Patrick Thomas

Patrick is a certified nursing assistant of 14 years and describes his career as a true labor of love. He enjoys spending time with family, watching football and basketball, and fishing. Until most recently, he viewed himself as a man of generally good health, only suffering from high blood pressure.

Two to three weeks before Patrick’s health scare, he felt unusually tired and drained. He assumed it was due to working extra shifts during the pandemic or possibly even heat exhaustion from a birthday fishing trip. Little did Patrick know, they were warning signs of something much more severe.

Early one morning, Patrick woke to use the restroom. In an attempt to stand, he found himself stumbling to get to the bathroom. Initially, he thought he had tripped on something laying on the floor, but once in front of a mirror, he discovered it was something much more serious. Staring back at him was a face completely drooped on one side. Since Patrick was a CNA, he immediately knew he was having a stroke. He quickly took an aspirin and yelled for his wife, Lisa, to call 911. His wife assisted him to the couch and together they worked through F.A.S.T. (Face, Arm, Speech, and Time), an acronym used to detect and enhance responsiveness to a stroke. He was able to stay coherent and calm for both him and his wife while they awaited the arrival of paramedics.

Patrick was rushed to Kaiser’s ER. “I thought I was dying,” he recalled. To make things worse, his wife was unable to accompany him, as COVID-19 restrictions prevented visitors from entering the hospital.

After being admitted for a stroke, which resulted in a four-day stay at Kaiser, Patrick was transferred to San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital, a place he had never heard of. “I was very nervous because I had never needed medical assistance this way before,” he said. The only thing he was certain of, was he would not be leaving SJVRH in a wheelchair. “I’m walking out of here,” he proclaimed.

Despite the challenge of being isolated from friends and family, Patrick dug deep and pushed himself with the guidance and support of his therapists. After a three-week stay, he stood from his wheelchair and did just what he sought out to do; he walked out of the hospital’s two front doors. “I just want to thank the whole staff at SJVRH for having faith in me and my abilities when I didn’t think I could overcome this,” he said.

After being discharged from SJVRH’s acute care, and ultimately released to continue outpatient therapy with Kaiser, Patrick requested to complete his journey with SJVRH’s outpatient program. “I wanted to continue my care at a place where I knew therapists generally cared for me and would get me back to my old self,” he said. It is here that Patrick and SJVRH therapists continue to take leaps in getting him back to better.