A DeFuniak Springs man, who underwent brain surgery earlier this year, continues his fight toward recovery.
On July 25, Terry "TJ" Feazel's life changed forever after he collapsed on his front porch following a massive stroke. Fast forward more than four months later, and the once active and beach going 36-year-old is finally on the road to recovery.
"I can't say lucky, we're blessed, God blessed us," said Lauren Feazel, TJ's wife. "Some things are just too hard for any person to deal with, and yet, somehow, it all worked."
After collapsing on that day in July, Lauren said she first thought Terry's symptoms seemed flu-like — since he kept vomiting — but soon realized the severity of his situation after his motor skills worsened.
The couple, originally from Illinois, rushed from one medical facility to the other, leading to a soft-ball sized bleed being discovered in his brain.
"I know for sure though if Lauren hadn't taken me to that second emergency room, I would be dead," Terry said in a text. "That first emergency room sent me home, and if she hadn't, I'd be gone."
The bleed was less than one millimeter from his brain stem, a distance Lauren said either normally kills or leaves its victims in a wheelchair.
Until this point, Terry had been trying to eat and drink normally, but with his ability to swallow hindered so much by the stroke, pneumonia came into the mix.
He was rushed to another facility, where around half of his cerebellum — the area of the brain that regulates muscular control — was removed, in addition to a tracheotomy to combat the pneumonia.
After some time in the ICU, Terry was sent to a facility in Pensacola to recover.
"When we got there, I asked him how long he thought it had been since he had the stroke," Lauren said. "At that point it had been 15 days, and I asked him and he thought it had been two."
Terry's journey includes around four weeks in the ICU and roughly four more weeks recovering at the hospital before he was able to start his rehabilitation program. Lauren said doctors and nurses couldn't believe how quickly he made progress.
"I was the youngest one there," he said.
He said the main challenges he faced during rehab was re-finding his balance, but now he is able to walk with a walker and is improving by the day.
"They kept saying I was a miracle," Terry said.
Lauren said that before Terry's stroke, he showed no signs that anything like this would every happen. After four different doctors and countless tests, a cause has yet to be discovered.
"He played sports, he was very active," she said. "He was the guy everyone called to lift stuff, to do stuff, and help them with things."
While Terry's improving rapidly, his journey isn't over, and the couple was recently dropped by their insurance company.
Before his accident, Terry enjoyed a full schedule working at HarborWalk Village. The couple, once vibrant and living a spur-of-the-moment lifestyle, said they moved to Florida on a whim, and never looked back. Lauren said things like this can sometimes break families apart, but his stroke has brought them closer together. She said in the hospital, after surgery when he wasn't able to say much, Terry would hold up five fingers every time she would leave the room, letting her know just how important her company was to him.
His stroke has hindered him from being able to do the most basic functions, like swallowing regular food, breathing without the help of an oxygen tank and being able to properly speak his mind.
A five-day supply of his specialized food, which he eats through a feeding tube, is $360, and Terry has lost around 60 pounds since the stroke.
To donate to the Feazels and help them during their time of need, visit their gofundme at www.gofundme.com/cn8scw-medical-expenses.