Doye Miller believes his recent stroke was God’s way of telling him to slow down. Doye, 60, runs a 2,000 acre ranch in Tryon, Neb., works as a conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad and, is a husband, father and grandfather. “I’m a busy guy — always on the go,” said Doye.
On Jan. 10, Doye was 50 miles from home in North Platte, picking up supplies when he started feeling light-headed. Doye’s voice began slurring during a phone conversation with his wife, Vickie, who told him to get to the emergency room. By the time Vickie arrived, Doye’s mouth was drooping. When the tests results confirmed the stroke, it had completely paralyzed the right side of Doye’s body.
No longer able to walk or talk, Doye was frustrated when he admitted to Madonna a few days later. “I had trouble spitting out what I wanted to say,” said Doye.
Instead of herding cattle and switching boxcars, Doye’s primary focus became rehabilitation. Occupational, physical, and speech therapy filled his days. “It was all challenging and didn’t come easy,” said Doye, who admits to being stubborn. “But I have a lot of determination.”
Within a week, the rancher’s calloused hands were gripping a walker as he took his first steps. Technology, like the Madonna ICARE, restored Doye’s gait, strengthened his legs and brought him closer to his main goal of walking independently.
And Doye learned a lot about stroke.
“I never fathomed that a stroke was a brain injury,” said Doye. Solving simple puzzles and math games stretched his mind. “I felt like a two-year-old starting all over again.” But Doye was encouraged as the repetition of therapy increased his physical dexterity and brought his critical thinking skills to life.
By mid-February, Doye completed his inpatient therapy and started the Transitional Living Program (TLP). The program focuses on restoring independent living skills and returning to life roles, while maintaining a patient’s medical/rehabilitation needs on the subacute level. This reduces the average length of stay in acute rehabilitation, promotes exceptional outcomes and better prepares people to return to independent living at a lower overall cost.
“To qualify, patients must be medically stable, be able to direct their own care, tolerate several hours of daily therapy and have a community discharge plan in place,” said Karen Divito, director of rehabilitation programs. Since Medicare and Medicaid do not currently recognize the program, the patient must also have workers compensation, group health insurance coverage or agree to privately pay.
Doye lived for a month in the TLP housing unit on Madonna’s main campus that offers supervision 24/7. He participated in recreational outings and learned to cook for himself. “It’s a good concept to learn on your own, but with supervision,” said Doye, who appreciated the program being tailored to his interests. “I also realized it takes time to get you back to where you were before.”
The stroke made Doye rethink this next chapter of life on his ranch in the beautiful Sandhills. He’s made lifestyle changes — reducing stress and taking his medications. “I want to be healthy so I can be around to enjoy it.”