Ryan’s story

by Barbara Jason-Buchkoe

It is said your life can change in an instant. That certainly is what happened to Ryan Koski the morning of October 17 of last year.
1501_lop_ryan_koskiPrior to that morning, Ryan was your typical thirty-year-old. He had friends, family, a job and a special love for downhill skiing; he had been an active member of the Marquette Mountain ski patrol and was looking forward to the upcoming season.
He had realized his dream of owning his own home, purchasing a small house on Marquette’s east side. It’s a quiet neighborhood, populated mainly with elderly folks who soon became friends. Ryan quickly became a neighborhood favorite. He shoveled and blew snow out of people’s walks and driveways, he planted flowers and had time to visit. He liked to help people — not for accolades, but because he’s just that kind of a guy.
In the early morning hours of October 17, Ryan awoke on his bedroom floor in excruciating pain.
He knew he shouldn’t move, but he was alone so he inched his way painfully to a cell phone and called 911. Emergency personnel arrived, carefully strapped him onto a backboard and transported him to Marquette General Hospital. At this point, he was unable to move any of his extremities.
After the initial exam, it was determined his back had been broken and surgery was required. In fact, he needed two surgeries. The first was to remove bone fragments (his vertebrae had shattered and injured his spinal column). Immediately following was a second surgery, where the surgeon inserted metal rods on each side to stabilize his spine. After many agonizing hours, surgeons reported to Ryan’s family they had done what they could, but could not tell what type of permanent damage Ryan had sustained. As one surgeon said, “I don’t see your son walking again, but you can certainly hope because hope is free.”
There followed a week in the intensive care unit. Family and friends were by his side continuously.
Then it was discovered his shoulder also was broken so it was back for more surgery. The big question each day was whether Ryan would be paralyzed, and what kind of permanent damage had occurred. He had little or no movement in his legs.
1501_ryan_rehabEventually, he was transferred to the orthopedic unit, but everyone agreed he needed intense and specific rehabilitation services. It was recommended he transfer to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids. He was flown there and currently is undergoing therapy.
His life — and that of his family — was thrown into turmoil. To this day, no one can answer the question of why or how Ryan ended up on his bedroom floor. Ryan’s employer (Lowe’s of Marquette), granted him medical leave.
His father accompanied him, and stays with him to learn what assistance will be needed when Ryan returns home. His mom has researched all possible paperwork for assistance from various agencies that will aid Ryan when he comes home. Friends have done what they can to support the family.
Ryan has made remarkable — some even say miraculous — progress. He is able to walk with braces on his legs, with the use of crutches or a walker. However, his recovery is far from complete, and no one can predict whether he will be able to resume his former way of life.
Coworkers have spearheaded a fund-raiser for Ryan. A spaghetti dinner and silent auction will be held January 24, at First United Methodist Church, corner of Front and Ridge streets in Marquette; from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., with proceeds going to help with expenses incurred by Ryan and his family.
Donations can be made to the Ryan M. Koski Benefit Fund at the Marquette Community Federal Credit Union of Marquette.
— Barbara Jason-Buchkoe

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