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Holiday in hospital still fulfilling for local family
Relatives give loved one a special Christmas as she recovers from stroke
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Dessie Martin helps her sister, Elizabeth Worley, open Christmas presents at the transitional care unit of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center on Thursday. Worley had a stroke on Dec. 14 and has been getting therapy for the damage caused to the right half of her body due to the stroke. Christmas marks the half-way point in Worley's 20 days in therapy. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Elizabeth “Bea” Worley suffered a stroke Dec. 14, effectively changing her family’s Christmas plans.

She lived with her sister, Dessie Martin, and her brother-in-law, Roy Martin, in Jefferson, but now she’s staying at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s Transitional Care Unit.

Thursday, the Martins visited the Transitional Care Unit at New Horizons Limestone to celebrate Christmas with Worley.

“We brought some presents,” Dessie Martin said. “And we’re going to Skype with some family in Colorado, because these gifts are from them.”

The Martins’ son, Russell, daughter-in-law, Erica, and grandson, Ezekiel, watched their aunt open her Christmas presents in the care unit via Skype. She received a flower-painted mug and plate, and a small teddy bear with a Santa hat that said “2014” across the front.

“She collects bears,” Dessie Martin said. “So she normally gets a Christmas bear for the year.”

Dessie Martin said her daughter-in-law is an artist, so one year she drew a bear for Worley and put the year on it.

“It was really cute,” Worley said.

Russell Martin said he wanted his aunt to have the mug and plate because she loves tea and toast in the morning.

Worley is undergoing 20 days of therapy at the care unit following her stroke.

“The stroke affected her right side, and she’s right-handed,” Dessie Martin said. “So here, they feel like they can do rehabilitation in 20 days, because that’s all Medicare pays for.”

Worley has shown improvement already, however. She can move and lift her arm and she’s feeding herself with her left hand.

“It’s hard to do,” Worley said. “But I am definitely getting better.”

Her speech is slightly affected, so she’s undergoing physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Dessie Martin said she was grateful for the opportunity for her family to celebrate Christmas in an unconventional way Thursday.

Worley, whose eyes welled up with tears as she hugged her teddy bear with her left arm, thanked her family members watching her on the computer.

“It is wonderful to see them,” she said. “I just love them all.”