When Anthony Runnels had back surgery on July 1, he was certain it was going to improve his quality of life. After years of living with lower back pain, Runnels underwent lumbar spinal fusion at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Plano. Following a successful recovery from his back surgery, Runnels moved forward with another surgery in October—this time on his neck. He quickly realized that his recovery from the second surgery would not be as easy as the first.
On October 26, Runnels felt a burning sensation in his legs. His wife immediately called his surgeon in Plano who set up an appointment. Although it was difficult to move, Runnels remembers being able to get in the car by himself. But when they arrived in Plano, Runnels had trouble getting out of the car. By the time his appointment was over, he had lost all feeling in his legs.
Runnels was admitted to the hospital once again. Even as his doctors ran tests, they were unsure what was causing his sudden regression. He began receiving therapy in Plano, but it was difficult for his wife to travel back and forth from their home in Greenville. It was then that he decided to seek treatment at Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville.
“When I got there I couldn’t walk or do anything on my own,” said Runnels, adding that while in Plano, he fell and fractured his wrist, making his treatment even more difficult and limiting his ability to grip.
“I couldn’t even move the wheelchair with my hands,” he said.
Runnels began his stay as a patient in the acute rehabilitation unit at HRMC in November 2015. To his surprise, Dr. William Winn, rehab medical director, didn’t think he needed surgery. While his previous medical team felt that surgery was his best option at recovery, Dr. Winn thought that an invasive surgery would only lead to more setbacks. Instead, a treatment plan was developed to include multiple intensive therapy protocols.
“At first, they had me use a regular walker and I could only go about 25-50 feet. Then I used the platform walker and could go 300 feet a day,” said Runnels.
“With their help, I began to walk,” he said.
His therapy included hand and leg exercises, weight-shifting, knee raises, marching, stair therapy, and learning to properly regain his balance. However, he says the best part of his patient experience was his interaction with the therapy staff.
“I appreciate the motivation they gave me and their determination to help me recover,” he said, naming therapists Clarissa, Christopher, Clara, and Joe by their first name as if they were old friends.
“Joe helped me a lot. A whole lot. And so did my faith in the Lord,” he said.
After a 42-day stay at Hunt Regional, Runnels was discharged not in a wheelchair, but on his own two feet. Now at home, Runnels is walking on his own and continuing his recovery through the help of home health therapists.
“I’m so happy to be mobile and am determined to keep getting better,” said Runnels.
“I would have stayed 35 more days if they would have let me,” he said.