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Jennifer Crowell – A Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Story

Editor’s note: As part of our holiday campaign, Mary Free Bed is asking former patients to tell us about their rehabilitation experience. What follows is one of those stories.


Who would have thought that a life-changing injury would bring such incredible people into my life? It was July 15, 2008 – a gorgeous summer day – when I dove into a very shallow part of a lake and fractured two cervical vertebrae. I was diagnosed with quadriplegia.

After five weeks at Spectrum Health, I was freed from the machines that assisted my breathing. The next step was finding the appropriate rehabilitation facility. My family and support system considered many places—but it all came down to Mary Free Bed, thanks to the passionate advice of someone who had a personal experience there.

Some people don’t believe in perfection, but I beg to differ! Even with my precarious first two weeks of rehabilitation, the staff continued with diligence to push me forward.

The beginning seemed like an ending to me because I didn’t know how or where to begin this new life. The many faces that swarmed in and out of my room seemed endless, but it wasn’t long before each name was implanted forever in my mind because of their virtuous character.

I did not fully understand the intensity of the therapy ahead. Hours of daily rehabilitation were split between physical and occupational therapy, which left me completely drained by the end of each day. My time was shared with many, but there were a select few that were by my side daily.

Within a three-month period I became a well-known part of Mary Free Bed and Mary Free Bed brought me physical and mental strength. My goals, which seemed impossibly high, were attainable thanks to the dedication and determination of my new MFB “family.” Not only did Mary Free Bed make me feel comfortable, the people there understood how important it was for my family, who were as confused and scared as I was, to be an essential part of my rehabilitation. For that, I will be forever grateful.

After spending the most critical part of my recovery in Michigan, I had a bittersweet move back to New Hampshire where my family has helped me continue to grow. As we say in New Hampshire, ‘Thank you Grand Rapids, a wicked lot.’

Guest blog written by: Jennifer Crowell

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