By Laurelle Walsh
Twisp resident Andy Johnson is back in the Methow after six months of rehabilitation following a car accident in May.
“I’m very happy to be back home,” Johnson said from the family residence on Lower Beaver Creek.
Although wheelchair-bound due to his injuries, Johnson is able to use both arms and hasn’t lost his ready smile or sense of humor, especially about his physical limitations.
“It’s amazing all the places you can take this thing [the power chair],” Johnson said. “I haven’t spun any Brodies in it yet on the ice, and I haven’t been able to use it in fourth gear yet.” Third gear in the 350-pound motorized chair accelerates to 3.7 miles per hour, so he’ll have to find a wide-open, level place before shifting into fourth, he notes.
Thanks in part to donations from the community, the family was able to purchase a 2007 all-wheel-drive Chevy van equipped with a motorized lift to accommodate Johnson’s chair. “Just being able to get out in the van and go places is nice,” said Johnson.
The latte lover and former operator of Java Man in Winthrop has already gone out and made the rounds of the valley’s coffee shops, and said he was looking forward to doing some Christmas shopping.
His parents, Don and Karen Johnson, remodeled their home before Andy’s homecoming on Dec. 5. The house now has a covered ramp leading to the front door, a remodeled bathroom with raised toilet and wheel-in shower, and smooth thresholds at each widened doorway.
The Johnsons received training in Spokane and Post Falls, Idaho, in order to care for their son at home. Nurses and other caregivers come into the home five days a week to help with care and physical therapy.
Johnson said he hopes to be able to use a manual wheelchair eventually. The life-long skier and cyclist would also like to try adaptive skiing and mountain biking some day.
“I don’t remember my helicopter ride to Spokane, so I’d like to take a helicopter ride sometime,” he added.
“I’d like to say how much I appreciate how the whole valley has pitched in with their time, money and friendship,” Johnson said. “I can’t say thank you enough. I also appreciate my mom, dad, daughter and sister coming and supporting me when I was staying in the hospital and rehab.”