Because of Siskin Hospital, I can care for my patients

December 1, 2020

A busy ER physician like Dr. Jeff Blackmon doesn’t have time for the unexpected.

Though he’d been experiencing some knee pain, he’d managed it – until the day it became unbearable. The knee injection would normally have alleviated the pain, but that’s when his life began to crumble. Instead of improvement, he developed an infection which became septic and formed an abscess on his spine, resulting in numerous neurological deficits. He spent the holidays in an acute-care hospital, and after the New Year, came to Siskin Hospital, confused, extremely weak, unable to get out of bed and without hope.

In the first few days as he lay in his bed at Siskin Hospital, he began to realize his condition. The former marathoner couldn’t move his right arm, had only limited mobility in his left leg and was blind in his left eye. He didn’t know where he was until kind staff explained it to him. When he fully understood the terrible truth, he sunk into depression.

“They’ll keep me here and try to help me,” the experienced physician thought, “but ultimately, I’ll be heading to a nursing home.”

At only 50 years old, all his hopes and dreams of a life of medical service and a bright future with his wife, Sonja, evaporated. During this time, his compassionate nurse listened to him, dried his tears, and told him everything would be all right. His therapist popped into his room just to check on him between therapy sessions. His psychologist listened patiently and talked him through his feelings.

Because of his prolonged bed stay, Dr. Blackmon couldn’t tolerate sitting or standing for more than a few minutes. It took three therapists to get him on his feet, only to have his blood pressure plummet. Gradually, as he gained strength, he’d sit with better balance or stand with more strength. There were days when he didn’t seem to improve at all, and then suddenly, he’d take a big leap forward. After a few such days, he asked Sonja to bring in his skateboard helmet. He wanted to get to work in earnest, but feared he’d be set back if he fell. His therapists teased him about it, but encouraged his will to work and efforts at improvement.

Hope began to revive when he took his first halting, laborious steps in a standing frame, supported on every side by four therapists. From there, he made rapid strides, and when he discharged three weeks later, he walked out with a rolling walker. Since then, he has progressed to a cane and now walks independently and even runs a little. Today, he’s serving his community as a family practice doctor and looks forward to traveling again with Sonja.

“I’m deeply indebted to Siskin Hospital for giving me my life back,” says Dr. Blackmon.


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