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Wisconsin man fights for normal life, fun after pedestrian accident

"I served 14 months in Vietnam and came home without a scratch," a 63-year-old Wisconsin roofing contractor recently told a newspaper. "And then this happened."

He was going to a church about 90 miles east of La Crosse that Sunday morning 21 years ago. He knew he had plenty of time to get there that morning to serve as an usher, so he decided to take a jog around his Nekoosa neighborhood. Unfortunately, a Sunday drunk driver was on the same road at the same time and slammed her car into him.

In that car accident, he suffered a serious brain injury, requiring six and a half hours of surgery.

His right arm was severely bruised and swollen, he remembers now. Doctors were unconcerned about his normal-looking left arm.

But the Wisconsin man who now spends winters in Arizona remembers that he suffered relentless pain in that left arm, despite its normal outward appearances.

When doctors took a closer look at it, they made a troubling discovery: The arm had been crushed in the car accident. Doctors said the arm could be saved with surgery, but that the operation would put his recovery from his brain injuries in jeopardy.

The man's wife recalls that the decision they had to make was clear: The arm had to be sacrificed.

Doctors amputated it just below the elbow. Later, they had to do a second operation and amputate further, this time above the left elbow.

He refused to give in to the injuries he'd suffered, however. He immediately began planning his return to the roofing business.

After he was discharged from the hospital, he taught himself to climb a ladder one-handed and resumed making a living.

"If someone tells me I can't do something, I am determined to prove them wrong," he told an Arizona newspaper.

Today, he enjoys winters in the Arizona sun, playing softball and golf (he has a 15 handicap) with his snowbird buddies.

Source: "Wisconsin native returns to sports after near-fatal accident," Rich Bolas, Feb. 7, 2012

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