Mike Fusciardi graduated with an associate degree from Macomb in 2017, completed the Pharmacy Technician Program in December and has been employed at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak since February. None of which may seem remarkable until you consider that ten years ago he was a stroke patient at that same hospital.
For the first decade of this millennium, Fusciardi worked as a supervisor at an Office Max. After that, as he tells it, “I worked at regaining the use of my mind, vision, tactile sensation and speech.”
In 2010, Fusciardi developed intense migraines prior to suffering three strokes. He was left visually impaired and partially paralyzed on the right side, and had difficulty speaking, reading and writing. The source of the migraines and the strokes was diagnosed as a rare autoimmune disease: antiphospholipid antibody syndrome. If left untreated, it causes blood clots to form. Fusiciardi considers himself lucky that his was in the brain.
“Most men undiagnosed with this end up with the clots in their heart or lungs. You don’t come back from those,” relates Fusciardi. “A brain can rewire with work. And, with a lot of work and many years of study and therapy, I finally reentered the workforce, due in no small part from the help of Macomb Community College.”
Macomb’s Special Services counselors, as well as faculty, made sure that Fusciardi had the accommodations and assistance necessary to learn at his own pace. This allowed him to discover that he had a “predisposition” for chemistry and he soon pegged the University of Alaska for continuing his studies. But first, he reasoned, he needed a regular paycheck and skills that could travel to Fairbanks with him.
“Pharmacy technicians are needed here, and in Alaska,” says Fusciardi. “The externship arranged by Macomb got me a foot in the door at Beaumont and a step closer toward my goals.”
Beside Fusciardi throughout his lengthy rehabilitation were his parents, who, he says, “worked with me tirelessly to relearn everything.” When he started the six-month Pharmacy Technician Program in 2019, he thought he might have difficulty with the math, which had been the hardest to relearn.
“It turned out to be easy for me because it is a simplification of chemistry math,” relates Fusciardi, “my new discipline.”
Fusciardi passed his certification exam on the first try, and acknowledges being hired by Beaumont for its hospital pharmacy has special significance. “Working at the hospital that diagnosed and treated my disease and my strokes makes a bookend to my struggle to recuperate. After I have a few years under my belt, I’ll try to get myself to Alaska, a dream of mine,” says Fusciardi. “I will always thank Macomb and the instructors that made it possible for me to have this second lease on life.”