BY TRICIA HILL
Can you imagine if one day your life was going just the way you wanted it to and then something suddenly happened to change it drastically for the worse?
That is what happened to Fennimore resident Charles Slaght, current business owner of Ink Expressions Tattoo Studio in Fennimore.
In April 2004, Slaght was working at Disco Building Improvements in Dubuque, Iowa as a foreman, when he started having issues with chronic migraines. It was soon after that Slaght was driving a piece of construction equipment and passed out, causing him to drive into the wall of a house.
The owners of the construction company requested that Slaght have an MRI done before he could return to work. At this point Slaght did not realize that the MRI would change his life forever.
When the MRI results returned to Slaght’s doctor, they had found a cluster of blood vessels in his brain that had either grown together or had gotten too large. Slaght was then diagnosed with cerebral arteriovenoous malformation or AVM and was unable to return to work. The doctors at UW Hospital in Madison started treatment right away, leaving Slaght bed ridden for most of his treatment.
“I received the best of treatment options, which came at a great deal of expense to myself, and my family,” said Slaght.
Slaght went through treatment from 2004 to 2007 and during this time Slaght was having issues dealing with even slight noises without having a chronic migraine.
Being an avid outdoorsmen, Slaght got tired of being cooped up in his house, so he went in search of an outdoor hobby to partake in.
It was at this time that Slaght first met John and Jen Borzick, owners of Tall Tails Sports and Spirits in downtown Boscobel. Slaght explained his situation to John and Jen, letting them know that it needed to be an activity with very little noise due to his chronic migraines.
After contemplating everything that Slaght had told them, John decided that bow hunting would be a good activity, as it was a great way to sharpen his hunting and hearing skills.
“It was also a private and quiet activity,” said Slaght.
John and Jen got together with their employee, Mark Winger, and helped Slaght get started with archery. They even donated him a bow along with other items he needed, including tips, arrows, sight, release and other necessary items.
“They went 110 percent out of their way to help me and I am thankful for that,” Slaght said.
After years of treatment, Slaght finally went through brain surgery to have the AVM removed. When going into surgery Slaght was warned that he had a five percent chance of surviving the procedure.
However, with the AVM mass removed the course of Slaght’s problems had actually gotten worse. Slaght came out of surgery and was blind for eight months. During this time, Slaght had spent most of his time lying in bed and had fallen into a deep depression.
During Slaght’s recovery process he was supported by his girlfriend, Laura Hrubes, his daughters, Patience and Kylie, as well as his new friends John and Jen.
“While I was laid up both at home and in the hospital, John and Jenny came and visited and brought us food,” said Slaght.
After Slaght’s eyesight returned, he found that most of his peripheral vision was lost as well.
Due to this, Slaght now has to wear corrective lenses for ten hours every day; otherwise his left eye will veer off to the side. The loss of his vision also has caused him to become unbalanced, making activities such as fishing unsafe.
Slaght has also found himself unable to hunt with a regular bow, leaving him in need of buying a crossbow to hunt.
Even though Slaght is currently unable to hunt, he plans to still go relax in the woods, waiting for a deer to cross his path and just enjoy the peace and quiet nature offers.
After Slaght’s treatment and surgery, the doctor bills started piling up and totaled to around three quarters of a million dollars.
Due to Slaght’s surgery he was considered disabled and no one wanted to hire him after hearing his story. So Slaght decided to open his own tattoo studio out of his home in Fennimore, Ink Expressions, across the street from Century 21 on the Lincoln Avenue.
With the loss of Slaght’s vision, he is unable to do the tattoo work himself, so he has a hired an artist do the work for him.
Currently, Slaght has returned to his doctor, for a regular check up and has been informed that the AVM has returned. The doctors talked to Slaght about going through the surgery again to clean up the mass, warning him that his odds of surviving once again were not very high.
“I told the doctors I had beaten the odds once and I wasn’t going to put my family through that again, so I would just live with the AVM,” Slaght said.
So to this day Slaght is living a normal life the best he can and taking the time to spend with his family and his new found friends John and Jenny.
“I really hope to encourage new hunters and avid hunters of all ages to stop in to Tall Tails and talk with John and Jen,” said Slaght. “They really went all out for me and I don’t know what I would have done without their help.”