Hayden Town Board Trustee Ken Gibbon was looking forward to a two-week vacation to visit friends and family on the East Coast, but when the day of his flight came, he couldn't get out of bed.
The pain had been growing in the days before, and the 50-year-old was taking ibuprofen before going to work, something he'd never needed before. Gibbon began to reconsider the trip, but the tickets were paid for and the arrangements had been made, so he went.
Two weeks earlier, Gibbon had "routine" surgery for a broken disc in his lower back. He recovered quickly, but the pain returned just before his trip. He thought it was only temporary.
He was painfully wrong. Now, he will never refer to surgery as "routine" again, he said.
"I was flat on my back for two weeks," Gibbon said of his uneventful vacation with his parents. "I couldn't even walk."
Gibbon said he could not even sit up. He took over-the-counter pain relievers, but they weren't enough to dull the pain.
The pain got so severe one night that Gibbon's family had to help him into a New Jersey hospital's emergency room. Gibbon said he practically begged for pain medication until he could see his surgeon in Fort Collins.
Pain medication helped Gibbon through the last three days of his vacation. When he returned to Colorado, he wasted no time going to Fort Collins to see his doctor, who determined his back had become infected after the surgery. Gibbon went back into surgery the next day, Aug. 25.
Since the surgery, Gibbon has missed two Town Board meetings, including one that he felt was very important. At the Sept. 18 meeting, the board voted to approve a resolution enabling county residents who live within 150 feet of town water mains to tap into those mains, under case-by-case approval. The board was split about the decision. Three Planning Commission members spoke against the resolution, but the board voted 3-2 to approve the extensions.
Gibbon was one of the main opponents of extending the water mains. If he was there, the vote would have tied, and the resolution would not have passed.
"I'm a little disappointed about it," Gibbon said. "Water's a precious resource. It's one of the reasons I moved here. I was thinking of where I wanted to live, and thought about getting some acres out in the country, but I didn't want the headache of well water.
"Water is one of the privileges of living in town."
Gibbon also was one of the proponents of a moratorium in 1996 to stop county taps of town water.
"I hear we've got 25 out-of-town taps now," Gibbon said. "If we didn't put a moratorium in, there would probably be 125."
Gibbon said he would be back for the next meeting, and back into work at the Steamboat Springs Post Office, as soon as he is able. He now has to be hooked up to an IV twice a day for at least two more weeks.
Gibbon said he doesn't know whether the injury came from a 700-foot tumble when he was a teen, 25 years of being a carpenter, an accident at the gym, or a combination of all three.
"I've fallen off a number of roofs in my life," he said.
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