Midstate vet takes life one step at a time

Forty-year-old Joshua Havens is taking life one step at a time. He has to.

“Before I could go to the gym and work out for an hour-and-a-half or bench 200 pounds,” he said, “but now I’m doing five pounds 10 times, I’m sweating. By the time I do an hour-and-a-half therapy session, I’m drained. Up until this happened, I was pretty much just cutting hair 40 hours a week and hanging out with friends, going to the gym, having a pretty normal life.”

That was just a few months ago. The former U.S. Army ranger-turned-barber lived life to the fullest. Then, he started getting really bad migraines. He felt run down. It would eventually pass, until one day it didn’t.

“I was at home that night and another migraine hit but much worse this time,” Havens said, “And within a matter of minutes I couldn’t walk and I was falling into stuff and couldn’t see. That’s when I finally had to call for help.”

Havens was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He spent 40 days at the Helen M. Simpson rehabilitation hospital in Lower Paxton Township.

“I have to learn how to do everything again,” he said, “All the sports I used to do – horseback riding, skiing with my daughter, kayaking, and motorcycles and everything – I gotta learn how to do everything again. But the first step is learning how to walk again.”

“It’s really hard to see your friend who is this big strong, vibrant person in that bed and feeling that bad,” friend Jeff Rose said. “You feel hopeless because there’s nothing you can do.”

But Rose decided there is something he could do.

“This unfortunately has just financially destroyed me,” Havens said.

Rose and his friends came up with a plan. They’re throwing a big party and everyone’s invited. The money raised will be used to help Havens with everything from medical bills to heating his home this winter.

“It’s going to be a fun time,” Rose said. “Everyone’s going to come out and enjoy themselves to absolutely great music, but also to reach in their heart and help donate, help us help a friend.”

“I honestly can’t thank everybody enough for everything they’ve done for me while I’m here,” Havens said. “It’s going to be a long road, but I’m going to get there. I might not do very much dancing at the show, but I’ll be there.”

Havens is back at home, but he still can’t work. Doctors hope he’ll get better use of his body after a year.

If you would like to help, come out to Gullifty’s in Camp Hill on Sunday, November 22 starting at 1 p.m. There will be live music and a silent auction.

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