Steamboat Springs At first, it was one step. Leaving the Craig Hospital rehabilitation center near Denver, Clayton Huyser began to walk on his own for the first time since he suffered a major stroke nearly eight months before.
“Just rising and walking out of that chair and walking felt amazing,” Huyser said.
That first step in August was just the beginning of a long rehabilitation process for Huyser.
After suffering from a rare stroke in Steamboat Springs on Jan. 29, which was caused by a malformation of veins in his brain, Huyser experienced a host of side effects from the disease.
Huyser at first was unconscious and went through a coma, had a portion of his skull removed and replaced, and had several surprises during his recovery.
“It’s been a long road, for sure,” Huyser said as he sat in his condo on Tamarack Drive with his fiancee, Darcy Wisecup.
That road included many miles for Wisecup, who traveled to be with Huyser as he moved from hospital to hospital. She visited him three days a week and then worked for another four.
She’s now Huyser’s second set of hands, helping him and giving him cues as he recovers the cognitive ability he lost in the stroke.
When he’s talking, Huyser takes a moment before answering questions about dates or things that have happened in the past and looks to Wisecup to make sure he’s not getting it confused.
For the most part, his memory is back. He remembers parts of his recovery, and he’s able to answer almost every question. At first, Huyser said, his memory was as short as 30 seconds, and after a phone call, he might have remembered the name of the person he was talking to but not what they talked about.
He jokes that when he first moved into his new condo unit, he would become confused making his way to his own door, and it took him several tries to identify where downtown Steamboat Springs is in relation to his house.
He’s working with an occupational therapist on grocery shopping, traveling through the store with a clipboard to figure out the aisles that he needs to visit to get all of his groceries.
The couple has bigger plans for the future.
The first step is to get Huyser walking without a cane, something he can do for short distances, but one of his legs buckles outward. He also doesn’t have control of his left arm yet.
When he’s ready, he’ll have his job as a small tools mechanic at TIC available for him. His co-workers have raised more than $9,000 to help pay for his medical costs.
Once Huyser’s back up to full speed, he and Wisecup said they’ll set a date for their wedding and maybe move to Florida, where ice won’t pose such a danger as Huyser navigates the streets.
Until then, Huyser will be taking one step at a time with Wisecup, his family and his friends at his side.