The Best of Both Worlds:

University Park Woman Relies on Experts at UCMC and Ingalls to Help Her Heal

When Lalita Isbell took her first ambulance ride in May, she admits the experience was a bit unsettling. The 65-year-old University Park woman was on her way from the University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park to Ingalls.

After a brief stay at UCMC for treatment of near-crippling neuropathy in her legs and feet, doctors there referred her to the Ingalls Center for Rehabilitative Medicine to complete her treatment and start her on the road to recovery.

“Initially I was feeling kind of washed out. I couldn’t imagine my next step,” she remembers. “I got to Ingalls, and it was late. I cried myself to sleep the first night.”

But that all changed the next morning when the Ingalls Rehab team greeted her with a smile.

“Everybody was so pleasant,” she said. “It was a really good first morning, and things continued like that throughout my stay.”

Lalita’s problems began earlier in May when she started falling in her home. “I was falling everywhere,” she remembers. When she fell and hit her head right in front of her daughter one day, she went to see a specialist at UCMC, where she’d undergone a kidney transplant in 2015.

Though the transplant saved her life, complications after surgery can include peripheral neuropathy – or weakness, numbness or pain in the extremities – in Lalita’s case, her legs.

“I had a lot of weakness in my legs and feet,” she said. At Ingalls, rehabilitation specialist Michael Marinko, MD, developed a treatment plan that included daily exercise and had her fitted for leg braces to help her regain the ability to walk. “Dr. Marinko was great,” she said. “The entire team was great. I can’t even begin to tell you. They pushed me forward, and kept me going.”

By the time she was discharged nearly two weeks later, Lalita was using a walker, which she still relies on – at least for now. Her goal is to regain even more independence, start driving again and pick up where she left off.

“I was really active before,” the retired youth counselor explains. “I’m still not doing a dance or anything, but I’m a lot better than I was. My goal is to do the regular stuff I used to, like go see a movie or visit my friends.”

“I can’t say enough good things about UCMC or Ingalls,” she adds. “My kidney is doing great, and I’m getting stronger every day.”

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