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UPDATE: Julie Scheving celebrates milestones after surviving massive stroke

Updated April 18, 2019

On an April day 10 years ago, Julie Scheving’s life changed. The former Holland resident experienced a massive stroke that limited her ability to talk and move. But when she began her rehabilitation journey at Mary Free Bed, Julie took steps to get her life back. And she’s done just that.

A decade later, Julie returned to Grand Rapids – armed with tasty treats – to visit her team and offer her thanks. She swapped stories with therapists and nurses, and shared encouragement with current patients on their path to recovery.

“You’ll never be the same again,” Julie said. “But you will find a new normal, a better way. I think I see life better now than I did before.”

Watch a video of the reunion:

Originally published May 17, 2011

Even a motivational speaker can get discouraged.

Julie Scheving was very discouraged after a massive stroke that caused her to lose half of her speaking ability and the use of the right side of her body.

After her initial recovery, Julie quickly found herself as an inpatient at Mary Free Bed’s Stroke Program.

“I moved from not being sure I would make it, to ‘You are going to Mary Free Bed tomorrow’,” Julie said.

Julie especially was concerned about losing her speaking ability. As a consultant for the Southern Baptist Convention, she speaks to groups around the state and runs a women’s ministry.

When Julie arrived at Mary Free Bed in mid-April 2009, she felt demoralized and unmotivated.

“I fought my therapy,” Julie said. “I was feeling sorry for myself and would have just moped in my room. I know that I wasn’t the best patient, but they pushed me in the best way to improve.”

Julie spent 28 days in inpatient care at Mary Free Bed, working on a combination of physical, occupational, speech-language and recreational therapies.

Her recreational therapist, Jenny, was very influential, Julie said.

“She pushed me to reconnect with others. I didn’t want to be on Facebook, but she said I need the support,” Julie said. “Her patient insistence won me over.”

Now, Julie has more than 700 friends on Facebook and is able to use the connections to support others.

During occupational therapy, it became clear Julie had lost vision in her right eye.

“My therapist, Jason, worked with me until we found solutions to everyday situations,” Julie said.

Julie remembers seeing other patients further along in the healing process and being encouraged that there was hope. She also saw patients who were behind her and feeling confidence in her growth. As an expert in motivation, Julie found the mix of temperaments and styles among the therapists to be a positive force.

“Some would give me information on why my body was responding in certain ways,” Julie said. “Other therapists would be full of encouragement and some wouldn’t let me get away with anything. I needed them all to grow and heal.”

Regaining her speaking abilities was critical to Julie’s recovery.  At the time of the stroke, Julie would answer a question about the range of colors with, “Blue, blue, blue.”

“I was frightened, because I couldn’t find the right words to communicate,” Julie said.

Prior to her stroke, Julie had a gift for communicating to others in creative ways they could understand. The thought of losing those skills was devastating. Speech-language therapy helped Julie to rediscover her voice.

Julie spent four weeks at Mary Free Bed, and still uses the skills she gained. After emergency surgery in 2011, Julie implemented the strategies and lessons from Mary Free Bed to quickly recover.

“I know how to strengthen myself again, because of what I learned at Mary Free Bed,” Julie said. “My time at Mary Free Bed was a gift. It was the launching pad for me. I could not come close to living a normal life without my time at Mary Free Bed.”

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