GLEN COVE, NY -- Every day, Peyara “Pinky” Begum, 26, walks three blocks to her gym to take a high-intensity Zumba dance class.
This demanding exercise schedule still amazes her mother, Sakina Kamal, of Flushing, Queens, who knows what it took to get there.
In April 2013, Ms. Begum was working in Manhattan as a manager at Victoria’s Secret. One morning, she woke with a headache, feeling weak and nauseous. The next day she lost consciousness in her doctor’s office and was brought to LIJ Medical Center. Ms. Begum had suffered a brain hemorrhage.
She underwent a craniectomy at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH). The procedure involved removing a portion of the skull to relieve pressure on the brain. Ms. Begum spent a month in a medically induced coma in the neurosurgical intensive care unit at NSUH before emerging and giving her mother a “thumbs up” sign.
Family members arranged for Ms. Begum to be transferred to the new inpatient Brain Injury Unit at Glen Cove Hospital.
“At first, Pinky was unable to speak, eat or walk, use the left side of her body, or breathe without help,” said Barry Root, MD, chairman of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Glen Cove Hospital. “She became well-known in rehab for her enthusiastic attitude and perseverance.”
Patients at the 10-bed Brain Injury Unit benefit from a multidisciplinary clinical team, including physiatrists, a neuropsychologist, psychiatrists, rehabilitation nurses, social workers, and physical, speech, recreational and occupational therapists.
“I kept pushing every day,” recalled Ms. Begum about her recovery so far. “One of the hardest things was putting on my shirt by myself.”
After a one-month inpatient rehab stay, Ms. Begum was discharged to the hospital’s outpatient rehab department.
“Pinky is a fighter,” said Sarah Khan, DO, a traumatic brain injury specialist at Glen Cove Hospital. “She made remarkable progress toward compensating for her vision problems and learning community skills.”
After her outpatient stint at Glen Cove, Ms. Begum decided to volunteer at the hospital’s Brain Injury Unit.
“I wanted to give back,” said Ms. Begum. “I tell patients, ‘Don’t give up. I’ve been in your situation, and I know what it feels like.’ Many didn’t believe me until I showed them photos of myself in the hospital.”
Passionate about living independently, Ms. Begum said, “I’m looking forward to getting back to daily life. Eventually, I want to go back to work full-time — at Victoria’s Secret.”