Kathleen Demas

Katheleen Demas is no stranger to recovering from back surgery. In fact, if you ask her, she’ll tell you she’s become entirely too familiar. After each procedure, Kathleen worked hard to regain her strength and manage her pain. However, her most recent surgery — her fifth overall and third in just over a year — proved to be the most challenging yet.

Recalling how she felt following her fifth back surgery, Kathleen stated, “I felt like I hadn’t even recovered from my previous surgeries before this one.”

Shortly after the procedure, Kathleen returned home, expecting some pain and a few weeks of taking it easy. Unfortunately, she experienced an unexpected, not to mention unwelcome, change in that plan when she passed out in her kitchen one day. Kathleen fell, reinjured her back, and additionally injured her right knee. She could barely move. “I felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck,” she remembered.

After a brief stay at Clovis Community Hospital, Kathleen transferred to San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. Kathleen’s stay at SJVRH was her first experience with an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. “I have just been amazed at the excellence of care,” Kathleen noted. “I have never experienced this kind of care at any hospital I’ve been to.”

Despite the circumstances, Kathleen couldn’t be happier about being a hospital patient this time. She appreciated the frequency and intensity of her therapy, remarking that “each therapist listened to my needs and adjusted each session to meet them.” Kathleen specifically credits Deb, Jacelyn, Shawn, and Kristopher for her progress, adding that they encouraged her during each session.

Outside of her therapy sessions, Kathleen noted how optimistic she felt about San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital’s holistic approach to care. She loved having Dr. Cha see her and encourage her daily, having the option to see visitors between therapy sessions, and even doing some of her sessions outside in the sunshine. “The quality of care was beyond outstanding, every bit of it,” she praised.

Kathleen is now walking over five hundred feet with minimal pain. She wished to share the following words of wisdom with others recovering from back surgery. “First, you have to be gentle with yourself. Don’t push yourself past the point of pain, and be diligent about following the instructions from all of your doctors and therapists. They want you to have quality of life for the rest of your life.”

Now that Kathleen is on the mend, she can’t wait to continue making the most of the head start she got at SJVRH. She looks forward to filling her days with swimming, oil painting, volunteering with the Hinds Hospice Loss Team, and traveling the world.