Helmetta, New Jersey, Woman Gives Back in Honor of the Team That Got Her Back on Her Feet After Stroke, Guillain-Barré Syndrome
August 20, 2021
Physical rehabilitation helps the body recover after a serious illness or injury, but it can restore much more than physical function. At its best, it also restores independence, confidence and community.
So was the case for 70-year-old Pam Krause of Helmetta, New Jersey. In May 2020, she went for a Sunday stroll past a pond near her home when she stopped to chit-chat with a fisherman. She began to feel ill, then fainted and cracked her head—or so she was told. All she remembers is waking up in the emergency room, where she was told she’d had a stroke.
Pam was transferred to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for several days of in-patient observation. While she was there, she had a spill on the way to the bathroom when her left leg suddenly failed beneath her. In addition to a stroke, she found out she had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare and rapidly progressive disease of the nerves that causes muscle weakness and paralysis. She declined quickly, losing the ability to eat, speak, sit, stand and walk.
After a month at Jersey Shore, Pam was transferred to JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, where she met physical therapist Hardeep “Nicki” Kaur, PT, DPT, CSRS, a clinical consultant in JFK Johnson’s inpatient rehab practice.
“God bless Nicki,” says Pam, who credits Nicki with helping her re-learn how to sit up, stand and even walk. “She was very encouraging. She knew exactly when to ease off and when to push me harder.”
Nicki made such a positive impression that Pam and her husband, Earl, recently made a gift to the Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation in her honor.
“My husband said to me, ‘Nicki got your life back,’ and he was right,” says Pam, who has regained her speech and can now walk with a cane—and sometimes even without one. As a result, she has gone from being bed-ridden to attending school plays, bridal showers and book club meetings, and even visiting the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, where she works in the media center during NASCAR races. “We wanted to do something for her to say thank you.”
Nicki was as surprised as she was touched. “I was definitely taken aback. It was amazing and very humbling,” says Nicki. “I loved Pam’s positive attitude. Right away she said to me, ‘I want to walk again.’ And little by little—with medicine, therapy and working together every day—we got there.”
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Phillip Castillo, RN, has a scar on the right side of his skull that curls like a question mark, a reminder of how little he used to understand about the plight of his patients in the stroke unit at JFK Medical Center.