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Area woman's drive and mindset powers her through stroke recovery

Posted at 6:49 AM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 07:50:19-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Jackie Nixon is a competitor.

“I kind of think she has the mindset of an elite athlete,” CHI Health Occupational Therapist Sarah Goodwin said.

“Bring it on. Because whatever you got, I can handle it,” Nixon said.

This past year has been her toughest challenge.

“Stroke rehab is not for the faint of heart,” Goodwin said.

It happened on April 26th of last year. The first to her rescue that day — her dog. Followed by her roommate, Deborah McClain, who Nixon says has been her caretaker every step of the way.

“I never doubted,” McClain said. “I have never doubted that she would get as far as she needs to get to.”

Her family and friends, who came from all over, never left her side while she was hospitalized for a month at CHI Health CUMC Bergan-Mercy.

“My family and friends. I mean they were there for me to support me,” Nixon said. “My siblings were awesome. They were there every day. I was never left alone in the hospital, not even for five minutes.”

Now, 13 months later, with the help of the team at the CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Institute, she’s approaching her final outpatient visit.

“She came in a wheelchair, no movement in her arm at all, not walking much at all. Now, she’s walking independently,” Goodwin said. “We’re still working on arm and hand movement. I would say she’s come further than most people do with the size of her stroke, and it’s because of her mindset.”

“I can’t thank them enough,” Nixon said.

Being the competitor she is, she wanted to work as hard as possible during her three outpatient visits every week.

“I was telling the staff, ‘Is that all you got? Come on, push me, because I’m pushing myself.’” Nixon said. “I think that kind of ticked them off.”

It didn’t. Instead, her drive and personality have inspired everyone around her.

“Jackie talks about how we helped her — I always say the patients come into my life in a time that I need them also,” Goodwin said. “I lost my mom recently and Jackie and I have talked quite a bit about that. It has helped my healing process.”

“You see someone who is working so hard, and what we take for granted, they have to fight every day just to be able to do,” McClain said. “When you have someone like Jackie with her attitude and her mindset, it’s going to happen one way or another.”

“It’s very important that you believe in yourself,” Nixon said. “As Jimmy V said — never give up. Never give up.”

She won’t let this setback stop her from getting back to doing the things she loves.

“I guarantee you by the end of the summer I’ll be holding that fishing pole, because I have some bass to catch.”

Her final outpatient visit is scheduled for June 14, but she won’t be forgetting the team at the CHI Health Immanuel Rehabilitation Institute. She still has business to take care of.

“I got two staff that I need to play basketball with. I’m gonna kick their butts,” she said. “Then I have Sarah, and I’m gonna turn around and kick her butt in golf.”

Nixon passed her speech therapy just four months after her stroke. She says she would practice with music around her home, and that she never was a singer, but she is now.

She will continue physical therapy at home on her own while she continues to gain back movement on her left side.

For more information on strokes and some of the signs, click here.