The Japanese have a saying: a person is whatever room they’re in. On the day of March 20th, 2017, Sheri McSheehy was in a Goodwin Community Health conference room full of policy makers and muffins.
A patient and former member of the Goodwin Board of Directors, Sheri had come to the morning’s Legislative Breakfast to share her story with the state representatives in attendance – a story that began almost two years ago with what she thought was a migraine.
“In October of 2015, I had a bad headache which turned out to be a brain bleed from a brain aneurysm,” remarked Sheri in front of a packed room of policy makers. “They sent me to Maine Medical for a few weeks, but when I got home it was a six month wait to see a neurologist. So I came to Goodwin and said ‘Ok, what do we do?’”
A 38 year native of Strafford County, Sheri and her husband Jack had been Goodwin patients for over two decades; coming in for everything from primary care to the birth of their youngest daughter. Both self-employed, Jack as a carpenter and Sheri the owner-operator of a local restaurant, Goodwin’s model of affordable patient care fit right into the family’s way of life. She’d go on to join the Board of Directors and play an active role in the building of the new Somersworth facility, all while she was going back to school and achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a massage therapist. But her 2015 aneurysm and the road to recovery had other plans for Sheri.
“I missed massage terribly and I was so angry from being without it — everything I worked for was lost,” she recalled. “But through counseling and my physical therapy, I saw that my life wasn’t over.”
Sheri spoke warmly of the Goodwin doctors, physical therapists, and counselors who have been by her side these past few years, but she credits much of her success to Goodwin’s Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) program: a weekly patient-led support group that puts an emphasis on setting achievable goals for those recovering from long-term illnesses or disabilities. Without costing its participants a single dime, WHAM provides patients with a compassionate hub of friends and neighbors, each of whom understand that potent role that a sense of community plays for striving to heal.
While she views WHAM as the turning point in her struggle against the chronic headaches and fatigue that come after an aneurysm, Sheri will tell you that even a support group can come with its own share of obstacles.
“I remember the first night I was there for a meeting: we were in a large conference room and right next door was a meeting of the very Board of Directors that I sat on before my aneurysm. I stopped and thought to myself ‘I’m in the wrong room.’ But then I realized that anyone can have a setback like this: it doesn’t matter who you are or how much money you make. Yeah, I felt broken — but I know I’m gonna get fixed.”
We’re admittedly a little biased, but from our point of view any room Sheri is in is always the right room.