Havre Daily News
About a month ago, doctors told Greg Skiff that he would be a paraplegic with no chance of walking again.
Now things are looking a bit better for the 40-year-old construction worker, who suffered a shattered vertebra when he fell eight feet from a building in Havre on Jan. 11.
On Jan. 13, he had surgery to fuse the vertebra to four surrounding vertebrae. Skiff said his spinal cord has reopened and the spinal fluids are flowing again.
“They're still not giving me a big chance of walking, only a small chance,” Skiff said in a telephone interview from his room in the rehabilitation section of Benefis Healthcare West in Great Falls on Monday. “Any chance is better than none.”
He said he still doesn't have much feeling in his legs, but every step of his recovery has been better than his doctors originally anticipated.
“I'm doing pretty good,” Skiff said.
His fall happened on the job, so worker's compensation has helped with the bills, Skiff said. Skiff fell from a new storage facility he was working on at Westside Storage. His employer, Dave Clausen of Pete Clausen & Sons Inc., said high winds were to blame for the fall.
Others have stepped up to help the Skiff family with bills.
Skiff's previous employer, Malta radio station KMMR, on Jan. 27 raised about $30,000 during a radio-a-thon from 6 a.m. to noon, which were Skiff's morning show hours, station owner Greg Kielb said.
“People from all over called in and donated. Makes you proud to be from the Hi-Line,” Skiff said.
Kielb said he took the 20 pages of pledges to Skiff, who recognized a lot of the names but didn't know a lot of the donors personally.
“He always had a tremendous personality, which has touched a lot of people around,” Kielb said.
The Loring Poultry Association will donate money raised at its annual chicken feed, on March 25 at the Loring Bar, to the Skiffs.
Criss Henderson, who has helped fix the last 15 annual feeds, said Skiff has always been a good supporter and the association would like to return the favor. Donations will be accepted at the door of the all-day feast.
She said last year's event fed about 400 people.
“The best chicken dinner you will eat in beef country,” Henderson said.
Skiff said he may be able to go home as soon as Feb. 23, a month and a half after he was admitted to the hospital. Doctors originally told him that he would be there for up to three months.
“The doctors said I have a really good attitude and am working hard,” Skiff said. “That's what I have been trying to do is have a good attitude and work hard.”
Skiff has been doing physical and occupational therapy, including strengthening his arms and abdominal muscles and learning how to maneuver a wheelchair.
His wife, Katie, has been at his side every day except for two, when she went home to figure out how to make the house wheelchair accessible. Their two boys - Dave, 5, and R.C., 3, - have been staying with their grandparents in Malta when not visiting Skiff. The couple is expecting another child in July.