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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — As many readers may already be aware, Cara Dempski, the former sports, feature and news reporter for the Colfax Messenger and the Glenwood City Tribune Press Reporter, suffered a massive stroke in December.
Cara left the Messenger and the Tribune to take a job with two newspapers in the southern part of the state last March.
On Friday, December 21, she was covering a car accident for the newspapers where she is employed.
A Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department deputy recognized she was experiencing a medical emergency, put her in his squad car and took her to the hospital in Fort Atkinson.
Cara had suffered a massive stroke.
At Fort Atkinson, they stabilized Cara and then transferred her to St. Mary’s hospital in Madison.
The doctors at Madison determined they needed to do emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain.
As the doctors told her parents, Bob and Linda Dempski of Elk Mound, if they did not perform the surgery, Cara would not live another 24 hours.
Cara came through the surgery, and while she could not talk because of a breathing tube, she was able to sign letters to communicate with her mom and dad.
As it turned out, the stroke had paralyzed the left side of Cara’s body.
Once the breathing tube was out, she was able to talk to her parents and to the medical staff at the hospital.
Cara’s medical condition was touch and go for a while. She developed pneumonia, prompting the doctors to perform a tracheotomy, and with the trach tube in, she could no longer talk — an enormously frustrating situation, as you can imagine.
It is now more than a month later, and Cara has been transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Waukesha.
The tracheotomy tube is out.
And miracle of miracles, she is talking and eating. She also has retained her sense of humor. And she is working hard at physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
For those who know Cara, you will remember she has a head of thick, dark, beautiful, luxurious hair.
When the neurosurgeons performed brain surgery, they were able to shave a narrow spot along her skull to do the surgery so that her thick, dark hair remains.
One day last week, Cara left a voicemail at the Messenger office. Unfortunately, I was not in the office at the time, but it was so good to hear her voice that this reporter, I am not ashamed to admit, cried. She wanted to say “hello” and find out how we were getting along at the Messenger.
I have also been able to text messages back and forth with her.
Along the way, Cara has also started to be able to move her left leg. She has not had movement in her left arm or hand yet — but the therapists believe that movement will come eventually.
As of Friday, January 25, Cara was able to pull herself up on the parallel bars and stand on her own for four minutes.
The therapists are hoping to use an exoskeleton soon to help her start walking again.
Cara says her goal is to leave the rehab facility “under her own power.”
If you are interested in following Cara’s progress, a Caring Bridge website has been set up for her. A Go Fund Me page also has been set up to assist with medical expenses.
Cara would love to hear from former readers in Colfax, Elk Mound, Glenwood City, Boyceville, Downing and Wheeler, too.
As I think we are all aware, we never know when any of us may need a kind word or a message of encouragement.
I have Cara’s permission to publish her address, and you can write to her at — Cara Dempski; ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, Rm. 202;1625 Coldwater Creek Drive, Waukesha, WI 53188.
I also have Cara’s permission to publish her cell number, and you can send her a text at 1-715-523-2851.