Two decades ago, George Derleth, 77, of Saginaw, slipped and fell on a metal staircase at work. Since then, he’s had a long, 20-year saga of low back pain, five failed back surgeries, and 20 years of physical therapy.
“I’ve gone everywhere trying to get help for my back and legs,” he explains. “HealthSource is the place that I prefer, period!”
Before coming to HealthSource for outpatient physical and occupational therapy, George had already undergone medical treatment and rehabilitation at other facilities with little to show for it. He was barely able to walk in his home. His wife, Patty was dressing and bathing him, helping transfer him in and out of his wheelchair and in and out of bed. He described his life as painful, boring and monotonous, shuffling between watching TV in the bedroom or living room.
George recalls going into his first back surgery after the fall with a pain level of 10. “I came out with an excruciating 15,” he explains. I have prayed for 20 years. The answer that God has given me so far is…no, you’re not going to get better. You’re always going to be hurting, 24 hours a day.”
After his first round of rehabilitation at HealthSource – which included both land and water therapy – both of George’s legs and back got better. He finally saw progress and was soon able to drive himself to appointments, walk in the front doors to the outpatient gym with a walker, and participate in an hour of therapy. “I came in with wheelchair and was able to walk out with a walker,” George says. “So I love this place!”
He also felt good enough to share his woodworking skills with a neighbor. The two now make cabinets and charcuterie boards among other items. “What a great friend,” George says. “He’s been just a blessing to me.”
One of the best parts of therapy at HealthSource is the consistent relationship with dedicated therapists. “Brian and Kelly are very good friends of mine now,” he explains. At other places, he describes having one person for an evaluation, then therapy with an assistant one day and somebody else the next. It was always changing. “At HealthSource, it’s the same people. It makes a world of difference to have the same people all the time, every time I come.”
Unfortunately, during the holidays, George had pneumonia and fell, hitting his head hard enough suffer a concussion. He began 2022 back in therapy. “I’m not quite where I started, but maybe halfway back, so I’m happy.”
He says he’s anxious to walk outside with Patti and hopes to return to playing golf someday…at least 9 holes. He plays poker and euchre occasionally and considers himself lucky. “I don’t expect to ever get better completely. But I sure would like to control my pain so I’m not grouchy to my wife,” he says. “I have good friends, people who encourage me and help me along the way. So I’m very fortunate.”