Jamestown man adapts to beat his injuriesTen years ago, doctors told Kim Casey he would never walk again.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun
Ten years ago, doctors told Kim Casey he would never walk again.
Casey, 47, Jamestown, who was born and raised in Ellendale, N.D., never let that outlook get his spirits down.
“The more they kept telling me you’re never going to do this or do that, the more I wanted to prove them wrong,” he said.
Casey spent 13 years as a mechanic at Blumhardt Chevrolet and Pontiac in Ellendale before the evening of March 29, 2002.
“It was just a routine day I guess when I was going to unload a Suburban onto a trailer … I went to unhook the chain and that’s when it started rolling down my way,” he said.
Casey said something went wrong in the Suburban’s transmission and it started coming down in his direction. He said he had two options — lie down or try to jump out of the way.
His split-second decision to jump was unsuccessful, and the vehicle hit Casey.
“When I awoke, I just remember I couldn’t feel my legs,” he said.
After being rushed to the hospital and brought in for a surgery that placed two metal rods in his back, Casey was told he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and would never walk again.
Just two weeks after surgery, though, Casey started to gain some feeling in his right leg.
“It was just a little bit at a time, but I started getting more and more feeling down my leg as time went on,” he said.
Today, Casey has almost complete feeling in his right leg and down to the knee in his left leg. He said he is slowly getting more and more feeling further down each leg.
“I’m going to walk again one day — that is my goal,” he said.
Casey has no timetable for when that day will be, and doctors as well as physical therapists have not indicated he would even be able to do such a thing. He isn’t worried about it, though.
“I don’t plan that far ahead,” he said. “When the time comes, the time comes.”
Confined to a wheelchair since being released from the hospital, Casey said it has not stopped him from trying to live his life just as he would with full use of his legs.
“I never know what each day is going to bring, but I try to always stay busy and on the go,” he said.
Those who have interacted with Casey since his move to Jamestown from Ellendale back in 2008 have been inspired by his positive attitude.
“He’s just a delight. I’ve never seen the guy down at all … always with a smile on his face,” said Julie Dunnigan, residential manager at Gardenette Housing, where Casey lives.
Neighbors have commented about Casey’s constant activity as well as how independent he is for someone in a wheelchair.
“To go through what he has gone through and come out the way he has is remarkable,” said Ardel Goff, one of Casey’s neighbors. “He’s always coming up with little inventions and ideas to remain self-sufficient.”
One of Casey’s biggest passions these days is for gardening, which he shares with his next-door neighbor, Levon Kamletz.
“He helps me with my flowers and I help him with his, but honestly he does most of it,” Kamletz said. “It’s marvelous what he does. He’ll just lie down on his stomach and do his planting — he’s very determined.”
Casey has not been able to work for nearly the past three years on doctor’s orders because of complications with a low pressure vein in his left leg.
Prior to that, he worked in sales with Dynamics Marketing in Jamestown and he hopes to get back to that work soon.
For now, he’s enjoying life the best he can and said the only thing that’s quite a bit more difficult is shoveling snow in the winter.
“I’ll admit that’s a little tougher,” he said. “I manage to get by, though.”
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at email@example.com