"I am a lucky man in so many ways."
“Here comes Moses!” said BMC physical therapist Patricia Fitzpatrick with a smile. One of her prized patients, 56-year-old Jeffrey Gray, an alpaca and llama farmer from Sandisfield, ambled confidently into the hospital’s rehabilitation gym, using a hand-carved wooden staff.
Jeff is one of hundreds of stroke patients who each year undergo comprehensive occupational and physical rehabilitation at BMC. It’s a basic retraining regimen that combines gentle encouragement and firm coaching.
Jeff Gray has had an interesting, active life. For the past 10 years, he and his wife Sonja have operated Red Barn Alpacas in Sandisfield, a 50-acre farm with a herd of 33 alpacas. Their coats are shorn each spring to produce fiber, yarn, and a line of clothing that includes hats, scarves, gloves, and socks. Jeff is also a Sandisfield selectman.
It was a typical Saturday on the farm in late October when Jeff decided to take a quick nap after a morning of tree cutting. “I went to get up, and my leg was like pins and needles and kind of heavy. I didn’t think too much of it at first. I figured it was just asleep.”
His wife happened to return home at that time. “Then I noticed my arm felt heavy and it just dropped down.”
An ambulance was summoned to the house and Jeff began a journey that began with fear and concern, but culminated in great relief, thankfulness, and recovery.
“I never thought, especially at my age, that I’d be going through something like this,” said Jeff, echoing the experience of many otherwise healthy, robust people who, for one reason or another, suffer strokes. Fortunately, though his stroke put him in intensive care for several days, Jeff progressed from partial paralysis on one side to nearly full mobility and discharge within a month.
“I’m a lucky man in so many ways,” he said, crediting everyone from the EMTs who brought him to BMC, to the Emergency Department staff who initially treated him, to the ICU professionals who managed those first crucial days of recovery, and to the rehabilitation staff who coached him through discharge.