Patient Makes Amazing Comeback from Heart Attack, Brain Injury and Amputation
February 10, 2014, started out like any other day for Jean Eisenhart. She drove to work at the café at the Bethlehem Wegmans, where she had worked for the past 15 years. Soon after arriving, she felt like she was coming down with something and asked her manager if she could go home. And that’s all she remembers about that day.
Shortly after feeling ill, Jean abruptly fell to the floor. A co-worker who was a first responder found Jean’s heart had stopped and revived her with CPR, keeping her alive until the ambulance arrived. Her daughter, Kim, arrived at the hospital to find her mom had suffered a heart attack, a traumatic brain injury from the fall and an anoxic brain injury from lack of blood flow to the brain during the heart attack.
Unfortunately, Jean’s condition went from bad to worse when a blood clot formed in the arteries of her right leg. Despite multiple surgeries, doctors were unable to save her leg, which had to be amputated below the knee.
When Jean became aware of her situation, she realized she had two choices: to give in to her despair or to accept what had happened and be positive about her recovery. She chose the latter and never looked back. After two weeks in an acute care hospital, Jean was released to the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital in Allentown to begin her recovery.
She was outfitted with a shield to protect the amputation site and began using a walker. Physical, occupational and speech therapists worked with her to help her with activities of daily living as well to improve her memory difficulties associated with the brain injury.
“Mom’s therapists at Good Shepherd were unbelievable – compassionate, thorough and helpful,” says Kim. “They pushed my mom, but no further than she could go. At some point during her stay at Good Shepherd, people began to call her ‘Wonder Woman.‘ She encouraged the other patients to do their best as well.”
The care management staff at Good Shepherd worked with Jean to have her admitted to a nursing home following her inpatient stay so that she could receive her prosthesis and learn to use it before returning home to her two-story house. Jean worked with James Daley, MD, Good Shepherd’s assistant medical director and lead physician for Prosthetic and Orthotic Rehabilitation, who fitted her for a temporary prosthesis and who will soon work with her to receive a permanent one.
“Dr. Daley was so thorough and explained everything in terms I could understand,” says Jean. “When I first got the prosthesis, I asked him if I would be able to dance again, and he said there was no reason why not.”
“Jean is a remarkable woman with a great attitude,” says SuAnn Chen, MD, medical director of Good Shepherd’s Brain Injury Program and one of Jean’s physicians during her inpatient stay. “She was able to return home and is now living independently. She is definitely a super hero to me.”
At age 68 Jean is looking forward to one day being able to drive again and perhaps even returning to work.
“Our family had never been exposed to this kind of health crisis,” says Kim. “We are so glad to still have mom – she is the best mother someone could ask for. And we are very grateful for the care she received at Good Shepherd. ”