Bob Marshall, a member of The Becoming Center, led a vibrant life. The former chief operating officer of two financial firms was enjoying traveling and playing golf with Donna, his partner for more than 20 years. Bob’s years of hard work made for a comfortable retirement until an event eight years ago changed his life forever. Bob’s days of working hard were far from over. With courage, determination and the support of his family, Bob is living proof that life is what we make of it.
In June 2006, at the age of 66, Bob underwent a biopsy. Although he was on antibiotics before and after the procedure as a precaution, he subsequently developed a serious fever. A few days later, while Donna was in New York, he drove his SUV from his home in Ambler to check on work being done on his other property in Worcester, Montgomery County. After the crew left for the day, Bob got into his SUV and suddenly passed out. He remained there unconscious from 2pm until 7:30am the following day when the crew arrived to complete their work. Bob was rushed to the hospital where doctors discovered he was in septic shock, a severe infection, as a result of the biopsy. His organs were shutting down and he was close to death.
“I was in the ICU for five weeks. I wasn’t doing very well,” Bob says. “The most important thing they did for me was remove my gall bladder, which was infected. After that I immediately started to get better.”
However, getting better was no simple task. Bob couldn’t sit up in bed. He wasn’t even able to speak. From there, he was transferred to a rehab hospital, where he received eight weeks of inpatient therapy. Feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, Bob recalls the pivotal moment when he looked at Donna, and managed to speak the following words, “We will not just exist, we will live.”
Doctors feared a lack of oxygen to Bob’s brain, while he was unconscious in the SUV, left permanent damage. Thankfully, a series of brain scans determined the damage was minimal and recovery was possible.
“When I got to rehab, I couldn’t even sit up. I worked twice a day, three hours each,” he says. “By the time I left, I could walk by holding a rail.”
Bob continued with outpatient therapy to build his strength, coordination and improve his speech. After nine months of hard work he was able to get around with a walker.
“I was an overachiever in every way in life. I realized my whole life was preparing me to apply myself now. I was not going to say, ‘Now I can walk with a walker,’ I wanted more,” Bob says.
That’s when Bob joined the Becoming Center and began working with Kinesiologist Brian Kilrain.
“From the very first day we hit it off. Brian is very in touch with people and easy to work with,” says Bob. “He is compassionate but demanding. The Becoming Center has everything I need,” he added.
Four years later, at age 72, Bob spends up to three hours at the Becoming Center, working in the gym and swimming pool. He walks two miles without a cane. He started golfing again and jokingly says he has given Brian some lessons. He even got back his driver’s license.
“I have a full life and a lot of time devoted to being healthier,” says Bob. Speaking still presents a challenge, as the words come out slower than they did prior to his illness, but Bob isn’t dismayed.
“I still go to speech coaching once a week. I’ll continue going as long as I can,” he says.
Through it all, he says he has been able to remain positive and focused thanks to self-motivation and the love of his now-wife, Donna.
“She may be the single biggest reason I have been able to do this,” Bob says. “She is tough and courageous.”
After all they went through together, when Bob was well enough to speak he told Donna he wanted to marry her “as soon as I could walk down the aisle.”
Bob and Donna will celebrate their seventh wedding anniversary this February.
The Becoming Center is a friendly community health and wellness center located on the campus of Artman in Ambler and service of Liberty Lutheran. Since 1994, the Becoming Center has offered personalized, comprehensive, preventive and restorative holistic wellness for active adults seeking to improve their fitness and overall wellbeing. Click here for more information.