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Patrick and his wife, Ginny, are celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary on July 9, 2017, much in part because of Patrick’s will to overcome obstacles, and Ginny’s loving support.

Years ago, Patrick, Ginny and their three children were living in Bryan, Texas. Patrick’s cardiologist told him he would eventually need heart surgery because it wasn’t functioning the way it should.

For three years, Patrick had his heart evaluated twice a year. Then the family moved to Hewitt, Texas, so Patrick switched doctors.

Image of Patrick

His new care team said it was time to operate, and they scheduled his surgery for a few weeks later in October of 2016. Patrick reflected back and said he is glad he does not remember the details leading up to the surgery; he just knows he had good people caring for him.

Patrick had three bypasses and an aortic valve replacement. During surgery, he had serious complications.

Ginny recalls that Patrick’s heart stopped, he was put on a heart and lung machine, many different interventions to help his excessive bleeding and finally a series of mini-strokes that resulted in a third surgery. Patrick had an uphill battle for recovery.

Patrick was transferred to four different hospitals in the first nine weeks, and said he wasn’t fully able to recognize his wife or children for the first six weeks.

Ginny stayed in the hospital by Patrick’s side through it all.

Image of Ginny

“She was very patient with me,” Patrick said. “She would take a break every now and again. I don’t blame her—go out and get something to eat. But she stayed with me for the most part in the hospital, and she was great company.”

Patrick’s family also visited often.

“My daughter was living here, so she spent as much time as she could from work to come check up on me,” Patrick said. “And my sons had come down during the surgery.” 

Then, Patrick came to Kindred.

“You’re going to have to go through a period of time where your brain has to recover,” Patrick said. “It doesn’t fix itself where it’s damaged, that’s done. You have to allow time for your brain to reacclimatize to do the things you want to do, using a different part of your brain. That’s not an easy journey.”

He needed physical therapy to help regain his strength, as well as other therapies such as occupational therapy for hands and motion.

“They gave me what they call, speech therapy,” Patrick said. “Which is kind of a misnomer to me. It really doesn’t have a lot to do with speech, it was everything to do with your cognitive skills; your memory; and your ability to solve problems, recognize issues and that sort of thing.”

Patrick is an engineer at a power plant. For him, it’s more than just a job, it’s a passion. Getting back into his routine with work was difficult. He was having trouble with short-term memory, and all of the computer programs he was using were more difficult to navigate than before.

“He thought I worked at the power plant,” Ginny said of Patrick before he was fully remembering faces. “There were a lot of days where he’d say ‘take this to the power plant, this data that I’m collecting’ and I’d say, ‘OK, but I can’t go to the power plant, I’m your wife, not your employee.’ It was kind of frustrating some days when that would happen.”

Patrick’s speech therapy team used his job description, resume and sample work to make recommendations on exercises and things to practice. Patrick said his boss was amazed with his progress in a short amount of time.

Patrick said he enjoys his speech therapy. His favorite exercise is when his therapist tells him 16 words to remember, distracts him for five minutes and then asks him to repeat the 16 words again.

“They make it fun, they really do. And I ask for homework,” Patrick said. “I do enjoy the puzzles and all kinds of things they make me work through.”

Eventually, Patrick was physically able to begin enjoying the things he loved again—like driving from Texas to Michigan to meet their new granddaughter.

Patrick and Ginny attend senior banquets on Thursday evenings. Recently, their group was discussing an episode of the Johnny Carson Show. A couple was celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary. Johnny asked them if they’d ever considered divorce in the marriage—they said no. He asked again, have you ever considered murder—the wife said yes—and the audience erupted into laughter.

“That’s the kind of thing I really look forward to, kind of reviewing the things we’ve done together” Patrick said. “We’ve done a lot of camping, we’ve done some traveling, we went to England once, we went to Hawaii on our honeymoon and stopped into San Francisco on the way out. We’ve had a pretty good life so far, and I really look forward to spending a lot more of it with her, if she’ll put up with me.”

Image of Patrick and Ginny reviewing their wedding album