Posted on June 28, 2021

Cousins encourage each other during recovery from strokes

Ruben Sauceda and his cousin Heriberto (Joe) are both in their early 60s and have spent much of their lives together in the Holland area.

“Joe and I grew up together. We went to school together. We did a lot of things together,” said Ruben. “Then, we had strokes together.”

Ruben was at his job driving a forklift when his legs went numb and he started to lose control.  He had suffered a blockage in a blood vessel of his brain. The stroke impacted the left side of his body.

About a week later, Joe was with his family when family members noticed him slurring his speech. He collapsed shortly thereafter. He had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain. His stroke affected the right side of his body.

Both men spent time rehabilitating at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, staying just down the hall from each other. They worked together motivating each other, through shooting pool and playing bean bag toss in recreational therapy.

“To see them motivating each other, and working with their family, it was something special for me,” said Marjeanne Bothma, Mary Free Bed physical therapist. “I felt very privileged to be able to have the opportunity to work with both of them and see their progress.”

Both Ruben and Joe returned to the homes in Holland this month to continue their recovery through outpatient therapy.