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Realizing Your Full Potential to Serve

by Janet D.

Shortly after I joined the USDA five years ago, my husband, Bruce, suffered a massive stroke at the age of 42. It was touch and go for five days before I learned that he would survive. But there was no telling how bad his deficits would be since the stroke hit his midbrain; the center where sight, sound, temperature control, reason and mobility intertwine. When he was first brought out of his coma, he couldn't even see me. I knew things were bad but trusted in God, my husband and his doctors to restore some function back to him.

After one month in inpatient rehabilitation, he was released to come home. The stroke left him with cognitive and balance deficits, and worst of all double vision. His doctor placed him in outpatient physical, occupational, and speech rehabilitation at Prince William Hospital Center, which by Divine Intervention is located directly across the street from my duty station at the USDA Monitoring Programs Office.

For the first two and a half years, I had to run back and forth from work to home to pick up my husband for therapy 3 times a week and stay with him to support him with the activities he needed to relearn in hopes of regaining a somewhat normal life. I could never have done that without the support and understanding of my fabulous supervisors and coworkers. Often they changed schedules or took one of my assignments in order to accommodate my needs.

After two and a half years, the Rehab Department made him an ad hoc auxilian in their department 3 times a week. Bruce would do any task he could do to help them from changing beds to weighing modeling clay. I still would go back home to pick Bruce up 3 times a week but I would drop him off, go back to work and pick him back up afterwards. After 6 months Bruce was accepted officially into the Prince William Hospital Auxiliary. He serves 2 days in Rehab and 1 day in Surgical Services every week. To date, he has contributed over 500 hours of service to the hospital.

The hospital staff did so much for Bruce's recovery that I decided that I needed and wanted to give back something to them. So, on my regular day off every two weeks I serve as an official Prince William Hospital Auxilian in the Pharmacy Department. I have logged in over 100 hours so far. I know that it isn't much and I won't catch up to Bruce, but I still get an overwhelming sense of satisfaction to be able to give something back to a hospital whose dedicated employees worked so hard to give Bruce his life back. They gave me my life back too.

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