GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On the fifth floor of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids is a man who nearly lost his life while on the job. If you ask him about what happened, the answer is short.
“It was a really hot day,” Robert Myler said. “And I don’t remember any of it.”
The fifth floor of Mary Free Bed houses a joint venture with Trinity Health Senior Communities. There, health care workers work around the clock in the Mary Free Bed Sub-Acute Rehabilitation Program. The program provides patients therapy to get back to full function after illness, injury or surgery. You will often find programs like these in nursing homes or retirement communities.
Robert Myler, who goes by R.J., ended up there after he was seriously injured in a crash. He said his June 23 shift driving recycling truck for Arrowaste started out normal. He was near the intersection of East Beltline Avenue and Knapp Street when everything went dark.
“I lost consciousness while driving,” Myler said.
He woke up three days later in a hospital bed, oblivious to what had just happened and how his life was about to change forever.
“I thought I was paralyzed because I woke up I couldn’t move any of my limbs,” he said.
Myler had been in a medically-induced coma. He would later learn that his recycling truck slammed into a semi-truck. His left leg was amputated in the crash and he broke several bones in all of his limbs. If it weren’t for two nearby good Samaritans — a nurse and retired Marine — Myler very likely would not have made it to the hospital.
“My injuries were so severe I had to have four tourniquets applied to all four of my extremities,” he said.
He underwent several surgeries at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital to put his body back together. He now has several hours of physical and occupational therapy each day at Mary Free Bed.
“I’ve never seen a patient with this extensive of injuries,” said Jenna Livingston, a physical therapist at Mary Free Bed.
Health care workers like Livingston have Myler on the road to recovery, but he also credits two other very important parts of his life: faith and family.
“I lost my dad eight years ago to a work accident, so my perspective on living through something like this has completely transformed my faith and made it so much stronger because I know how lucky I am that God saved me and that he put all the people in place that day to help save my life,” Myler said.
His wife Kendra Myler and their two little girls spend much of their time by his side, giving R.J. Myler the support and love that motivates him through every therapy session.
“Being able to come and see him has been amazing and I think that helped (the girls) a lot to be able to see their dad mostly every day and still know that dad’s here and that he’s going to come home,” Kendra Myer said as she sat next to her husband in his hospital room.
The family was recently able to get outside and visit John Ball Zoo, a reminder of what awaits R.J. Myler when he crosses the finish line of his recovery.
“Just seeing my family back together and doing things that we did before was incredible and it just made my heart so full,” Kendra Myler said with a smile on her face.
R.J. Myler will be at Mary Free Bed for a few more weeks as he works toward his goal of getting a prosthetic leg. In the meantime, the Mylers are clinging onto what is getting them through this journey:
“Trusting God can be really hard and putting all of your faith into God can be really scary,” Kendra Myler said, “but when you see something like this, where he’s going to come home to us some day very soon, it just makes it all worth it.”