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,” Ruben said. “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 a blockage in a blood vessel in his brain. The stroke impacted the left side of his body.

About a week later, Joe was with his family when they noticed his speech was slurred. Then he collapsed. Joe had a hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain. His stroke affected the right side of his body.

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

“To see them motivating each other and working with their family, it was something special for me,” said physical therapist Marjeanne Bothma. “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.