Anne Raudsepp Hardy’s mission is to give hope and encouragement to patients — the same hope God gave her after a traumatic brain injury.
In October 2003, then-45-year-old Anne suddenly felt extreme head pain that felt like a bowling ball had smacked her. She could barely stand or walk. A friend had to carry her to the car to get her to the Emergency Department at Saint Luke’s South Hospital.
“I’ve experienced intense pain before. I delivered three babies without medication. But this was worse than anything I could have imagined,” said Anne.
Clinicians performed tests to try to determine the source of her pain, but Anne had a seizure and was transferred to the neurology intensive care unit at Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City.
Anne was unconscious for four days while a ventilator and feeding tube kept her stable. She eventually woke up – coincidentally – on her 46th birthday.
Anne’s care team determined her pain was from a brain bleed caused by vasculitis, an inflammation of blood vessels. Doctors gave her medication to reduce swelling, but the location of the brain bleed caused her to lose the ability to read and write.
“I remember seeing letters and not knowing what they said,” Anne said. “The therapist would hold up a card and ask what it was, and I didn’t know if it was a letter or a number. It was horrifying.”
Speech therapy gradually helped Anne get her life back. She regularly pulled out her speech therapy homework and read things out loud for practice. Recovery was a slow process. It took four years before she could read a book with understanding.
Nineteen years later, Anne has regained her literacy through hard work and determination. She went on to earn a master’s degree in divinity in 2017 and returned to Saint Luke’s Hospital for a clinical pastoral education residency, which she completed earlier this year. During her residency, Anne reunited with occupational therapist Beth Sher, who she worked with in rehab all those years ago.
“Anne and I used to spend time in the therapy kitchen working on a simple recipe and learning ways to adapt it so she could make meals safely and correctly,” Beth said. “She truly is the living breathing mission statement of Saint Luke’s. She got the best care as a patient and is now able to give the best care as a chaplain. Her life continues to demonstrate resilience, faith, and commitment to service.”
Learn more about Saint Luke’s Clinical Pastoral Education Residency – A year-long, full-time program designed for students who wish to achieve competence in pastoral care ministry.