Mindy Charles suffered two strokes during the same week at the end of last year. Today, the 40-year-old has taken the next step towards living her life fully and now, rather than later, by saying “I do” and to her fiancé, Jay Benke, in the rehabilitation gym at HCA Healthcare’s Medical City Fort Worth — just before Valentine’s Day.
Mindy, who has been working with a variety of therapists to regain use of her right hand and leg, is scheduled to be released from the hospital this week. But Jay didn’t want to wait to reassure the love of his life that he is in this for the long haul: in sickness and in health.
“She was concerned with everything that she’s been through, questioning if I still loved her and was scared that I was going to leave,” Jay explained. “So I said, I’ll just prove to you that I’m not going anywhere, let’s just go ahead and get married.”
With the help of family, friends, their church pastor and Medical City Fort Worth’s inpatient rehabilitation staff, the rehab gym was decorated for the wedding, complete with cake, punch, balloons and more.
The care team even chipped in to supply the traditional “something borrowed, something new and something blue” for the ceremony, lending Mrs. Benke a pair of pearl earrings and gifting her a new necklace and blue bracelet.
“It means the world to have everybody come together like this. All the doctors and nurses and staff here at the hospital have been fantastic,” Jay said, speaking for himself and Mindy, who eschews public speaking for now. She is working with a speech therapist to overcome speech difficulties resulting from her second stroke.
Neurologist Aashish Anand, MD, who provided stroke care for Mindy at Medical City Fort Worth, says she has a good prognosis for recovery.
“It was devastating to see a young patient like Mindy to suffer strokes,” Dr. Anand said. “The good thing was that Mindy’s family recognized the stroke symptoms right away, alerted EMS in a timely manner and got to the hospital quickly to receive treatment. We are very hopeful that, in the next three to six months, she’ll be on the road to recovery and will recover with minimal deficits.”
After leaving the hospital, Mindy will shift to outpatient rehabilitation therapy. “We’re looking forward to getting her home, getting her better and starting the next chapter in our lives,” Jay said.
Wedding guests included family and friends, and rehabilitation team members who have been helping the new Mrs. Benke learn to walk and speak again after her strokes.
Take a look at their special day at Medical City Fort Worth below.