Seven years ago, 44-year-old Wisconsinite Keith Buisse was outside doing what many people in his area of the country enjoy in winter: snowmobiling.
In a telephone interview, Buisse said, “I was on a snowmobile, going probably 110 miles an hour, and hit an open field where my handle hit some dirt chunks under the snow. The snowmobile suddenly was going straight up to heaven and I knew it was going to land on top of me. So I pushed off and landed on my elbow and lower back. I slid for a long ways and after stopping did a body check. My arms and head were okay, but my back hurt. I went to touch my legs and it was like touching the ground. There was no feeling.”
Buisse was paralyzed from the waist down, permanently.
What happened next was entirely unpredictable. He said, “I don’t think people believe me, but when I say now I don’t wish this not to have happened, I really mean it. People can’t imagine why I am fine (with having paralysis). The reason I accept it is because it has brought me closer to God. We’re on Earth only a short time. I’ll be here only 25 or 50 years, but I’ll be in heaven trillions of years after that. I’m a very positive person and people can see how this doesn’t affect me.”
Before the snowmobile accident, Buisse was a printing and publishing industry salesperson. About 15 months ago, he started a small business, Wheels Small Engine Repair, in Racine, Wisconsin. He and two employees fix small engines in push lawn mowers, riding mowers, and snow blowers. The name “Wheels” refers to his manual wheelchair, which he uses to get around the business.
He said, “I’m perfectly fine from the waist up.” Business has been going well.
In terms of advice, he said of people recently paralyzed due to injury, “They need to accept it. Those that don’t accept it tend to have a harder time getting through life. They often make their whole life about (their paralysis) and can’t get past it. But by accepting it, you can get beyond. One of the first things I ask (an affected person) is where their faith is. I got through because of my faith and belief in prayer. Without that, I could have become a bitter and angry person.”
Daniel Vance writes Living With Disabilities for more than 50 newspapers. The column is sponsored by Blue Valley Sod and Palmer Bus Service.