A Healing Chapter With Good Shepherd

March 25, 2024

This story first appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of Sweet Charity, a Good Shepherd publication.

Rushing into the courthouse for jury duty near her home in Washington, D.C., Suzanne Zweizig’s day veered dramatically off course when she collided headfirst with a glass wall.

The impact sent Suzanne crashing to the ground.

Soon after, a visit to urgent care revealed a concussion, which caused blurred vision and debilitating headaches. Coupled with vertigo and visual processing issues, Suzanne’s work as a writer, educator and business owner became impossible.

For the next six months, Suzanne sought help from medical professionals who gave her little hope. To make matters worse, she suffered an ankle injury that severely impacted her mobility. Frustrated with the lack of improvement in her physical health, Suzanne took advice from her Pennsylvania-based family, who brought her to Good Shepherd Rehabilitation for a consultation.

Recounting her first appointment at Good Shepherd, Suzanne described the hope she felt after months of uncertainty. Her doctor prescribed a tailored approach encompassing neurocognitive therapy, vision therapy and physical therapy for her head and neck injury. She temporarily relocated to the Lehigh Valley to attend therapy sessions at Good Shepherd three days a week

Suzanne also received a diagnosis for her ankle injury of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), a neurological condition that causes severe pain and swelling to the extremities and made walking difficult. Thanks to Good Shepherd’s expertise, Suzanne’s treatment for the RSD began quickly, with the Zero Gravity Treadmill and aquatic therapy to regain strength and mobility.

Coming to Good Shepherd in great pain and with little hope of getting her life back, Suzanne initially approached her therapies with a self-confessed “bad attitude,” easily frustrated and impatient.

“My therapists and care team were not fazed and continued to encourage me, finding ways to motivate me until I regained my positive way of thinking,” Suzanne said. “They met me where I was at.”

She describes how, during vision therapy, she often needed to lie down on the floor on her back to find relief from the headaches.

“Once, I remember, my vision therapist laid next to me and drew letters on the ceiling with a flashlight so I could finish my session in a comfortable way,” she said. “The empathy that showed impressed me and helped me start to trust they could help.”

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Gradually, Suzanne began to view her time at Good Shepherd not as an interruption, but as an opportunity for self-care and resilience. She dug in and started to see improvement, slowly but surely. Graduating from therapy one year later, she returned home to Washington, D.C.

Today, nine years post-accident, she has rebuilt her creative writing and tutoring business and published the first chapter of her memoir. She is even able to read again for extended times, a feat she once believed impossible.

Reflecting on her journey, Suzanne expressed gratitude for her Good Shepherd team.

“They gave me my life back,” she said. “The compassion that everyone showed me made all the difference.”

For more information about Good Shepherd’s comprehensive brain injury rehabilitation services, call 1.888.44.REHAB or contact us.