Carolyn Whalen

It was a beautiful day in August. A busy week was in store for Carolyn Whalen, which was nothing short of typical.

Carolyn felt relatively well, despite being a little sore from a car accident two days prior. She went about her day as usual, backing her truck up to a hitch – something she’d done countless times with little effort needed.

On her first attempt, Carolyn missed. She knew right away, something was wrong – this had never happened before. “I pulled forward to try again, felt light-headed, and before you knew it, I was unable to coordinate my movements,” she recalled. “I had a stroke.”

Alone in her truck with no one in sight, Carolyn made numerous attempts to call for help but was unsuccessful. She tried desperately, for nearly an hour, to coordinate her fingers to her cell phone and call 911, but was unable.

“My face was numb, the right side of my body was affected, and I was sweating profusely.”

Finally reaching a 911 dispatcher, Carolyn’s frustrations only continued. “My voice was completely gone as I tried to make a sound to ask for help, only to have the dispatcher hang up. She couldn’t hear me.”

Carolyn tried, again and again, to somehow contact a 911 dispatcher. “I finally got through and before you knew it, I was surrounded by EMTs, firefighters, and paramedics who took me to the nearest hospital.”

Upon completion of an examination, lab testing, and a CT scan, Carolyn was admitted to her local Kaiser hospital. There, Dr. Akbar confirmed her stroke. He recommended a transfer to San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital for inpatient stroke rehabilitation.

Carolyn’s inpatient therapy produced great results. She approached each therapy session with a strong conviction to get better. Her parents, husband, and children provided a support system for her recovery. Day after day, Carolyn made progress.

“I had faith in the therapists and doctors to let them help me and get me to the next level,” Carolyn stated.

That next level was outpatient therapy at SJVRH. There, Carolyn continued working with her occupational and physical therapists. They set new goals, such as improving endurance, fine motor skills, and overall strength to help her get closer to the independent life she once lived.

As Carolyn approached her last day at SJVRH outpatient therapy, she shared one additional thought on her progress. “One of my doctors said it may take a year before I drive again. But I proved him wrong because, today (eight weeks post-stroke), I’m driving already.”