishment was “the first day I was actually able to lift my toe up off the ground and I could never do that.”
His success is attributable to his rehabilitation care team, “if it wasn’t for them none of this would happen,” Steven said, adding “Every single person goes above and beyond to try and make you feel comfortable and push you as hard as you can knowing what your abilities are.”
Throughout his rehabilitation, Steven’s wife was his “rock.” She communicated with his friends and family, and his doctors since the day Steven entered the hospital. She also participated in Kessler’s education and training program in preparation for his return home.
Steven now offers advice for anyone in his position – take action if you feel something is wrong. “Don’t think that you’re invincible. Go to the doctor. Have them do the tests. Find out what’s going on because if you catch something early, you might survive it.”
Steven sums up his Kessler experience as “absolutely fabulous….You know you say five stars, but I’d rather give you ten. I can’t ask for anything better.”
Now, Steven is looking forward to continuing his recovery with outpatient therapy and enjoying life just a bit more. He’s planning a vacation with his wife.