When Melvin Cox fell from his logging truck last month, his first thought was that he was lucky to have landed on his feet. He soon realized that the 12-foot fall shattered both of his heels, broke most of his toes and fractured his right ankle. He lay on the ground in pain for an hour before the next truck arrived to help him.
After five days in Kremmling Memorial Hospital, Cox was transferred to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, where he would spend the next three weeks having titanium plates and 17 screws surgically implanted into his feet.
"The doctor said that the heels are the worst bones to break," Cox said. "And the most painful."
Surviving bone grafts on both feet and a fight with two blood clots, one entering his right lung, Cox thought the worst was behind him when he returned home to Craig on Sept. 9.
The bills already were piling up by the time he crawled into his rented home on School Street that he shares with his fiancee.
With eight weeks between arriving home and the beginning of physical therapy, Cox needs full-time care just to handle day-to-day life.
Just beginning his lifelong dream of becoming self-employed, Cox had to give up his newly purchased logging truck after the accident because he was uninsured and could not make payments on his rented wheelchair.
His fiancee, Beth Schrimsher, is taking care of Cox as best she can, but that also is keeping her from working.
"The outcome could have been so much worse," Schrimsher said. "I know this community. I've seen them pull together. We thought we would give it a shot."
Schrimsher is asking for support.
Cox and Schrimsher are trying their best to recover from the accident, but even getting a wheelchair access ramp into the house has been a struggle.
They are hoping members of the community will step forward and help, financially or with time and materials to build a ramp into the house.
"We want people to know that the most important thing a person can give is their time," Schrimsher said. "It's the most precious thing."
With three weeks behind him since his surgery, Cox still is still trying to overcome the pain.
"It's painful to crawl and get into the chair. It's a hard change," he said. "It's hard to adapt."
Cox is looking forward to walking, even if it is painful. Right now, he can't even go into the kitchen with his wheelchair because it won't fit.
The Moffat County High School graduate would like to keep his dream of being self-employed one day, but for now, he is taking life, "day by day, one day at a time."
"One day you're walking, and the next day, it will be a year before you are like you were before the accident," Cox said.
An account has been set up at Bank of Colorado in Cox's name for those wishing to help with medical expenses.