It has been nearly a year since Dennis "Denny" Hendricks experienced a stroke while driving his semi truck from Illinois to Boone, Iowa, along Highway 30. He had called his wife of 41 years, Janet, to tell her he didn't feel well, and she arranged for family members to meet him in Boone and immediately take him to the hospital in Jefferson, where he was transferred to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines.
From the moment he was admitted to Younker Rehabilitation for help recovering from his stroke, "I fell in love with every person I met!" said Denny.
Every day of Denny's recovery required a team effort. Mornings began with Karen, the occupational therapist, helping Denny to relearn how to bathe and dress himself. "She gave me suggestions on ways to get each item of clothing on," said Denny. Karen also taught him techniques on how to brush his teeth, comb his hair, and eat left handed.
Each of Denny's days at Younker Rehabilitation included occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. Denny and the therapists worked on activities most people would consider fun, such as putting puzzles together and putting pegs into boards, but according to Denny, "It wasn't fun by any means; it was challenging! Every day was busy. I kind of relished the weekends when they gave me a little time off!"
Once a week, Denny's team would meet together to discuss his goals and progress. His team of four to five people included his doctor, nurse, and several therapists. "They all seemed to be one big team," said Denny. "The staff kept me in the loop the whole time, and if I had an issue, they would resolve it quickly."
Denny has come a long way since his stroke in February of 2016. When he was admitted, "My right arm felt like it was nailed to my side," said Denny. "But now I can raise my arm above my head, even though it's still not very strong." Younker Rehabilitation staff told Denny he would see his biggest improvements in the first six months with continued improvement in the first year. After the first year, improvement would go more slowly, and some things may never get back to pre-stroke ability.
Denny admits to feeling frustrated that his recovery can be slow, but he continues to work toward recovery now that he has left Younker Rehabilitation and returned home. He has regular appointments in physical therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractor, psychiatry, horse therapy, pool/current therapy, and services through the VA. He admits that he has a long road ahead but is trying to stay positive: "It's been quite an adventure!"
Denny looks back with fondness on his time in Younker Rehabilitation: "Everyone from the housekeepers to the doctors, I loved them all! It was hard to say goodbye."