Mike Fales, Olivet College professor, and his wife Judy Fales, Olivet College librarian, were working on their roof fixing a hole a squirrel had been entering through when Mike Fales lost his balance and fell one and a half stories down to the ground, hitting a cistern.
Mike Fales suffered broken vertebrae one and two below his skull, all his ribs on his right side, and a collapsed lung, leaving him the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 12 days and rehab for seven days at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.
Mike Fales said, “I have to wear a halo for three months to allow my neck to heal. I expect the halo to be removed by the end of October.”
“The halo forces my head down so I can only look at the ground. To watch TV or to see someone I have to be reclined. I can’t drive wearing it and I have to walk with a walker to keep my balance.” While wearing the halo was rough, I think getting off the opioid pain killers was the hardest part of this. Coming off that medication made me very nauseous and I have lost over 25 pounds in the process. I am very glad to be off almost all medication. One of my doctors told me that what I went through was like someone coming off heroin.” said Mike Fales.
Judy Fales has been with Mike through his recovery process. “I manage Mike's meds which, at first, filled five pages and had a chart so that I could keep them straight. Since the second month in recovery, he has been able to drop several of the meds.” said Judy.
Judy Fales was not injured during this accident, but she was left with emotional scars. “I see the accident over and over. Someone told me that this is a form of PTSD. I hate to claim that because I don't think I should equate it with people who have served in combat. However, I may talk to a counselor about it later.” said Judy Fales.
Mike Fales has worked at Olivet College as a professor and service-learning coordinator since 1992, for 27 years. Because of his accident, he is not able to work currently.
“Provost Dr. Maria Davis and Dean Dr. Karen Chaney both visited me in the hospital and told me not to worry about my job or teaching my classes. Faculty colleagues and friends volunteered to cover all of my classes. Dr. John Homer covered two sections of Civilization Studies, Professor Joanne Williams covered my Self and Community section and Father (Fr.) Brian Coleman covered my REL 101 course. I am very grateful to the college and to these friends who covered my classes. Being able to recuperate without having to be concerned about the work I love made my recovery much easier.” Mike Fales said.
Mike Fales is an Olivet College Class of 1975 graduate. During his time as a college student, he pledged to Adelphic Alpha Pi. He is still very active with the house as an advisor.
“The Adelphics have come over every day to take him for a walk, visit with him, help with things that are too much (loading salt into our softener system).” said Judy Fales.
Mike Fales said he would like to thank Jacob Richards, community service coordinator, “for doing a good job leading our service trips while I have been off.”
“While Mike's absence has made a large impact on the college, he has still been able to assist with much of the service learning side of his job. Mike and I have been meeting fairly regularly both at his home and in the office. Fortunately, Mike lives a few blocks from the college square and has been quite accessible through out his recovery. Mike also just recently solidified the Spring Break service trip for next semester which was a great help,” said Richards.
With the help of his wife, Olivet College, and close friends, Mike Fales expects to make a full recovery and return to his job in Olivet's spring semester.
According to SpineHealth.com, “A halo is a medical device used to stabilize the cervical spine after traumatic injuries to the neck, or after spine surgery. The apparatus consists of a halo vest, stabilization bars, and a metal ring encircling the patient's head and fixated to the skull with multiple pins.”