It took Sherry Blakley, of Mossyrock, three tries to tell her nephew to call 911. Collapsed on the living room floor, she was completely numb from the neck down and barely able to speak. What got her there were years of seemingly small but flawed decisions stacked one atop the other.

It started with weight gain that led to gastric bypass surgery in June 2020. Sherry was required to first lose 30% of her body weight and attend classes about post-surgery life. The importance of taking vitamins was stressed in the classes — information she heard but didn’t end up heeding.

Arbor Health Morton Hospital Sherry Blakle
Sherry looked like a different woman when she was admitted into Arbor Health — Morton Hospital, but she was determined to make it. Photo courtesy: Arbor Health

A Downward Spiral

Sherry recalls that food was repulsive to her after the surgery and most of what she did get down caused vomiting and diarrhea. The problem with eating didn’t go away, nor did she stay on top of taking vitamins to supplement the missing nutrients her body was no longer absorbing.

“It took a year to get to the decline I was in,” she says. “It turned out that I had become severely malnourished, and my body was shutting down.”

In the weeks leading to her collapse, Sherry was weak, had difficulty walking and was being cared for by family members. She was transported to Arbor Health–Morton Hospital, where she would stay for over two months, first in acute care and then as an Extended-Care Rehab patient.

Hope and Encouragement

“I didn’t know if I would ever walk again. I couldn’t move my arms or legs,” Sherry recalls. “But by the grace of God and the grace of good staff at Morton Hospital, I made it. You all saved my life.”

Physical therapy was huge in her recovery, and she was also supported emotionally and spiritually. “You gave me hope and encouraged me,” says Sherry. “Oh my goodness, I could praise the nursing staff day and night. They were so encouraging.”

She explains how one nurse, Vern, said they were going to try something new, a sit-to-stand lift, which Sherry wasn’t excited to try. “But he brought it in, strapped me in and said, ‘Come on, we’re going to do this.’”

She tried using her muscles to stand up but knew the lift was doing all the work. All the same, Vern encouraged her, saying, “You’re doing good, you’re doing good.”

Arbor Health Morton Hospital Sherry Blakle
Sherry credits the Morton Hospital staff, from the housekeepers to the nurses, with saving her life. Photo courtesy: Arbor Health

Heartfelt Gratitude

Sherry recalls nurses’ aides coming into her room to fix her hair and the cooks visiting her to discuss her meals. “Doris, one of the housekeepers, would come into my room daily,” Sherry recalls. “She was a bright light for me. She’d ask, ‘Sherry, how are you today? We’re all fighting for you and pulling for you.’ They treated me with dignity and respect.”

In recognition of Physical Therapy Department staff, she says, “I remember Debi coming in [and saying], ‘Okay, today we’re going to get up and make it to the sink and mirror so you can brush your teeth.’ And she knew I was a Christian, so she’d bring scripture in for me and pray with me. Jayme, too, was amazing.”

Sherry also notes that Edwin came to work with her on several Sundays. He would cheer her on with, “You’re doing it! Look at you go!”

Sherry remembers she was really just shuffling her feet while holding onto the walker. She couldn’t take actual steps for quite a while. “The day I made it to the nurses’ station, all of the nurses were there, cheering for me, clapping their hands,” she says with emotion.

She made the whole loop around the hospital two days before her discharge with her walker. The staff applauded that too. “The encouragement and love I received, I have such deep, heartfelt gratitude for everyone who fought for me and worked to get me where I am,” says Sherry.  

Arbor Health Morton Hospital Sherry Blakle
Sherry Blakley of Mossyrock is a shining example of someone working hard to turn their health around. Photo courtesy: Arbor Health

Better By the Day

Sherry was discharged from the hospital on April 2, 2021 — 76 days after her collapse. She then continued physical therapy as an outpatient.

Looking back, Sherry says, “I don’t know why I didn’t take my vitamins like I was supposed to. I think maybe because I couldn’t imagine taking pills when I couldn’t keep food down.” Now she takes about 40 pills daily, medications and vitamins, and she says she takes them religiously.

Today, Sherry enjoys playing with her two grandnieces, is active in her church and goes for walks. “Now I do things I never even thought I could before the surgery,” she says. “I’ve gotten to really enjoy walking, and I even fantasize about hiking.”

Sherry will share her story at the Arbor Talks event in Morton on Tuesday, August 22, at the Roxy Theater. Modeled after the popular TED talks on YouTube, Arbor Talks will include five short presentations on various wellness subjects. The event is part of a week-long health-related focus, dubbed Wellness Week, provided by the Arbor Health medical system.

Arbor Health Wellness Week from August 21 to August 26

  • Community Walks in Packwood, Randle, Morton and Mossyrock
  • Arbor Talks
  • Affordable Whole Foods Cooking Class
  • Family Kick Ball night in Randle and Mossyrock
  • Healthy Fun Photo Contest
  • Joy in the Journey 3K Color Run
  • Wellness Week Health Expo

See the entire Arbor Health Wellness Week schedule online.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email