NEW MARKET (AP) -- It's been a little more than three months since Jarrod Wagner cut off his left arm below the elbow to free himself from a hay baler.
These days, Wagner, of New Market, likes to focus on the positive: figuring out how to tie his shoes, learning to write, cutting a steak -- using just his right hand. He was left-handed.
But Wagner, 34, also has to deal with more-unpleasant realities: being unemployed with no health insurance as his medical bills mount; paying for food, heat, and electricity.
"You're worried how you're going to pay the bills and still make money, and you're still trying to heal," he said.
On Friday night, his friends are throwing him what he calls "a big party," a spaghetti dinner and dance fund-raiser to help him make ends meet.
He has already received hundreds of cards from all over Minnesota and from other amputees -- notes of hope and consolation that often come with a $10 bill or a $20 check. With that, he has managed to pay his monthly hospital bills of $1,500.
"If I tried to write thank-you cards to everyone, I wouldn't have a right hand left," he deadpanned.
He doesn't like talking about the accident itself. It brings up bad memories and often leaves him with nightmares of amputations.
"A lot of people can't believe I actually cut my arm off to save my life," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the people I talk to say they would have probably just died."
Wagner was baling hay on his father's 70-acre cattle and hay farm near Elko in July when a clump of hay plugged up his baler. When he reached to remove it, his arm got caught between two pressure rollers about a quarter-inch apart. He then used a piece of metal from his headphones to saw through, then chop off, his arm.
His father had found his arm, but "it wasn't salvageable."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.