As an insulin diabetic since age 14, in my mid forties I started experiencing retinal issues. In 2003, I suddenly experienced a retinal detachment. Surgery was immediately performed. Three surgeries in all in three months. During the third surgery there was a complication. I woke up a week later, having had a stroke during surgery, from a coma lasting several days and had lost sight in my left eye. I was unable to move anything on my left side, unable to stand and walk and not able to accurately communicate my thoughts when speaking. I had opened a Pilates studio in 1997 and was teaching Pilates at the time this happened. After a two-week stay in the hospital where the physical therapist was unable to help me, I was released.
At first I did not want to be seen, but my husband made me get up and walk short and then longer distances with him. I had a frozen shoulder, so an outside physical therapist told me that as a Pilates instructor I already knew what to do to help myself. He was right. I had Pilates equipment in my home, so I began my own “rehab” there. With only one eye left, I had no depth perception. I had to learn how to function without depth perception and how to regain balance and control of my own body. I had to regain the strength I had lost. After six months I was fitted with a prosthetic eye and returned to teach in my own studio. My brain, as I was told, had rewired itself, so I had to relearn to cue properly. More determined to move, I resumed ballroom dancing in conjunction with Pilates and began competing.
Pilates helped enhance my dancing and once again I felt whole. In the years since my stroke, I have completed a program with Pilates Elder Lolita San Miguel. Sixteen years after I opened my studio, I am not only teaching clients daily, but am also a Balanced Body Faculty member and teaching Pilates instructors to become teachers.
Author: Submitted by Patricia Welter
Location: Palm Harbor, FL
Occupation: Pilates instructor and studio owner