Beating the odds: Rehabilitation patient goes from bedridden to mobile

LAGUNA HEIGHTS — Margarita Rosales is living proof of the power of prayer and the difference aggressive rehabilitative therapy can make for a patient.

By the time Rosales was admitted in June to South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital in Brownsville, she had been confined to her bed for three years. She had long since become dependent on her provider to feed and bathe her, and for that matter to keep her alive. She had even lapsed into a diabetic coma.

“I was very depressed. I didn’t eat. I didn’t drink. I was not taking my medication. Finally, my sister told me I had to eat,” Rosales said Thursday as she sat on the edge of her bed in Laguna Heights, talking about how she had gotten to the hospital, begun to recover and returned home.

“Little by little you start giving up hope,” she said. “When the people would come from the church to pray for me, I couldn’t stand it. I wouldn’t want anything to do with it.”

But Rosales said God was helping her find her way back all along. Eventually, a couple from the Abundant Life Church in Los Fresnos, where she is a member, took her to the emergency room.

“When I woke up I was all clenched up,” she said bringing her clenched fists under her chin. “I couldn’t move.”

Rosales said she only received Medicare to the extent it would pay for a provider. “Medicare didn’t want to help me. I didn’t have kids and I’m not married, so I was in bed almost three years … but little by little God was helping me.”

Eventually she got her Medicare, and a clinic in Port Isabel referred her to South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital. That was in April. By then she weighed 320 pounds.

“I was a very big person. It was hard for them,” she said.

Gilbert Diaz, a clinical liaison and nurse at STRH, said when Rosales arrived at the hospital, her positive spirit was evident.

“From the beginning you could see in her face that she was not going to stay stuck,” he said. “She couldn’t do much on the bed, so for her to do what she is doing now is amazing,” Diaz said. “She’s regained the strength in her arms and her hands. She’s regained her balance. … She’s progressed quite a bit, to the point she can use a wheelchair now and can use the walker. She can take a real shower.”

Then they brought her the walker. Tentatively at first, and then with confidence, she stood and moved herself across the room. Doing that reminded her of the time a few weeks ago that she and her provider, Rosa Elvia Gonzalez, went to the H-E-B in Port Isabel for the first time in a long time.

The two met years ago, and she was even a witness at Gonzalez’s wedding.

“I zoomed away (on the H-E-B scooter.) It was fun, but of course we always have fun when we’re together. It had been a long time since I’d seen the prices, so that was a surprise,” she said.

South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital takes a team approach to therapy “and it’s not just doing exercises. We have a 6,000 square-foot gym and a therapeutic swimming pool,” said Letty Mann, the director of Marketing and Business Development. “Our specialty is the therapy.”

Rosales said she doesn’t eat like she used to. She lost about 100 pounds when she was on a feeding tube. Her advice to someone facing problems like the ones she faced: Don’t lose hope and always have faith.

“I’ve come a long way, sir. “But it’s through God’s help” she said.