Donnita Stevens

Donnita Stevens has lived a “normal, everyday life” since recovering from Guillan-Barre syndrome (GBS) ten years ago. Then one day her fingers and feet began to feel numb. The symptoms were familiar — they were the same that she had ten years prior. Donnita knew she needed to get to the hospital.

After 11 days in the hospital, Donnita was diagnosed with Guillan-Barre again. She chose Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital to start her recovery from the neuromuscular condition. Donnita arrived at Gateway weak, but able to stand and walk with a walker.

Things were going well for Donnita, progressing well with her therapy. Then one day, she suddenly became much weaker. Donnita returned to the acute care hospital for more testing. Her GBS was progressing. By the time she readmitted to Gateway, Donnita was paralyzed from the neck down.

Donnita spent the next 42 days working with her physical and occupational therapists, multiple times per day. She was determined to walk and function again — so much so that she did her exercises at night and on the weekends, too. Her efforts paid off and Donnita made great progress in her recovery.

Despite her excitement about the progress she made, Donnita was very nervous to return home. She was scared to leave Jarrett, her physical therapist, and Emily, her occupational therapist. She worked so hard with them and grew to trust them. But because of that trust and hard work, Donnita returned home much stronger, even if she wasn’t yet able to walk again.

At home, Donnita’s husband and daughter helped care for her. She worked with a home health therapist for ten weeks, regaining the ability to stand. She could even do some walking with a walker. After those ten weeks, the home health therapist told Donnita she was ready for outpatient therapy.

Donnita knew exactly where she wanted to go for outpatient therapy. Having built such great relationships with them, Donnita thinks of the team at Gateway as family. There was nowhere else she wanted to be.

“All of the therapists are caring,” Donnita said. “They actually cared about me as a person, not just another patient.”

Just a couple of weeks into Donnita’s outpatient therapy, she no longer needed her walker to walk. Donnita can drive, clean her house, and cook meals for her family. She is even back to working from home! Donnita’s short-term goal is to be able to get in-and-out of her garden tub so she can soak and relax at home.

Donnita believes there is a purpose in her journey. “I feel like this happened to me so that I could share my story,” she said. “I want to be able to help other people dealing with illness and give them hope. I am a miracle and Gateway Rehabilitation Hospital made that possible for me!”