After a 25-day stay in Kenmore Mercy Hospital’s Medical Rehabilitation Unit, violist Leslie Balher wasn’t quite ready to run, but she was ready to perform again.
After a stroke-like illness earlier this year, Bahler, a music teacher and a professional violist, lost use of the right side of body, forcing her to suspend her life’s passion.
She first noticed a problem in early June, while preparing for a concert at the Chautauqua Institution. “I couldn’t get dressed. I couldn’t hold a pencil. I couldn’t eat dinner. I couldn’t lift my arm. I couldn’t lift my leg. I couldn’t do anything, which was pretty scary,” said Bahler.
After a battery of tests, she was diagnosed with a left frontal hemorrhagic mass, a stroke-like condition. To help in her recovery, a good friend recommended the Medical Rehabilitation Unit (MRU) at Kenmore Mercy Hospital.
During her stay in the MRU, physical, occupational and speech therapists worked with Bahler every day to help her regain strength and motor skills. She learned to dress, bathe, and even to sing again. Eventually, her husband Peter brought in her viola, and she slowly relearned the instrument she had played for decades.
On August 24, 2010, the staff that had helped Bahler on her journey got to see the results of their hard work. Bahler played a brief passage on her viola from the Bourree of Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in front of a small audience gathered in the Kenmore Mercy’s MRU.
She was there to help celebrate the unit’s top 10 percent ranking by Uniform Data System, a medical rehabilitation ratings agency. Kenmore Mercy’s MRU was the only facility in Western New York to achieve this national recognition out of more than 800 qualifying in-patient rehab facilities across the county.
“This was an amazing journey, a terrifying journey, and a wonderful journey,” Bahler told hospital staff before her performance. “You guys really took me from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can.’”