By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Ray Paiz is looking forward to the new year a little more than most people. The 35-year-old Portales man said he has a lot to be thankful for today and a lot to look forward to in the new year.
Nearly killed in when a tractor ran over him in early October, the assistant manager at Russell’s Super Save was able to leave Southwest Regional Therapy Hospital in Lubbock Dec. 1 and return to Portales to complete his recovery.
Paiz said the two months he spent in therapy are paying off: he was released by his local therapist last week. Paiz has been in a wheelchair most of the time because doctors determined that his pelvis, which was broken in the accident, shouldn’t bear weight during the healing process.
He has recently been able to use a walker on a limited basis with weight on his left side only. He sees his doctor again Thursday and hopes to be released to bear weight on both legs at that time.
“The only thing that’s kept me down is that I was non-weight bearing,” Paiz said. “They told me I couldn’t walk at first. I feel like I could get up and walk right now,” Paiz said Thursday. “I’ve only stayed off of it because they told me to.”
Paiz is used to staying busy and said he has an active lifestyle. With his job at the store, where he’s on his feet constantly, and regular physical labor on the family farm, the wiry Portales High graduate said being unable to walk was tough.
“Going from that to not being able to get around at all was a shock,” he said, noting that right after the accident he couldn’t even move his bad leg in the bed.
His friends and family say that his recovery has been quicker than they dreamed it would be. Paiz credits the hard work of the therapists in pushing him for the success in learning to walk the second time.
“Those people work really hard — the therapists,” Paiz said. “They knew just how hard to push you and it worked. Every day you could see a little bit of improvement. You’ve got to push it.”
Paiz said he saw other patients at the therapy hospital who weren’t trying very hard and were depressed and not improving. He decided he didn’t have to be that way and wouldn’t stay there any longer than he had to be.
The bachelor, who’s been staying with his mom and dad since he got home, said he’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community.
“There were a lot of people there right away,” Paiz said. “Almost everyday somebody was there from Portales. I was never alone.”
He figures every minister in Portales stopped in to visit him at the hospital in Lubbock and customers and coworkers were there regularly as well as family.
“It was uplifting that people who knew me from the store that I didn’t even know called,” he said. “I wasn’t surprised because I know there’s good people in this town.”
Paiz’ mother, Terry Paiz, said having her son home in time for the holidays was special.
“That’s one of the best things I have (had this Christmas),” she said.
She said his attitude throughout his recovery has been great.
“He just takes it as it is,” she said. “There’s not very many kids like that, and he’s so nice.”
Paiz has already started doing some work from home and is ready to go back to work on light duty as soon as his doctors approve it. His goal is to be able to do that by the end of January.
“I’m looking forward to it; I’m counting the days,” he said of returning to the store. “My manager probably hasn’t had a full day off since I left.
Paiz said his accident has taught him to appreciate people in his life even more. He vows in the new year that he’ll find more time for family and friends.