Don L.

Don L.

Donald "Don" Luft grew up in Fresno in the 1940s. He recalls his mother and father serving the community, valuing hard work, and most of all, cherishing their family.

“I come from a modest upbringing where my parents worked hard to provide for my brother and me. I didn’t know much about material wealth, I just remember being a happy child in a loving home with my family,” said Don fondly of his childhood.

These values led Don to live a life filled with appreciation and a dedication to helping others.

Don has a lot to be thankful for.

"I had the opportunity to do many things in my life, such as serve in the military, graduate from college, meet the love of my life, Claudia, have a beautiful family, a wonderful career in marketing, and meet so many people across the country and the world."

Don lived a life of purpose, rich with family and friends.

Then, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"Although this was difficult news, I accepted it, learned as much as I could, and never let it stop me,” said Don.

Don's motivation led him to do extensive research on the neurological disease. Don became his own advocate. He found valuable resources from physicians and organizations such as the Parkinson’s Institute in San Jose, California.

“With Claudia by my side helping me navigate through finding the right doctor, medication, and anything else I needed, I couldn’t help but be positive."

Through his primary care physician, Dr. Gade, Don met Dr. Periminder Bhatia.

Dr. Bhatia encouraged Don to continue taking his medication and to add physical therapy to his regimen. He referred Don to San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital for outpatient therapy.

It was there that Don met Tom, his physical therapist. Tom, who specializes in neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s, saw Don several times during the week. “I went to my physical therapy appointments regularly and gradually started seeing improvement in my overall ability to move. I never missed a session,” said Don.

Then, one day, before his appointment with Tom, Don experienced a considerable amount of stiffness and pain, which had recently become progressively worse. “I remember talking to Tom about canceling my therapy," he recalled. "It was conversation with Tom, along with a consult with Dr. Bhatia, which led to an inpatient stay at SJVRH,” explained Don. By that same afternoon, a seamless transition to SJVRH took place and Don started his inpatient rehabilitation journey.

“Inpatient therapy was the best thing for me. I’m so thankful to have worked with great inpatient staff because I made great gains,” said Don. “Working with therapists for three hours per day made a remarkable difference and allowed me to go home after a week or so."

"Everyone has provided me with exceptional care. I’m so grateful for the amount of work they invested in me,” Don added.

Today, Don is doing well. He looks forward to getting back to outpatient therapy with Tom to continue where he left off - a road to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Together with his team, “Claudia, Tom, and Dr. Bhatia,” Don continues living a positive and full life!