March 19, 2009

Sack recovering from accident

While Trudy made lunch in the kitchen and Shelly worked on the laptop at the dining room table, he came rolling down the hallway in his wheelchair. He had the familiar smile on his face, and his attitude was as cheerful as usual. Although he has sustained a variety of serious injuries, Trent Sack isn’t about to let them keep him down, and he’s optimistic that he’s well on the road to recovery.

It’s been about two months since the miner was injured in a Jan. 11 dragline explosion at the BNI Coal mine. On this sunny March day, Trent’s sister, Trudy Hatzenbihler, had come to Center for a week to help out. His wife, Shelly, was working at her job as a collection officer with the Bank of North Dakota from home using the phone and the computer.

Trent’s injuries were extensive, but he’s not sitting home feeling sorry for himself. Instead he is working hard on his recovery and the hard work is paying off. The best part is that he is alive and here to tell about it today.

His head sustained "deep scalp wounds" that the doctors closed with staples. Shelly said 12 vertebrae in his neck and back were broken and dislocated, causing some spinal damage but fortunately there is no paralysis. Surgeons inserted a titanium rod with 14 screws into his neck. He has four broken ribs.

"I still feel them, especially when I’m in bed," Trent said.

He had a collapsed lung. His right middle and ring fingers were smashed and the back of his right hand needed to be reconstructed using several pins. His right leg was broken "in a least four places above and below the knee." A rod helps stabilize the leg. The right knee cap was also broken. His right ankle and heel were shattered.

"It was bad enough, but thankfully he didn’t have any brain injuries," Trudy said.

Trent was released from the hospital after just three weeks, going home Jan. 29. He receives physical therapy in his home once a week and occupational therapy twice a week in Bismarck in addition to two or three appointments a week with doctors. Also, he does therapy on his own. He has a type of device for stretching his hand for to encourage mobility to return. Doctors have already taken nine pins out of his fingers and hand.


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