Don’t Quit: Ira’s Story

Ira Podell was a sports writer and editor for the Associated Press before a benign brain tumor and stroke. After an inpatient stay at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, he now participates in outpatient therapy at Magee Riverfront. Ira shared his story with his speech therapist Aimee Aranguren. 

Aimee Aranguren (AA): Tell us a little about yourself.
Ira Podell (IP): I am sports junkie. I know the Philadelphia fans don’t want to hear it, but I am a Mets fan and have been since birth. My family and friends know me for my dry humor.

AA: What brought you to Magee?
IP: One day I got out of a cab, about a block away from my office in New York, and the next thing I knew, I was talking to an EMT and was told I had had a seizure. I went to the ER and they did a CT Scan. They told me I had a benign brain mass called a meningioma that caused a seizure. I had the meningioma surgically removed and then about a week later while in the ICU, I had a stroke on the right side of my brain. After that, I had another brain surgery because of the brain bleed/stroke.

AA: What keeps you motivated?
IP: What keeps me going is the inner desire to get better and resume my life again. All of my therapies have been very beneficial. My goal is to get back to as close to how I was before, which means living on my own again, working again, etc. It also really helps that my mother has been by my side every step of the way. She advocated for me when I couldn’t. She made sure I got the very best medical and rehabilitation care. She is still always encouraging me. Plus she has renovated her house, the house I grew up in, to accommodate my needs.

AA: What advice do you have for someone going through a similar situation?
IP: Do not quit. Stay as positive as possible. Don’t let the down times get you too down or else it will kill your spirit. The most important factor in your rehabilitation is a positive outlook. The second most important factor is how hard you work. Therapy can be a drag sometimes, but it works if you stick with it.

AA: What goals have you achieved?
IP: My speech has improved a lot. It is clearer and easier to understand. Now I can feed myself again which increases my independence. I can also use my iPhone to read, send emails, and communicate with my friends. My next goal is learning how to use a power wheelchair. It can be tricky since the stroke left me with difficulty seeing on my left side, and my motor skills are slow. But I am getting there.

AA: What have you liked most about your rehabilitation at Magee?
IP: I was at Magee’s acute inpatient rehabilitation for many months, and I am now at one of their outpatient centers. What I like the most about the staff at Magee is their dedication to their patients and attentiveness to detail. I appreciate the staff’s abilities to help formulate a plan to reach my goals.

To learn more about the Stroke Program at Magee, click here.

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