The Bellingham Bulletin — March 2010
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Hill Steadily Progressing After Suffering Debilitating Stroke

In August 2009 The Bulletin reported that Steven

T. Hill, a 33-year-old Bellingham resident, had suffered a massive stroke while vacationing in Jamaica with his wife, Tanya. We are happy to print this new story to update you on the great progress he has made. Since our last story, Steven came home from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston on August 12, 2009. At that time he was walking with a quad cane, he had very little speech, and his right hand and arm were still paralyzed.

He continued in-home with occupational, physical, and speech therapies from the VNA care network and required 24-hour supervision. Tanya’s mother, Lynda Van House (an LPN), came from her home in upstate New York and stayed with them until mid-October. Steven continued to do well with in-home therapy, graduating to a straight cane, saying some short phrases, and gaining minimal movement in his arm. His hand still remained paralyzed.

After being rescheduled several times, the surgery to replace a bone flap to his skull finally occurred, successfully, on November 2, 2009. Steven had to stay in the hospital for another week thereafter to bring his Coumadin levels up to a therapeutic range. He will be on Coumadin, a blood-thinning medication, for the rest of his life to control his clotting disorder.

After returning home from the surgery, he had in-home therapy for another week and then graduated to attending outpatient therapy at Spaulding Framingham, where he goes almost every day to continue with all three therapies. The therapists there have helped him make great progress. He now walks without a cane and is saying longer phrases and sentences. His arm is still the same, but he now has a little movement in the fingers. In the past few years some exciting technology has come out in electro-stimulation. For example, a new device from Bioness is used to retrain the muscles of the arm and hand to pre-stroke condition. Steven is in the process of getting one of these devices to help with his ongoing therapy.

He still requires almost around-the-clock care, but thanks to his mom, his aide Lisa, and Tanya, he is taken good care of and is starting to become a little more independent. He can even be left alone while Tanya does errands and grocery shops. The short-term goal is to have him be independent. Currently he still needs meal preparation and rides to therapy. His therapists feel that Steven can make almost a full recovery.

It will still be a long and tiring journey for him, but looking at his smile and the determination in his eyes, one can see that he has already signed on for it.

In May of this year, Steven, Tanya, and Steven’s parents will travel back to the hospital in Aventura, Florida, where Steven was air-ambulanced to from Jamaica and spent fouWeeks in the ICU before being air-ambulanced back to Boston last June. The hospital is sponsoring a fair for “National Stroke Awareness Month,” at which Tanya will be speaking. They are hosting a luncheon for Steven and will invite the whole team of doctors, nurses, aides, and everyone else who was involved in his case. Steven does not remember his time in Florida, so this will give him a chance to thank all of the great people who saved his life. They are all looking forward to seeing him WALK into their hospital. Tanya says, “We met some pretty incredible people down there and can’t wait to visit.” The hospital won an award for their stroke program from the American Heart Association, and they have asked the Hills if they can use Steven’s story in conjunction with this for their 2010 community report.

The Steven T. Hill Stroke Foundation, created by his sister Kelly, is going strong. The foundation hosted several successful events, such as a golf tournament in September, “Strokes for Stroke”; a turkey trot in November; “Strides for Stroke,” a fundraiser put on by Steven’s co-workers at The Times, in Boston; and just recently a Step by Step dance studio production entitled “A Little Monkey in All of Us,” with all proceeds going to the foundation. The foundation is enabling Steven to get the care and equipment he needs to make a full recovery, and the outpouring of support from friends, family, and strangers has been overwhelming. To stay updated on Steven’s progress and to participate in upcoming events, visit www. Channel 5 news did two new stories on Steven last year, one while he was in Florida and one on the night of his return to Boston. They just did another update, which aired on February 15. If you would like to view the update, check out the link on the foundation website.