By SHERI GASSAWAY
A group IBEW Local 1 members at Grasser Electric spent a recent Saturday morning trying to make the return home for one of their own members a little easier.
Kenny Allgeyer, a 30-year-old IBEW 1 Grasser electrician, recently sustained a spinal cord injury, which has left him paralyzed from the chest down. He is set to return home in about a week.
The group met at their coworker’s home in House Springs on Feb. 4 to install a wireless communication/home automation system (Alexa) that will enable him greater mobility around the house. The new system will allow Allgeyer to control some things around the home – like turning lights on and off – with a simple voice command.
“We just wanted to make it a little easier for him,” said John Baumann, a Grasser general foreman. “He’s only worked for us four years, but you can see with the group of guys here today what an impression he has made on us.”
A representative of Digital Horizons was also on hand to help in the process, as were union carpenters from GS&S and ICS, who re-hinged all the doors for wheelchair accessibility.
Allgeyer, who has been hospitalized and currently is undergoing rehabilitation, returned briefly to his house Saturday afternoon with his wife Carolyn.
“I knew all along they were good guys, but it’s not until something like this happens when you know how much you are appreciated,” Allgeyer said. “It’s unreal.”
A RUPTURED BLOOD VESSEL
On Dec. 22, Allgeyer and his father-in-law Van Ludwig were driving in Wentzville when Allgeyer started complaining of back pain. Ludwig said the bouncing/movement of the truck seemed to be aggravating the situation.
Ludwig said he gave his son-in-law some Advil, but the pain kept getting worse and he began experiencing numbness in his feet. That’s when they decided it was time to go to the emergency room.
“By the time we got to the hospital, he couldn’t move his legs,” Ludwig said. “They had to do an emergency surgery to repair a ruptured vein in his middle back, and now he’s numb from the chest down.”
Ludwig and his wife Laura have been staying at the couple’s home to help care for their 16-month-old son Garrett.
Allgeyer said the doctors have told him that the blood vessel that ruptured between his should blades is usually one that that goes away in people as they get older. The rupture caused bleeding on his spine.
“The doctors say that healing takes time with any spinal cord injury, and they haven’t been able to tell me if I’ll be able to walk again,” Allgeyer said.
On a positive note, Allgeyer said he the feeling has come back in his legs, and that he is getting stronger every day.
“I’m just trying to stay strong and keep a positive attitude because I have a lot of people depending on me,” he said. “I believe I’ll be able to walk again.”