On June 9, 2008, Carey Coley of Claxton, Georgia, got a headache. It took the 72-year-old by surprise. He had not experienced a headache since retiring from the corporate world 16 years earlier.
“It got worse and worse. I knew there had to be a reason for such a terrible headache. It was so bad, I called my wife, Glenda, at work,” said Coley.
Glenda’s instincts told her something was seriously wrong and she raced home. She was shocked to see how sick her husband looked. She took Carey’s blood pressure, which had skyrocketed to 288/188. She immediately drove him to Claxton Memorial Hospital. From there, he was put in an ambulance and rushed to Memorial University Medical Center (MUMC) in Savannah.
“The doctor in Claxton said to me, ‘Your husband is very critical. He might not survive the ride to Savannah,’” said Glenda.
Coley had a large blood clot pressing on his brain and needed immediate surgery to save his life. Neurosurgeon Kevin Ammar operated on him at MUMC. Ammar drilled two quarter-sized holes in Coley’s head to drain the bleeding and relieve the pressure on his brain.
When Coley woke up the next day, he could not walk, talk, or feed himself. The pressure on his brain had caused some damage, but it was not permanent. Coley was soon moved to The Rehabilitation Institute at MUMC to begin rebuilding his life. For the remainder of the month, he endured a rigorous rehabilitation process that included speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
“I received excellent care at The Rehabilitation Institute. Everybody was wonderful,” said Coley. He learned how to walk, climb stairs, get in and out of bed, speak, feed himself, and care for himself. He also practiced day-to-day skills such as grocery shopping at the mock grocery store located in the Rehabilitation Plaza.
“My therapist said I had to remember five items, go into the store, find the items, and buy them. I told them that when I’m at home, I at least get to take a list with me,” laughed Coley.
On June 30, Coley was ready to go home and continue outpatient therapy in Claxton.
Today, his bright blue eyes reveal a man who is enjoying life. He takes his granddaughter to school every morning, meets his friends for coffee, does yardwork, and spends time with Glenda. They’ve been married for 51 years and look forward to many more years together. The Coleys both say they would not have gotten through the ordeal without the care and support of the team at The Rehabilitation Institute, Dr. Ammar, and their loving friends and family.