Press-Republican

Tuesday

November 27, 2012

Strong bond keeps family afloat in crisis

KEESEVILLE — Lives can change in the blink of an eye.

On Sept. 5, Mark Spooner fell from a loading dock while on the job as a truck driver for Denton Publications. He landed on his head, breaking several vertebrae and damaging his spinal cord. 

After spending a month in the Intensive Care Unit at Fletcher Allen Health Care, he was sent to the Special Tree Neurocare Center near Ann Arbor, Mich. His wife, Jan, said they chose that particular facility for its reputation for care of severe spinal-cord injuries but also because their two daughters, Heather Pelkey and Sarah Spooner, and three grandchildren live in that state.

While it’s a comfort to Mark to be able to see his grandchildren regularly, it has created a special set of problems for Jan.

“It is difficult being separated and not knowing for yourself what is going on,” she said from the Keeseville home she now keeps up and running by herself. 

Mark has been in Michigan since Oct. 4, and Jan has been able to see him only a few times. She tries to fly out every other weekend.

“The airlines don’t offer any kind of a discount for medical reasons,” she said. 

TOO EARLY TO TELL

Mark will give his recovery everything he’s got, Jan said.

“He’s one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met. He is determined to beat this. He says, ‘It’s not going to get me down forever. I just have to work hard.’”

For Mark, the work ahead definitely will be hard. Doctors have implanted rods from the top of his shoulders to the middle of his back, Jan said. He has some movement in his arms and legs, which doctors and therapists say is a positive sign. It is too early to tell, however, how much use will return to the appendages.

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