Stacy Hanson: Living the life changed by Trolley Square shooting
Stacy Hanson doesn't want that night five years ago to be the focus of the rest of his life, but it's easier said than done when there are so many constant reminders.
"Before I got shot, Colleen and I were doing whatever we wanted in life," Stacy said. "That night changed our relationship in every way."
In the years since Sulejman Talovic fired three shotgun blasts into Stacy as the Salt Lake City man shopped for a Valentine's Day card for Colleen, the couple has had to face a new reality.
"We used to travel, sail, hike, go horseback riding whatever," Colleen said. "Now we're just grateful for little things."
Among those little things are the "good days" when Stacy now a paraplegic is healthy and relatively pain free. Last year again, he was being rushed to the emergency room every couple of weeks. Recurring infections nearly killed him.
"We knew all the hospital staff by their first names," Colleen said. "It was awful."
In May 2011, Stacy underwent an agonizing back surgery to remove scar tissue, readjust his pain medication pump and separate nerves that had grown together.
"Coming out of that was the worst pain I've ever felt," he said. "Worse than getting shot."
But Stacy recognizes how far he has come mostly because Colleen won't let him forget. Stacy refers to her as "the glue" that keeps the family together.
He credits her with saving his life in the dark days immediately following Trolley Square. When he lost the will to live, Colleen smuggled their Chihuahua Popeye into intensive care. It made Stacy laugh again.
"She's been my constant reality check," Stacy said. "When I start to get depressed or too self-absorbed, she calls me on it. ... She's tough."
Tough is what it takes in their changed life.
In addition to working full time, Colleen manages the couple's home, drives Stacy to and from work and cares for their pets.
She's a good cook, too. Stacy has gained weight since his surgery. Gone is the gaunt, pain-ravaged figure he was. He works full time, goes to physical therapy and does whatever Colleen tells him.
"I feel more like myself than I have since I got shot," he said. "We're together and moving forward. I'm happy with that."