Michael “Mike” Slightam., a social studies teacher at a Dayton, Ohio inner-city high school, loves teaching, knowing he an opportunity to change people’s lives.
Following an active lifestyle, Mike takes an annual summer trip to California to visit his brother. However, this past year, his summer holiday went awry. Cellulitis that developed on his right leg became a serious wound with sepsis–a severe, life-threatening illness caused by infection of the bloodstream. Mike’s organs began to fail. He was rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors informed him that to save his life, it was necessary to amputate his leg.
Mike woke up in the ICU five days later with multiple tubes in place, including a breathing tube. Once he gained strength during his recovery, and he was transferred to HealthSouth Tustin Rehabilitation Hospital–the only freestanding acute rehabilitation hospital in Orange County, Calif.
Upon arrival to HealthSouth Tustin, Michael required total assistance to transfer to and from the bed and toilet, as well as for personal grooming, lower-body dressing and walking. With goals for Mike to become as independent and get back to teaching, the clinical team created a plan specifically for him.
Mike received medication including antibiotics to aggressively fight his infection. Licensed physical and occupational therapists guided him through intense therapy at least three hours a day, five days a week. And licensed registered nurses cared for his incision to prevent infection and encourage healing. He was seen daily by a rehabilitation physician, and met with an internal medicine physician, too.
Determined to get back to living his life, Mike made significant progress at HealthSouth Tustin. By the time of his discharge, he could transfer himself to and from his bed, the toilet and his car. His upper body strength had increased. And he depended less on a wheelchair, walking with a crutch at times.
“I feel like God gave me a second chance,” Mike says, “to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually here.” Mike thanked the rehabilitation team at HealthSouth Tustin, who he described as “some of the most caring people I’ve ever met. I can’t thank them enough.”
“Sometimes you are faced with a situation that you won’t be able to change,” said Mike, “but you need to accept it, move on and be grateful for what you do have.”
Indeed, Mike’s community has rallied to support him. While hospitalized in California, his friends raised funds to help him ease back into his life and live independently. They bought him a hospital bed, built a concrete ramp to his front door, and installed handicap rails.
Mike’s efforts to change people’s lives have certainly been appreciated.