He Fell 5 Stories and His Bones Exploded. He Didn't Crumble

'Esquire' tells the story of Mike Conner
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2022 2:35 PM CDT
He Fell 5 Stories, Feet First. He Wouldn't Accept His Fate
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / kirilllutz)

On April 2, 2013, engineer Mike Conner was at a church in Clovis, California, inspecting sprinklers the fire marshal had taken issue with in the attic. Conner fell five stories, landing feet first on concrete. Writing for Esquire, Joshua St.Clair's description of what happened immediately after—and then in the 9 years since—is as beautiful as it is visceral and difficult to read. "His feet exploded inside his shoes," St.Clair writes. "His tibias and fibulas exploded like shrapnel through his slacks. His knees went in different directions. Then his butt hit and that exploded, too. Then his spine." Conner survived. But then came his prognosis: His unusable legs and right arm would be cut off. "Mike would become just a torso and an arm. He would never walk. He would never stand." Conner decided not to accept it.

He came up with a plan: "If he could move it, he would work it." He started with two fingers on his left hand. Change didn't come quickly. Upon returning home from the hospital he was confined to his home's den, able only to move from the bed to a portable toilet lined with kitty litter bags; his children emptied it. He thought about suicide. But he kept going to physical therapy five days a week. And after two years, he stood for the first time. It was three years before he could turn his right hand and see his own palm. He learned to walk again. But that's only part of the story. The other part is the pain, or "the Pain," as St.Clair writes, something so staggering it deserves a capital letter. (Read the full piece to learn how he was able to give up the oxycodone he took for years.)

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