Chris Sellman, Stroke Survivor

 

Chris Sellman and his wife, Sharon, were out one evening enjoying dinner and a show. As the show ended, Chris began to experience severe stomach pain. By midnight, he was in the emergency room, and within 20 hours, he had endured an attack of pancreatitis, cardiac arrest, kidney failure and septic shock, and had to have emergency bowel surgery.

After his surgery, Chris was placed in a medically induced coma to help him recover. After he came out of the coma, doctors discovered Chris had suffered a stroke. The stroke left him unable to talk and move his arms and hands. And because Chris could not communicate, they didn’t know he had no vision in his right eye, and very minimal vision in his left eye.

The Rehabilitation Process

As a result of the residual stroke effects, Chris would need to have inpatient neurologic rehabilitation. Sharon started researching options for Chris’ rehabilitation, and spoke with someone from Summerlin Hospital Medical Center. “He spent quality time with me and explained how and why their rehab would work,” says Sharon. “I knew after visiting that it would be the perfect fit for Chris.”

Chris was discharged from the hospital after a month and moved to Summerlin Hospital to start a four-week inpatient neuro-rehab program. By the end of the inpatient program, he was able to move his arms and hands and walk short distances with a walker. “My therapist, Freddie Mangosing, Jr., was amazing,” says Chris. “He was determined to get me up and moving around.”

Chris also praised the nurses who cared for him during his inpatient rehab. “The nursing staff was wonderful. If I had trouble sleeping, they would spend a little extra time talking to me and keeping my mind occupied. They also realized I was frustrated because I had to learn to talk again, and they were so patient with me,” he says.

Sharon says the level of therapy is what differentiates Summerlin Hospital’s program. “It wasn’t just token movements. You could see the progress day by day. I went to visit him after work one day, and he just stood up by himself and took a few steps and gave me a hug! It was the first time he did that since before his stroke and surgery,” Sharon says.

Chris continued with physical, occupational and speech therapy and for another year and a half as an outpatient. “By the time I finished rehab, I was able to walk a mile and a half with a white touch cane. I really don’t know where I would be without Summerlin Hospital. They took the darkness of night and turned it into the light of day, and that light just kept getting brighter,” says Chris.

Eventually, Chris was matched with his guide dog, Obie, and continued to gain strength through other therapies, such as stair climbing. Four years after his stroke, he participated in a fundraising event at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, where he stair-climbed 108 floors in 24 minutes, placing 143 out of 600 men. “That is the difference Summerlin Hospital makes,” says Sharon. “They took him from nothing, and now he is accomplishing so many things,” she says.

Volunteering at Summerlin Hospital

Another accomplishment for Chris was becoming a volunteer at Summerlin Hospital, helping stroke patients and their family members. “I am their cheerleader – I tell them they are ok, they are survivors and they are not alone. I encourage them when things are moving slow, to keep on going, that things will happen. Summerlin Hospital gave me my voice back, and now they can’t keep me quiet!”

Chris says. Chris and Sharon were also invited to be part of the hospital’s patient and family advisory council, which works to make improvements in the hospital. “My stroke was a gift from God,” says Chris. “So many wonderful things have happened to me. Summerlin gave me the tools to get my life back, and I am so blessed to share it with others.”

Learn more about stroke services at Summerlin Hospital