On January 28, 2016, Jim’s active lifestyle suddenly and unexpectedly changed forever, as he faced the beginning of a difficult health journey that left him paralyzed on the right side of his body and unable to communicate.
“It all started when I was coming home from work one day,” Jim recalled. “I was having continuous headaches and my doctor at the time was cautious because my wife died of a brain tumor (in 2005).”
Jim’s doctor ordered a CAT scan. The day he went for the test is one he won’t soon forget.
“So one day after work I went to a walk-in clinic, and after I had the scan, a nurse came in and told me I wasn’t going home.”
Immediately, Jim was rushed to the emergency room and prepped for surgery. The CAT scan revealed he was suffering from an extensive brain hemorrhage that required urgent treatment.
“I actually thought the nurse was kidding at first when she told me,” he said. “As they were taking me to the hospital they started an IV and I told them I would like to call my kids.”
As family members began to arrive, the initial shock of his diagnosis was replaced with concern for his recovery. Despite the abrupt diagnosis, Jim’s surgery went well. Shortly after the operation, however, his health took a turn for the worse.
“I remember waking up and walking through the halls and thinking everything went okay,” he said. “Then the kids said I started acting strange and I don’t remember anything after that.”
Jim was again taken into surgery, where doctors discovered that he had developed a serious brain infection. Shortly after his second surgery, he suffered another brain hemorrhage, which ultimately led to a stroke. Following multiple surgeries and hospital stays, his health deteriorated as he faced a host of continuous medical complications.
After subsequent inpatient stays at several hospitals, Jim was transferred into long-term nursing care at Concordia at Cabot’s Lund Care Center in May of 2016. The fact that his daughter in law, Fallon Franz, works in human resources at the location, made the choice to come to Concordia an easy one.
Over the course of several years, he was faced with series of new challenges to overcome. Throughout everything, he remained positive, relying on his faith in God and the loving dedication of his family members to help him recover.
“I kept telling myself I was going to get through this,” Jim reiterated. “I would tell people it’s God that’s helping me out. You just have to have faith that sooner or later it’s going to work out. I’m grateful that there were a lot of people who were praying for me.”
During his stay at the Lund Care Center, he experienced the continuum of Concordia’s care, from skilled nursing to inpatient physical therapy. Each day, Jim worked with a team of dedicated staff and specialists to regain his strength, speech and mobility. Each day he continued to make progress.
“They were amazed at how far I’ve come,” he said. “Doctors told me I was never going to get any movement out of my right hand or arm again. Now I’m able to move it. I can open my hand. To them they’re amazed with that. I hope to be able to do more with it.”
On September 11, 2019, Jim went home for the first time in over two years. Not only has the current 61-year-old father, grandfather and outgoing volunteer successfully accomplished both of his personal goals, he also became an example of hope and healing to many members of his family and community. However, he remains adamant that his final goal - being able to fully use his right hand again – will come with time. For now, he enjoys visiting with his sons and three grandchildren.
Before his health complications began, the former 20-year volunteer firefighter, EMT and Youth Soccer Coach worked as a veteran Crane Operator at AK Steel Corporation for nearly 30 years in addition to raising three sons with his wife, Sheila. For two years he served as the Oneida Valley Fire Chief, and for three years, volunteered as an EMT. When he wasn’t saving lives, one of his favorite pastimes was coaching youth soccer.
“It brings tears to my eyes what everyone at Concordia did for me,” Jim explained. “There are so many people I want to thank that I don’t even know. That’s how many people have touched my heart. Without them, I wouldn’t be here today.”
For more information about how Concordia’s skilled nursing care can help you or a loved one recover from a serious illness or injury at our locations in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio and Tampa, Florida, visit the locations page of our website to find a campus near you. Call our headquarters any time for more information at 724-352-1571.
Learn even more about Jim’s remarkable story, including the year and a half he spent at Concordia at Cabot Personal Care, in the December 2019 edition of Faith in Caring magazine.