Ray Cope, a 28-year math and science teacher, track coach and technology coordinator at Austin Area School District, remembers everything prior to December 3, 2015, the day he experienced a stroke.
In March of 2015, Ray was snowshoeing and cross-country skiing when he noticed he was experiencing claudication, a cramping pain in the leg caused by obstruction of the arteries. He began working out even harder to try and strengthen himself, but the pain worsened. In November, Ray learned he had a blood clot in his leg and needed bypass surgery on the artery. It was during his stay at the hospital he experienced a hemorrhage and showed signs of stroke.
From that point forward, Ray remembers nothing until December 22, 11 days into his inpatient rehabilitation stay at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie. He was unable to walk or stand when he arrived at HealthSouth Erie and was in a comatose state in which he couldn’t tell what day it was, but was functioning other than his left-sided weakness and vision cuts.
“He could remember the Pythagorean theory,” said Lora Cope, Ray’s wife. “His root memory was there, but he couldn’t put all of the pieces together.”
On December 22, Lora arrived at HealthSouth Erie to visit with Ray. He told her, “I have a doctor’s appointment today at 1 p.m. to get my eyes checked,” and Lora knew he was back.
“It was like a light switch came on and I remembered everything before the stroke,” said Ray.
“So many people made a difference in his outcome,” said Lora. “We continue to go back just to visit because the people at HealthSouth Erie are family.”
Ray walked out of HealthSouth Erie on January 4, 2016. His journey from his comatose state and needing maximum assistance to returning to work as a teacher and track and field coach is an inspiration to the community. Ray had the opportunity to throw the opening pitch at the Erie Seawolves season opener on April 14 and is looking forward to traveling this summer.