RECOGNIZING THE ENEMY
In November of 2012, Michelle Perez went to see the doctor because she was constantly feeling nauseous. She was diagnosed with vertigo but the medication did not relieve the symptoms.
Stationed at Fort Hood, Michelle worked in Intelligence as a member of the Brigade Special Troops Battalion (ACO, BSTB, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division). Two months before she was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan, Michelle insisted that something was wrong and an MRI was scheduled.
Michelle and her husband Gilbert, both career soldiers, are no strangers to stress. However, the results of the MRI were grim and a second MRI diagnosed a brain tumor.
On May 8th, 2013 Michelle underwent eight hours of neurosurgery. Two weeks after the surgery, the diagnosis came back malignant: Michelle had a medulloblastoma located in the left – center of her brain.
“That’s the part that controls her motor skills; everything that she has trouble with now,” explained Gilbert.
ASSEMBLING THE TROOPS
The next step: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for radiation therapy followed by chemotherapy.
Armed with a prescription for physical therapy, Gilbert researched over the internet to find a clinic close to Rosenberg. He chose Physical Therapy Care & Aquatic Rehab of Fort Bend due to its reputation, proximity to home and its specialty in vestibular care. They started with Stacy Koscinski, the vestibular therapist at the clinic.
“Everything the research showed, it’s here,” said Gilbert.
FACING DOWN THE ENEMY
“When Michelle started with us she had double vision, headaches, unsteadiness and nausea,” explained Stacy. “She could not walk alone because she was so unsteady and her motions were jerky. She moved by holding onto walls and surfaces.”
“In her evaluation, I realized that her vestibular system was not functioning and when she closed her eyes, she had no idea where she was.”
“I was on a walker. Oh my God, I was a mess!” exclaimed Michelle.
“Stacy started with fixing the vertigo. Not long after I began, I put the walker aside and now the vertigo is fixed for the most part,” she continued.
“Stacy is so professional and spot on! She knows exactly what is wrong. She checks the vertigo which changes daily with the chemotherapy, and is able to diagnose and treat it.”
“It’s almost like I’m going to school. We don’t have degrees in this but Stacy is constantly teaching me, empowering me.”
“She is always letting me know to the ‘T’ exactly what is going on so I am not lost in it all.”
“She understands me, she gets me! She pushes me and that’s good because I am competitive,” said Michelle
“The doctors have explained that the brain is the organ that takes the longest to heal,” explained Gilbert. “Until her brain closes completely, she won’t be completely well,”
“Here they understand when she doesn’t feel good and they adjust for that but when she feels good they challenge her. She can do more then.”
Michelle points out “If I’m going to get better it will be with Stacy.” Grinning she adds, “She’s the WOMAN!”