Up until late January, life was good for 39-year old Tasha Roberts and her husband, Christopher. They had recently moved to Florida and Tasha began working as a finisher a local boatmaker, crafting bow tables and port lounges. Outside of work, Tasha and Christopher enjoyed the Sunshine State’s waterways, kayaking, fishing, cruising and boating. In late January, however, scans revealed that Tasha had a brain tumor that had unknowingly been growing for quite some time.
A week later, she underwent a nine-hour brain surgery to remove it. Afterward, Tasha was admitted to intensive care and a few days later, a valve to reduce fluid was placed on her brain. After surgery, one side of her face was paralyzed and she could not walk. When she stabilized, Tasha and her husband evaluated their rehabilitation options. Her main goal was to find a facility that would challenge her. She chose UF Health Rehab Hospital because she believed it would help her meet her main goals of walking, talking and living independently.
Tasha said that the treatment team challenged her in the best way possible. “The therapists don't know how much of a role they have in healing, for both your body and your spirit.” she said. “Whether it’s in treatment or making me laugh again, the therapists really care; they don’t just put you in bed and forget about you.”
Physical therapists led Tasha through strength-building exercises to increase stamina in her arms, legs and core. They helped her stand, then take her first few steps since surgery. In occupational therapy, she used the BITS interactive therapy device to retrain her vision and other skills necessary to resume driving safely. Tasha’s speech therapist, Jacqui, helped her relearn how to speak, teaching her exercises and workarounds that helped her overcome facial weakness.
By Valentine’s Day, less than two weeks after Tasha arrived at UF Health Rehab Hospital, recreational and physical therapists created a special challenge for Tasha: Deliver Valentine cards to each patient, speaking the greeting “Happy Valentine’s Day.” She succeeded, and was thrilled.
Tasha especially enjoyed recreational therapy art classes, where she painted pictures to aid self-expression. In the painting she is pictured holding, Tasha said green represents her surgeries and pain, yellow lighting symbolizes her headaches, red is for blood being drawn by medical staff, orange for her stiches and lavender is for the amazing therapists at UF Health Rehab Hospital who have been a part of her recovery.
After 17 days, Tasha was ready to head home. She had accomplished nearly all her goals. She was able to walk in her room independently and speak clearly. She still needs some help for daily living activities, but is determined to keep practicing. Tasha expressed her excitement to get back home to her husband and dogs, and was eager to whip up her famous quadruple chocolate cheesecake. As anxious as she was to get back home, she said that saying goodbye to the staff who worked with her was “way too hard.”
She’s thankful for her biggest cheerleaders – her family – and all the support she received from everyone at UF Health Rehab Hospital. Tasha said that through the process of her recovery, she has begun to love herself more and has a new gratitude for each day. Tasha's advice for anyone going through the recovery process is to never give up because “everything will get better with time.”