It was just like any other night: Mallorey Long read her two-year-old son Liam a story and tucked him into bed as he fell asleep.
“All of a sudden, I was on the floor and didn’t know what to do,” says Mallorey. “In my head I was like, ‘What is going on?’”
“I came upstairs and found her,” remembers Joe, Mallorey’s husband, who had just come home from work. “She couldn’t move or talk.”
Joe hollered for Janet, Mallorey’s mother, to take care of Liam while he hurried to meet the ambulance on the highway. They rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose.
Within seconds, it was determined that 29-year-old Mallorey had suffered a stroke.
The family agrees that Mallorey’s stroke was unexpected and scary. “Mallorey didn’t smoke, drink or eat unhealthy food. She would exercise all the time,” says Janet. “The only thing that may have been the cause was Mallorey’s birth control. But we still don’t know for sure.”
For two months, Mallorey attended rehabilitation sessions at both St. Mary’s and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. During that time, she went from being immobile to being able to move all of her limbs.
When Mallorey returned home, she still needed some extra support. She feels fortunate the Early Supported Discharge (ESD) team from St. Mary’s met with her and her family right away.
“Our goals are functional, which means they are relevant for the person,” says Christina Rebus, Speech Language Pathologist at St. Mary’s. “In our first meeting, Mallorey indicated that she was frustrated by not being able to read, say nursery rhymes or speak to her son.”
That’s when the ESD team had the idea that reading stories to Liam could be one of Mallorey’s goals.
For eight weeks, ESD team members visited Mallorey at her home five times a week to help her learn how to read, cook and exercise again. Janet says her daughter improved from pointing at the pictures in the books to reading more words to Liam.
“It was really good that they came out every day and helped us,” smiles Janet. “Getting help in the hospital isn’t the same as when you have somebody come to your home, in your own environment. I could see improvement every day. Now, even though the team isn’t visiting us anymore, I can still see she’s getting better.”
It’s been seven months since her stroke, but Mallorey’s positive attitude keeps her going. Rather than focusing on foot and leg pain, she is once again attending aquafit and yoga classes. She hopes to drive and return to her job at H&R Block in the next year. “It’s coming along,” smiles Mallorey. “ESD is a miracle.”
Despite the changes and challenges the family has faced, Mallorey’s most important job is being a mom, and to Liam, that has never changed. “He’s too young to really realize everything that has happened,” says Janet. “But to him, Mallorey is just Mom. Always Mom."
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