Robert Evans: Marine Veteran, Butcher, Stroke Survivor

Lifelong Amesbury, MA resident Robert Evans has never been a stranger to hard work. Between being a butcher for over 50 years and being a veteran of the Marines, some might think that he’d be complacent with kicking his feet up and taking it easy.  Now, at the age of 84 when most would be happily retired, his top goal on his rehabilitation goal-board reads “Go back to work.” 12 years ago, with his wife’s health deteriorating, he decided to try retirement to spend time with her. She passed away 3 happily-lived years after that. To keep his mind busy he decided it was best to return to the workforce and quickly took a butcher job at his old place of employment, Vermette’s Super Market. It was around that time that he was caught off guard by his first stroke.

“I had a mini-stroke after my wife passed away. I noticed it at night, right after I got up to go to bed and I felt a little stiff on my right side. I thought, “well I’ll feel better in the morning.” So I went to bed and I got up at night to go to the bathroom and I could tell there was something wrong. Instead of going down to outpatient, I said I’d go to the doctor in the morning. By morning it was just about cleared up. I could move my arm and everything and it was just a little stiffness.”

After spending 3 days in the hospital, he eventually was given clearance to return home. He lived the next 6 years without any serious complications, but unbeknownst to him and his family, the clot that had caused the first stroke had not gone away. One night after dinner he noticed the symptoms of another stroke setting on, and he was rushed to the hospital again. He had surgery to get the clot removed, stayed at the hospital for a week, and then came to the Northeast Rehab Inpatient Hospital in Salem, NH.

The Track to Recovery, One Step and Fist Clench at a Time

At our Inpatient Hospital, Robert worked with his therapists and physicians to regain strength and motion within the arm and leg that were affected by the stroke. He’d work extensively with our staff during the day and even put in some extra time by himself at night. Over the next two weeks, he eventually relearned how to shower alone and shave left-handed.

“It’s more about picking little things up. Tiny muscle movements. That’s the thing she worked on with me. I learned how to shave left-handed. What more can you ask? I’ve always been a person that shaved and showered every morning and we spent quite a bit of time in the gym with different things …I can now spread my fingers out pretty well. I’m really anxious to get well. I look at my goal board that says “Go back to work” …not that I exactly need a job, but I need the people. I’ve worked in Amesbury all my life… Vermette’s is an old Amesbury store… I know 75% of the people who go there. It’s about getting back to my Vermette’s family and my brothers and sisters.”

Bittersweet Goodbyes

On his final day of Inpatient Rehabilitation, Robert had nothing but glowing praise for the staff that worked with him and took care of him.

“I love ’em all! I can hold my arm up and I only have the people here to thank for being able to do that. They’ve been awfully good to me and it’s been about as fun as it possibly could be. I haven’t known these people for a long time but they’ve started to feel like family. We’ve done a lot together and I’ve enjoyed their company throughout it. All of that makes a huge difference with rehabilitation.”

With home on the horizon and family waiting, his plans for after his Northeast Rehab graduation were very clear.

“I just got a new record player and porch built. When I get outta’ here I plan to take some time and relax… then it’s back to work! I’m 84 but it ain’t over yet.”