RSS Stay updated. Subscribe to our RSS feed.
Stories That Move You.


This post is second in a series on the real Mary Free Bed patients who appeared in the hospital’s new billboards and commercials.

by Jess Venlet, Mary Free Bed writer

On the first day of speech therapy at Mary Free Bed, Pat Smith knew her life would never be the same. Her speech therapist held picture cards in front of her, and asked her where she should go at night when she was tired. One of the pictures was of a bed, but Pat couldn’t speak.

In 2008, Pat noticed that her right arm and leg were not working properly. After an MRI showed that she had a basal ganglia mass in the left side of her brain, she went to Harper Hospital in Detroit for surgery. The mass was removed, but the removal caused cognitive problems, as well as paralysis of Pat’s right side.

When choosing a rehabilitation center, Pat’s husband suggested Mary Free Bed. Pat immediately decided that was the best option. Mary Free Bed is close to her family and friends, and, as she noted, has a reputation for excellent rehabilitation care.

Shortly after Pat’s discouraging first day of speech therapy at Mary Free Bed, her breakthrough moment occurred. She was spending a Saturday evening with her kids and grandkids. Everyone was chatting, and enjoying each others company.

“I remember being so frustrated,” Pat said, “because I wanted to communicate with them. And all of a sudden— it’s like it just came out of my mouth—I said, ‘I just want to talk!’ Everyone was shocked.”

From this moment on Pat knew that she wouldn’t be the same person she was before her surgery. But as she said, “I saw that I could have a life after the surgery, it would just be different.”

Pat has been doing physical and occupational therapy at Mary Free Bed since her surgery. She has worked with Kristi McKamey, Diane Miller, and Janna Reichel. “They are a joy to work with. Very encouraging. [Going to] see them [for therapy] is fun. I always have fun with them.”

Although Pat was reluctant to be part of the new ad campaign (as she said, “I’m not an actress!”), she decided representing Mary Free Bed was a great way to support the hospital that has given her so much.

Pat’s advice for those just beginning rehab is this: “Put your faith in God. Trust Him to take care of you. Trust the Mary Free Bed physicians and therapists, and work as hard as you can. Don’t give up. Life will come back to some sort of normal.”

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply