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“…with his help I was walking at my son’s wedding!”

by Richard Queirolo

Richard Queirolo

Richard Queirolo

My name is Richard Queirolo. I am 65 years old and I live in Novato, California. I had a massive stroke in 2003. I was in ICU for three weeks and was not responding and the doctors did not expect me to live. Then when they decided I would live, they said I would not be able to walk or talk again.

At the time of my stroke, my wife was working and I needed a caregiver to take me to the doctor and help me stretch and to exercise. When I was in rehab, my wife Janet was approached by several individuals who wanted to be my caregiver and they said they would do this work for $30/hour. The Marin County social workers referred us to the Marin Center for Independent Living to find a caregiver, as they did not charge extra for their caregivers as the private personnel agencies do. We could not afford to pay someone $30/hour.

We were very nervous at this time because we had no experience in doing this kind of hiring and having someone in our home for so many hours a day was a big change for us. The staff at the Attendant Referral Registry told me that an excellent caregiver, whose specialty was stroke victims, was available and suggested we interview Walter Fuentes. Walter came to our house and he was very straightforward and honest. I told him about my goal of walking at my son’s wedding in Maui. When I had been at the rehab center, they had kept me in a wheelchair instead of working with me to help me walk.

Walter said, "By December (nine months away) I will have you walking." Walter took me to outpatient therapy and learned from them the exercises to do at home. He would walk me back and forth to the bedroom, make me get up and down from the wheelchair 50 times a day, and ride the stationary bike over and over and over.

Walter built a special device for me to get me in and out of the hot tub. He would anticipate my needs, always thinking ahead of how to keep my environment safe, comfortable and clean. He was psychiatrist too, assuring me that I was not a burden to my wife and encouraging me to try harder to achieve my goal of walking. Walter was much better then the Physical and Occupational Therapists at the rehab center.

Walter was right—with his help I was walking at my son’s wedding!