MOVING ON: Community Helps Family Recover

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A Newton family had their lives completely changed in a split second last August. What was supposed to be a "routine" back surgery went terribly wrong, and left Mark Stiles in the hospital for months. Now, he's finally home, but a lot has changed.

“Our baby was crying, and our 20 month old was crying, and Jody came downstairs and looks at me and I was crying,” Mark remembers of his first day home after months in the hospital, “because I couldn't help. I saw her, all I had to was nurture her and hold her and pick her up and my arms wouldn't allow me to do it.”

Ten months ago, picking up his little girl was easy but that was before a "routine back surgery" went horribly wrong.

“There been a lot of nights I haven`t slept just because, you just look at the ceiling and think, what’s happened to me?” said Mark.

August 29th, Mark went into surgery that doctors said would be the answer to back pain caused by an old football injury. But complications during the operation left mark paralyzed. The second surgery only made things worse- internal bleeding led to Mark using a feeding tube for 3 months. After the third operation, he was finally able to begin his recovery. Still, he could barely move.

“It was hard to watch him at first, knowing, here`s the guy I depended on to help me with everything around the house, laundry, yard work and knowing that that`s just not the same Mark that I was used to,” said his wife Jody.

Mark spent more than 6 months in the hospital, including the birth of his 2nd daughter. But Mark never gave up and now hours of physical therapy each day and a positive attitude is starting to pay off.

“My arms are getting a lot stronger; I can lift them. Before I couldn`t lift either arm,” Mark said.

Mark still can't walk, but standing has become a little easier. And he's confident this is just the beginning.

“We just know we`re going to make it. I`ve never lost hope. There’s been times where there wasn`t a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, but there definitely is now,” said Mark.

“I think it is an inspiration. Rather than dwelling on what has happened or the fear of the unknown of what may happen in the long run and the extent of his recovery,” said Jody Stiles, Mark’s sister-in-law.

Mark's positive outlook is drawing nearly as much attention as his situation.

“People are drawn to their situation. I think we can all just relate to it. How your life can change in the blink of an eye,” Michele said. And it's because of that, that so many people are coming out of the wood work to offer their money, support and time. Right now, it's just one more thing the Stiles family is adjusting to, but they admit having all these people to lean on while they get there, helps more than they ever could have imagined.

“It’s not something I’d ever want to do again, but I’ve learned so much from it. And I really truly believe it’s made me a better person,” said Mark.

If he keeps up with physical therapy, doctors say he will be able to walk again, but never the same- he will probably walk with a limp. Family, friends and the Newton community have raised close to $29,000 for Stiles and his family.

An account has also been set up for the family at First Newton National Bank.  Donations may be sent to the bank, c/o Mark Stiles Family, 100 N. 2nd Ave. W., Newton IA 50208.

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