The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step

Hugo Montemayor

Surrounded by Mary Moreno and Keith Brandt, Hugo Montemayor (center) works to improve his balance and strength in one of his regular sessions at the Wellness Clinic.

The Battle For Survival

The nightmare began when Hugo Montemayor came home on Wednesday, November 18, 2009, complaining of a headache. What began as a minor complaint for this 38 year old heavy duty mechanic from Richmond, Texas spiraled into a high fever that within days sent him to the hospital in Sugar Land.

“At first, he was diagnosed with meningitis and he improved with treatment,” said Stephanie Montemayor, Hugo’s wife. “However the Friday after Thanksgiving he started to decline.”

He became unresponsive and teams of doctors in Sugar Land and the Texas Medical Center consulted as they fought to save him. That Friday afternoon, they called a code on him, put him on a ventilator, transferred him to the Medical Center and admitted him to the ICU in a coma.

In the following weeks, doctors struggled to diagnose and battle the disease that had taken control of Hugo’s life. The final diagnosis, Bacterial Tuberculin Meningitis, a rare strain of meningitis, was deemed responsible for keeping Hugo in the hospital for 47 days, 32 of them in a coma.

The Road to Recovery

“When he came out of the coma on Christmas Eve, we realized that he was paralyzed on his left side,” said Stephanie.

Picking up the story, Hugo described his condition. “The doctors told me that the loss of feeling was abnormal and they thought that it was permanent. They said that I may never walk again and that even my normal daily activities such as brushing my teeth and combing my hair would be difficult for me.”

The Work To Regain His Life

Upon discharge from the hospital, Hugo accepted the recommendation of his primary care practitioner, Dr. Reddy to choose Physical Therapy Care & Aquatic Rehab of Fort Bend for his outpatient therapy. Having been a patient herself, Dr. Reddy had experienced good results with the full-service, independent clinic located in Richmond, Texas.

During the initial evaluation visit, Hugo related the grim prediction.

“The staff here looked at the total picture of all that was going on in my life and were very considerate,” said Hugo, “They set goals I could reach and they worked around the other things that were happening, like the side effects of the medications.”

“We can’t predict patient outcomes but we work hard to help our patients achieve their best functional potential,” explained Patti Kocich, President of the company. “To do this, our treatment program is in constant motion and we never allow it to get stale. There are always two plans which are constantly updated: one at the clinic and one at home. Hugo’s determination and compliance were critical to his recovery.”

The First Step

“He had come so far and I can remember his first single step,” said Patti as she held back tears. “The entire clinic cheered including the patients.”

“I’ve worked with everyone here at this clinic,” said Hugo. “At the beginning, two people were on me at all times: one telling me what to do and one holding me up. They motivated me.”

Hugo started at the clinic in February, graduated from the wheelchair in May and has been walking independently since the end of June. Currently he works out regularly in the Wellness Program at the clinic.

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

In Hugo’s opinion, the slight vision and hearing loss he experiences as a result of the disease are minor. He sees his survival with his sight and all his limbs intact as a miracle.

Summarizing his ordeal, Hugo says “God is good and I am definitely blessed. This illness has been a life changing experience for me and my family. My therapists and the staff at Physical Therapy Care and Aquatic Rehab of Fort Bend are a blessing. They are helping me get my life back and to get back into life.”