Patient credits recovery after stroke to kind words and positive attitudes from therapists | Ascension

Patient credits recovery after stroke to kind words and positive attitudes from therapists

In July of 2021, Jimmy Heavrin's life changed forever.

As usual, the 41-year-old electrician and father of two came home from work. "I went to go inside, and my left leg just stopped working," Heavrin explains. He says he felt his right leg kick his left, causing him to trip and fall into the house. "The volunteer firefighter who was helping me kept telling me I had a stroke, but I didn't believe him. I kept saying, 'I just tripped'".

Heavrin says the next thing he remembers is waking up from what felt like the "world's longest nap." His wife told him he had a stroke and was being treated for it. They learned he couldn't use his left arm, and his speech was slurred. Sitting in a chair alone was difficult for Jimmy.

"It felt like the whole world was ending. I thought I was never going to get to do any of the stuff I liked to do again." Activities like hunting, lifting weights and playing with his boys. Going from living a very active life to lying in a hospital bed was difficult for Jimmy to experience and for his family to watch.

His first day in the rehabilitation center was the first time he thought he could get better. The therapists at Ascension St. Vincent’s Inpatient Rehab initiated what would end up being an excellent recovery. His therapists put him on a treadmill, " I was terrified, but I did it," Jimmy says. "The confidence the therapists had gave me hope."

Jimmy did more than 6 months of physical and occupational therapy at the Ascension St. Vincent Evansville YMCA Rehabilitation Center.

“It is hard to put into words what he accomplished,” Occupational Therapist Shanie Maurer says. “The day of our evaluation he looked at me and said ‘you and I are going to get this arm working’.

"They really pushed me," Jimmy says. “We would go for walks that challenged me. We'd walk over to the courthouse, and I'd walk up and down the stairs."

Now, life for Jimmy and his family is pretty much back to normal. He has returned to work as the electrical inspector for the City of Evansville. He's been able to take his children hunting and fishing again. "It feels pretty good to be able to do that. It was something I never thought I'd get to do again."

"I don't know how I could have done it without them. The encouraging words and helpfulness from my therapists kept me going," Jimmy says. "I'm grateful for them every day."

“His recovery has been an inspiration to all of us,” Shanie says.