Mark Stiles had chronic back pain almost all his life. Doctors told him the answer to his problems was in a "routine” back surgery in August. The doctors told him in two to three days, he should be back to normal, and in a matter of weeks he would even go back to work. And at first, everything was going according to plan. The doctor had told Mark’s wife, Jody that Mark’s surgery went well, and he was in recovery. But minutes, while Jody was in the hospital cafeteria having lunch, the doctor called back in a panic, “he said this isn't good, I don't like it, he's not moving,” Jody remembered.
Mark remembers waking up from the surgery, “I couldn’t move my fingers, toes, anything. Needless to say I was pretty panicked.” Mark went straight back into surgery, but it wasn't enough. The next week he was back under the knife. Once again, it appeared to have gone well.
“They wheeled me back to my room and I was telling Jody I don’t feel very good,” Mark said. It turned out, he was bleeding internally. At one point, he lost consciousness because his airway was blocked. “I could have lost him that night when he stopped breathing,” said Jody. The doctors warned Jody that Mark could have brain damage, but when Mark woke up, Jody said she knew just by the comments he was making that wasn’t the case. However, that incident did lead to another complication- Mark had to have a feeding tube for 3 ½ months.
After that, the Stile’s took everything one day at a time.
“He's come so far from those 1st days where lying in bed was all he could do,” said Jody, “knowing he went from that to now wheeling himself around in a wheelchair and moving his arms a little more has been very promising for us.”
Mark has spent more than 5 months in hospitals. All of his surgeries happened at hospitals in Des Moines, but in December, he transferred to Skiff Medical Center in Newton. There he has undergone rehabilitation and has been receiving treatment from physical therapists and occupational therapists. Since Newton is his home town, it didn’t take long for word to spread around town.
“He was just a great guy in high school and I haven’t seen him since high school so I just thought there has to be something we can do. So I thought maybe we could just collect a few gift cards,” said Chris Arend. Arend set a goal of about 500 dollars. But with the overwhelming support from former high school classmates, friends and family, and even strangers in the community that goal was surpassed. In less than a month, they raised more than $7560.00 for the family.
“It’s just a testament to his spirit. He's always been such a great guy and everybody loves him. He's a fighter and he always pushes forward that's for sure,” said friend and former high school classmate Reagan Maher.
“I can't believe the love, and how everybody has given. I'm overwhelmed,” said Mark.
After nearly six months in the hospital. Mark gets to go home Monday.
But his friends and family aren't done helping. They are planning a benefit for him April 20th in Newton.
If you want to donate to the Stiles family, a fund has been set up at the 1st Newton National Bank:
Mark Stiles Family
100 N. 2nd Ave. W.
Newton, IA 50208