By Kelsey Givens
From a bedridden hospital patient who had given up on life, to vibrant and active volunteer, a two-year battle with illness taught one woman how to trust, and more importantly how to believe in herself again.
Bobbetta “Bobbie” Roof turned 45 years old Oct. 1, a feat doctors said several times over the last few years they didn’t believe she could achieve.
Not only has Roof made it to this milestone, she is thriving. And for the first time in two years she was able to celebrate her birthday not as a patient of the rehabilitation center that helped her get back on track, but as a volunteer.
Though most people would appreciate a birthday party thrown in their honor to celebrate, Roof was especially thankful, as she said it was the doctors and staff at the Pahrump Health and Rehabilitation Center who helped motivate her throughout her recovery, bringing her to where she is today.
“Today (Oct. 1) is six months since I left here in a wheelchair,” said Roof, who is now able to walk the halls of the center freely. “And when I first came here I couldn’t even roll over. They had to physically roll me over to do anything,” she added.
Her journey from bedridden patient to active volunteer, seeking her certification as an activities director began several years ago when she felt ill shortly after moving to Pahrump.
“When I say I was sick, I mean in the hospital, I don’t mean a little cold. I mean in the hospital and/or rehab facility. And in two years, I was never home longer than a month,” she said.
Roof said she can’t recall all of the events from her time in the hospital, she was not always coherent. But she did understand she was finally admitted for care after her husband called an ambulance to their home when illness spiraled out of control.
After she was admitted, the process of healing would require Roof to fight one illness after another, keeping her bed bound and inactive.
“We went to the hospital and the doctors were trying to find out, we were all trying to find out what was keeping me sick. Basically it came down to infections, one right after another,” she said. “And I was just lying in a bed, doing nothing and wasting away.”
About a year after Roof had become gravely ill, her husband and insurance company arranged for her to go the Pahrump Health and Rehabilitation Center to recover and stay close to her family.
“I’d see my daughter once a week on Saturdays and my husband twice a week, for a year. It was like being divorced,” she said.
Though she was brought to the rehabilitation center to get better, Roof said she had no interest in participating in her therapy when she first arrived.
Corinna Denhart, director of nursing for Pahrump Health and Rehabilitation said she remembered seeing Roof for the first time and deciding right then and there she wasn’t going to let her give up on life, no matter how sick she was.
“When she first got here I took one look at her and I go ‘oh no, no, no, no, no — she is too young, we are going to get her up and we are going to start therapy.’ And that’s exactly what we did,” she said.
“And I fought it,” Roof said laughing at the memory.
“Yes she did, she fought it tooth and nail, but you know what, we didn’t listen and we didn’t give up,” Denhart added smiling.
Though she seems to be a highly motivated and active woman now, Roof said the rehabilitation was hard work, adding to her initial refusal to cooperate with her therapy.
“I was done, I mean it was …it took me four times to learn how to walk, in two years. I mean there comes a point where you just give up, but they wouldn’t let me,” she said.
Slowly but surely, Roof began to get better. Despite a setback of being sent back to the hospital over Christmas one year, Roof was able to return and begin again, where she was pushed by Denhart and other employees to begin making progress in her recovery.
“It’s daily encouragement,” Denhart said. “You don’t want to put it in giving the patient a choice. You say ‘c’mon let’s just do this, or you know ‘it’s time to go to therapy.’”
“Or ‘try this,’ I heard that a lot. ‘You try it, you can’t do it, we’ll leave you alone.’ And they could tell when I was trying and not trying. They’d call me on everything,” Roof added.
After months and months of hard work, Roof was told on April 1 of this year it was finally time for her to return home.
“That’s what we’re here for and that’s what it’s all about. Seeing that patient get up and walk or return to their normal state of being. That’s all the reward you need,” Denhart said.
Just because Roof had been discharged as a patient, didn’t mean she was ready to put the Pahrump Health and Rehabilitation Center behind her. She decided to come back as a volunteer.
Now she works throughout the week to encourage patients and help staff make sure everyone gets the attention they need to become another success story like her.
“I come in here and it’s, ‘how are you doing? How’s it going? How’s your daughter? How’s your husband doing?’ It’s not like oh, ‘you left, why are you back?’ You know they’re happy to see me still. It’s a joy to come in here. And I can’t think of a bad day. They ask how I’m doing and it’s wonderful, marvelous and everything good. Because I had the worst, and now it’s time to help them be happy for someone else,” she said.
Roof has decided to continue giving back to the people at the center who gave her so much in another way as well, by bringing in additional activities and services she’ll learn about as she works to become a certified activities director.
“This was my start in the community,” Roof said. “I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have been here … But this is me now, I’m finally myself after years because the hospital part was just two years. It was the time before it that I kept getting sicker and sicker and sicker.”
Roof said she hopes her story can be an inspiration to anyone who may be in a position like she was, to show them they too can get better if they put their mind to it.
“Believe in yourself. That’s what it comes down to. Because I wasn’t believing in myself, and when I finally figured it out and believed in myself, because of everybody’s input, that’s when it clicked,” she said.
“I learned about unconditional love, I learned that people that don’t even know you can care about you, so quit questioning it. It’s just so much I learned in a little amount of time,” she said.
Both Roof and Denhart added the center is always looking for more volunteers to just spend time with their residents. Anyone interested can call Pahrump Health and Rehabilitation Center at 751-6600 to set up an interview.