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Bernadine Rogstad has spent her life taking care of others. She ran a daycare, was the head RN at a nursing home, and served as a caregiver for elderly members in her family. But everything changed in 2008. At age 51, she suffered a series of strokes over a six-month period that left her disabled and in need of care.
Bernadine’s husband of 30-plus years, John, and their daughters, Ilia Kirby and Lisa Cowey, were ready to do whatever it took to aid Bernadine as she began the long road to recovery.
Ilia became her mother’s caretaker – the ordeal had not only made it difficult for Bernadine to speak, but her arm muscles contracted so severely that even lifting her arm from her side was intensely painful. Her hand clenched so tightly that her nails dug into her skin.
“This condition was really bad,” says Ilia. “Trimming her fingernails and even cleaning under her arm was really painful for her.”
Bernadine began physical therapy and treatment for the strokes, but she couldn’t regain use of her arm. The pain finally got so bad that she had to halt the physical therapy treatment.
In February of 2011, her state case manager suggested she try Botox treatment to relax her arm muscles.
Ilia looked for a doctor that offered Botox treatment, hoping it would alleviate the pain and make Bernadine’s care more manageable. Eventually, they found help at Skagit Island Orthopedics.
When they met with Dr. Jimmy Cui, one of the first things he talked about was pain management. Dr. Cui specializes in physiatry, a branch of medicine focused on non-surgical approaches to pain, disease and injuries. He tended to Bernadine’s comfort while examining her arm.
“That made me very happy,” Bernadine says. Dr. Cui made sure she had taken her medicine, and numbed the skin before using the injection needle, always being gentle with Bernadine’s arm.
“He was so professional,” she says. “I felt cared for.”
“Dr. Cui was so courteous,” Ilia relates. “When she was done with the Botox injection, she said, ‘That was it?’ The pain level was completely different. It was like comparing the pain of a flu shot to breaking your arm.”
After only three months of treatment at Skagit Island Orthopedics, Bernadine’s independence is returning. Her arm is no longer locked at her side, and using her other hand, she can lift and move the troubled arm. This has restored the ability to do simple things like laying her hand flat, being able to trim her fingernails, washing her side, and putting on her own shirts without assistance.
“It’s a lot better,” Bernadine says. “It is so wonderful to be able to move my arm without pain.”
Ilia agrees the treatment has helped the situation overall. “This has made caring for her less stressful for both me and my father.”
Now that the Botox treatment has loosened her arm, Bernadine has been able to resume physical therapy.
“We don’t know if she will ever be able to use her arm again, but Dr. Cui said having the physical therapy with the Botox will make the Botox treatment last longer, so she won’t need it as often,” Ilia says.
Though Bernadine and her loved ones hope for the use of her arm to return, for now they are thankful that she can move it. Best of all, the pain is gone.
“Having someone like Dr. Cui help us through such a giant life-changing event has been wonderful,” says Ilia, her voice trailing off as the emotions of the journey swell. “After what we have endured, having the quality care, compassion and professional knowledge provided by this amazing doctor and staff was a godsend.”