Resident recovering from life-threatening injuries

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Ten months ago, Gregg Smith was laying in a hospital bed not sure whether he would walk again, talk again or live to see another day. Today, he walks 2.3 miles a day -- sometimes more.

"I walk uphill to get my heart rate going," he proudly said.

Not so long ago, Smith was a cable technician for Bresnan Com-munications. That all changed July 14, 2004, when Smith was heading to a service call in Walden. He fell asleep at the wheel and rolled his vehicle twice. He broke three bones in his neck and three in his fingers.

"He should have died that day," Smith's wife, Judy, said. "No one could have figured why he didn't."

The doctors compared his injuries to the ones suffered by Christopher Reeve, and said he was lucky not to be paralyzed, much less alive.

The doctors told him it would be a long process to get any movement back. Smith found recovery even harder when he suffered a stroke that debilitated the left side of his body for a week.

Smith's setbacks and his perseverance are why his wife now calls him "determined," instead of "stubborn." Judy never doubted that he would give all his effort to a full recovery -- it's just the way he is.

"If he could get out of bed or stand up, he would," she said.

Although the doctors were not sure whether he would recover, Smith knew he would. He said they should have just looked at his father to see his makeup. When Gregg was younger, his father suffered serious burns on his legs when a car he was working on leaked fuel. Doctors told him he never would walk again, but he did.

"My dad had a never die attitude," Smith said. "And I picked up that attitude."

Doctors told Smith he may never walk again, but much to the amazement of everyone, he began walking the length of the parallel bars at physical therapy six weeks after his accident.

"I don't know if I could describe it," Judy said.

Smith said the doctors and physical therapists were amazed at his rapid progress, and he fed off of their excitement.

"I pushed myself," he said. "They had to slow me down."

Judy said it was amazing to see his progress but "frustrating to see him frustrated about things. Along with the doctors, Judy is astonished at his recovery."

"It's just a continuation of a miracle story," she said.

Smith said he never thought about quitting because he had too much more in life he wanted to do. Smith describes his recovery as tough but rewarding.

"I love seeing the grandkids and being able to hold them and showing that I can do things that doctors didn't think I could do," he said.

Smith also credits God for keeping him alive and giving him enough strength to persevere through his recovery.

"Keep relying on God," he said. "Let God guide us, and it will all work out for what he has in store for us."

Although Smith has recovered quickly, it has not been easy on him or his wife. Smith said the toughest part for him was "learning to walk again," and admits he still gets frustrated at times.

"My left hand wasn't coming back as fast," he said. "On some things my patience just wears thin."

Judy thinks some of here husband's success is because of the community. She said they received more than 200 cards and plenty of prayers and blessings.

"Craig is one tremendous community," she said. "They've been awesome."

Although Smith is still not completely recovered, he is far ahead of schedule. Doctors told Smith his neck has a range of motion of a person that hasn't ever had a broken neck.

"They (doctors) can't believe how well I've healed and how fast," he said.

Smith's health recently allowed him to take a trip to Canada to go fishing with family members and he said he was able to do everything asked of him. He recently passed his driver's evaluation test and is waiting on doctors' approval to drive again.

"That was a pretty big goal for me," he said.

Smith hopes to get back to work in the future and should find out from doctors in Sept-ember if he is fit enough to get a job.

In the meantime, he plans to fish and hunt and hopes he and his wife can retire and take a trip to Alaska to travel the state.

It has been a long, tough journey for Gregg and Judy Smith, but they are certainly glad with the way it turned out.

"It's been a long 10 months, but an amazing one," Judy said. "One that we're grateful for."

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