by Jen Lynds
When we are young, we believe that every story has a happy ending.
The king gets his queen, the underdog perseveres over his rival, and the athlete always scores in the final seconds to win the big game,
When we are older, the truth comes out. Tragedies can happen right out of the blue. Friends and family members can die young. Life can get away from someone and leave them no time to get it back on track.
Sometimes, happy endings are just not part of the script.
But this is not one of them..
On Oct.12, 2010, Zane Wetzel was working as an apprentice lineman for Maine Public Service Co. in Presque Isle. In the early afternoon, the 27-year-old suffered a flash burn to 50 percent of his body while working at the substation on Parkhurst Siding Road.
He spent 47 days in a drug-induced coma in the intensive care unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He was later transferred to a rehabilitation facility. He has endured 12 surgeries, including several operations to graft skin from his legs onto the burned areas of his body.
He remained in Boston for outpatient therapy before coming home in Jan. 2011.
As a journalist, I am grateful when people trust me enough to let me tell their stories. It is rare for me to leave an interview without learning something. Zane and his wife, Courtney, reminded me of the power of love, the importance of faith, and the true meaning of commitment.
Shortly after Zane was injured, I talked to Courtney while she was in Boston. She was eager to talk and give people a glimpse of Zane’s recovery. In the coming weeks she served as a voice for her husband.
She spoke about the man she loved, the accident that nearly took him from her, and the faith that got them through.
Shortly after his admittance to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the situation became grim. A doctor approached the family to tell them that Zane’s vital signs were dropping. They were told to brace themselves for his death. They immediately began praying and used the Internet to ask friends and relatives to do the same. A short time later, his vital signs stabilized.
Zane has been just as welcoming to me.
In March, he allowed me to attend one of his physical therapy sessions at County Physical Therapy in Presque isle. He didn’t shy away from showing his burns or other scars. He talked freely about past and future surgeries. He never once uttered a cry of pain, He was so stoic that therapists learned to read his body language so they could tell when he was suffering.
“When Zane lifts his toes off the table, that is a sign that he is in pain,” Adam Simoes, occupational therapist and director of workplace services at CPT, said that day.
Two years after the accident, Zane is back to work for MPS, albeit in a different position. Courtney has found success as the owner of Pancsofar’s Bridal Shop in Presque Isle. They are renovating a home in Mars Hill.
Although the past two years have been difficult for the couple, they have put their heads down and just plodded through it all, without complaining, without anger, and powered by a religious faith that has cemented their bond even tighter.
They don’t need a writer. Together, they have created their own happy ending.