Success stories

Jeanne Firstenburg's Story

Jeanne Firstenburg has built a "lifelong relationship with PeaceHealth Southwest's therapy and rehab." Three separate injuries have led the First Independent bank president into our care. Each time, she felt "cradled" by the staff and the sports therapy program from the moment she went into surgery until the day she graduated, stronger than before. But they also pushed her to meet her goals. A passionate mother, philanthropist, runner and skier, Jeanne worked hard to follow the program. In time, she became part of the rehab family, and today, she finds many reasons to visit her beloved therapists and staff. With a laugh, she says, "I am the patient they have to tell, 'You can't keep coming here any more.'"

Jay Freimuth's Story

Just 19, Jay Freimuth was struck down when his life was busier than ever. Jay had finished a full week at his new school and a closing shift at his full-time job at Subway when he and his friends headed out dancing. On Thursday, he had noticed his legs were numb, but chalked it up to a recent car accident. Saturday night, he fell at the club and by Sunday he couldn't walk at all. He was admitted to the emergency room, diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome and came close to losing his life. A survivor, he arrived at PeaceHealth Southwest Rehabilitation Services in a wheelchair, unable to feel his legs or feet. After two weeks of aggressive inpatient rehabilitation and many more of outpatient neuro-therapy, Jay is back on the job and pursuing his GED. Therapy was difficult, he said, but, "It was worth it!"

Eileen LaFavor's Story

Thanksgiving in Minnesota ended abruptly with Eileen LaFavor and her family on the side of a dark and icy road. The fateful car accident left Eileen with three skull fractures. Her family recovered, but Eileen spent nine days in a Montana hospital before transferring to a place she knew well, PeaceHealth Southwest Rehabilitation Services, her workplace. After five days as an inpatient, she spent three months re-learning how to spell, remember, and even drive. Her coworkers rallied around her, and soon she was back on the job. "They did a really good job of challenging me," said Eileen. "They got me better really quickly, and I'm pretty proud of that."

Michelle Robertson's Story

Michelle suffered from headaches for years. A voracious reader, she saw herself in an article about Rosanne Cash, who shared symptoms Michelle had recently noticed -- trouble swallowing, lack of balance, muscle weakness and numbness. Both Michelle and the famed singer suffered from a Chiari malformation, a structural defect in the brain's cerebellum. An ensuing complication for Michelle was syringomyelia, a pocket of spinal fluid on the interior of the spinal cord. Thorough evaluation by her neurosurgical specialist led to five brain and spinal cord surgeries. When she entered PeaceHealth Southwest Rehabilitation Services, Michelle couldn't even sit up. Five weeks later, after the hard work of "relearning every little thing and not being afraid," Michelle's symptoms have not progressed, and she is independent. "I had this great team," she said, "and each had their own unique way of helping me."