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Two years ago, Justin Jacob was a patient at Craig Hospital in Denver.
Now, he’s doing a clinical rotation at the same hospital.
Talk about coming full circle.
Justin, who will graduate with a nursing degree in May from Regis University in Denver, will be at the Craig Hospital for two more weeks.
Back in February 2008, he was a patient at the hospital, which specializes in treating patients with brain and spinal cord injuries, for about four months.
“It’s good to be on the other end,” Justin said.
It’s also good to be able to walk and talk. Things Justin couldn’t do after falling from a third-story apartment balcony on Feb. 3, 2008, in Rapid City, S.D., where he was a senior at the South Dakota School of Mines.
Justin was in a coma for nine days at Rapid City Regional Hospital, before being transferred to the Craig Hospital.
“I remember that day (of the accident),” Justin said. “I went fishing. I didn’t catch anything. I remember that. But it was probably three weeks after I fell before I even started remembering pieces.”
Justin, a 2005 Meeker High School graduate, has fully recovered from his injuries, which included hemorrhaging on the brain and about 15 broken bones in his face, but there are still some gaps in his memory.
“I don’t remember anything about the (Rapid City) hospital,” he said. “I was in the Craig Hospital when I started remembering. There is stuff that happened to me earlier in my childhood that I have no recollection of. My memory was really bad (after the accident), but it’s much better now.”
Justin was graduated in December 2009 from the South Dakota School of Mines with a pre-med degree. But it was a nurse at the Craig Hospital, when Justin was a patient, who inspired him to change his focus.
“I was going to go to med school, but after I fell, it was actually a nurse who had the biggest impact on my recovery,” Justin said. “When all that happened (the accident), it changed my priorities. I wasn’t as much attracted to the material things and money, like I was before. There’s more to life than that.”
Justin and the nurse he had as a patient at the Craig Hospital have stayed in touch.
“I just talked to him last week,” Justin said. “I feel I could definitely give back the best by being a nurse. You can effect people’s lives pretty drastically. I’ve always been interested in, like, sports medicine, but now I’d really like to be a search and rescue medic.”
Justin’s return to the Craig Hospital has been an emotional one, for him and for employees there who remember when he was a patient at the hospital.
“Many of the employees there have recognized him and have been so happy to see him,” Justin’s mom, Shery, said. “He passed his neurologist in the hall last week and the doctor was teary-eyed. He shook Justin’s hand, hugged him and told him it made him so happy to see him come full circle, going from a patient to giving back as a caregiver.”
“I went from not being able to walk and talk and eat or do anything to where I am now, it was definitely quite the ride,” Justin said.
And it changed his outlook on life.
“It’s kind of surreal, to know I was here (at the Craig Hospital) two years ago and here I am now,” Justin said. “I definitely have a different perspective on life. It’s pretty fragile.”
His recovery from the accident has also given Justin a sense of purpose.
“I think I’m supposed to be here for a reason,” he said.
• • • • •
The balcony accident, when he fell three stories, wasn’t Justin Jacob’s first close call.
The year before he had a pulmonary embolism. He was diagnosed with a blood coagulation disorder.
“My lungs were full of blood clots,” Just said. “Now I’m on Coumadin (a blood-thinning medication) and I will probably be on it the rest of my life.
“They say cats have nine lives,” Justin said. “I know I have at least three.”
• • • • •
Back in September, Rio Blanco County commissioners continued the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in the county.
“The commissioners passed a resolution extending the previously adopted moratorium for one year, or until the Colorado Department of Revenue adopts rules pursuant to C.R.S. 12-43.3-202b(I), whichever occurs first,” said Kent Borchard, county attorney.
Both towns in the county did the same.
“The town adopted (an ordinance) placing a year moratorium on dispensaries,” said Meeker Town Manager Sharon Day. “I believe the board will be considering an extension of that moratorium until the regulations at the state level are more clear.”
Rangely Town Administrator Peter Brixius said, “The town just set a public hearing at our last council meeting to review a permanent moratorium for medical marijuana dispensaries in our community. We have a copy of the ordinance on our website under the agenda for the last meeting.”
• • • • •
Two cow moose were accidentally shot during the first rifle season.
In both situations, it was a case of misidentification by inexperienced hunters, said Bill de Vergie, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
“Both (hunters) immediately turned themselves in,” de Vergie said. “They receive a citation and a fine.”
The processed meat from the moose was donated locally.
The DOW has transplanted moose into the area over the past two years to establish a permanent population.
“We’re trying to educate people,” de Vergie said of the cases of mistaken identity. “To make sure people know what they are shooting at.”
• • • • •
The first snow of the season fell Monday. A rain-snow mix fell in Rangely, while a heavy, wet snow blanketed Meeker.
The first day of winter is still about seven weeks away.
• • • • •
Jason Back, formerly of Meeker, has been hired as the pro at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig. He had served in the position on an interim basis during the summer.
“It’s his dream job,” said his mom, Peggy Back, of Meeker.
• • • • •
With five days to go before the general election, it doesn’t appear Congressman John Salazar, who represents Colorado’s 3rd District, will make a campaign visit to Rio Blanco County, though he was invited.
As it did with other candidates, the Meeker Tea Party invited Salazar to address the group. However, a Salazar spokeswoman sent this response on Sept. 28: “Thank you for your request to meet with Congressman Salazar. When a time comes available for the congressman to meet with your group, I will contact you immediately.”
“I guess no time has come available,” said Lois Sampson of the Meeker Tea Party.
Salazar is being challenged by Rep. Scott Tipton.
• • • • •
Rio Blanco County commissioners awarded $139,831 in CCITF (County Capital Improvement Trust Fund) grants.
Last year, commissioners awarded $270,000 in grants. The year before that, $483,633 was awarded in CCITF monies.
Lower interest rates on county investments have accounted for the lower CCITF awards.
Grant requests that received funding this year were:
• $62,000 for replacing the heating, ventilating and air conditioning on 12 units at the town of Rangely’s White River Village apartments.
• $10,000 for an ADA front-entry compliance project at the Rangely Regional District Library.
• $50,000 to the Meeker School District for school bus and lawnmower replacement.
• $12,831 to Pioneers Medical Center in Meeker for renovations to hospital and emergency family service area.
• $5,000 to the Rio Blanco County Water Conservancy District as part of an ongoing sedimentation project.
• • • • •
Business owner Harry Watt, who has been feuding with the town of Meeker over charges he violated a parking ordinance — because of a sign advertising the Blue Spruce Inn painted on the side of a truck that has sometimes been parked in front of Watt’s Ranch Market — will have his day in court Nov. 5.
• • • • •
There’s still hope for saving the old United Methodist Church in Meeker.
The issue is on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the Meeker Town Board of Trustees. Michele Morgan, who is interested in saving the 100-plus-year-old church, will ask trustees to grant the church a temporary certificate of occupancy for its new sanctuary, which is scheduled to be completed this month. That would give interested parties time to try and find funding and a new home for the old sanctuary. The estimated cost to move the old building is $50,000. Possible sites for the old sanctuary include Highland Cemetery, Ute Park and the grounds of the old elementary school.
• • • • •
After taking photos last week of branding inspector Ed Coryell inspecting cattle as they were loaded into semi-trailers to be hauled to a buyer in Nebraska, I returned to the office and noticed I left a trail of, uh, cow s… on the carpet. The trail extended all the way from the back door, up the stairs and down the hallway leading to my desk.
Ed would have been proud.
Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.