Paralyzed In Las Vegas Shooting, Man Learns How To Navigate Life Differently

(CBS News) — Michael Caster was one of the hundreds of people hurt when a gunman opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas earlier this year. CBS News’ Adriana Diaz met Caster just two days after the massacre and has been following his progress ever since.

Caster was shot in the back. His girlfriend Tawny Temple risked her life to get him to the hospital.

“Well, I did take a bullet for her. So she was just paying me back,” he joked while back at home in California for a brief visit before heading back to Denver for therapy.

Doctors said it was too dangerous to remove the shrapnel lodged in Caster’s spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

But Caster is a fighter. And for the last eight weeks, recovery has been his full-time job at Craig Hospital, a rehab center in Denver. At 41, he has to re-learn what used to be second nature.

“You never think of all the things that you took for granted, you know? That were so easy, going to the bathroom, or just sitting in a chair,” Caster said. “I go through some times where I get angry but it’s not going to change anything. I just got to kind of take it how it is.”

He says he hasn’t really thought about that night or watched much news since then. He’s focused on moving forward.  “We’ve kind of just been focused on rehab and getting home,” he said.

Temple put her life and job on hold to be with him.

“He’d do it for me, in a heartbeat,” she said.

Now, they’re learning how to navigate life in a new way: everything from boarding a plane to getting in a car with special hand controls.

Caster’s family has a GoFundMe page to help pay for his recovery, a new wheelchair-accessible home and car.

What he’s most looking forward to about going home?

“Just being back. Seeing her dogs, her roommates, my family, my dog,” Caster said.

He’s only home for a few days before he returns to Denver for outpatient therapy. And again, Temple will be by his side.

“She saved me. She’s my hero,” Caster said.

“I don’t look at it as that. I look at it as like we saved each other,” she responded.

The official Las Vegas Victims’ Fund, created to help victims of the mass shooting, has raised more than $14 million. The cutoff date for donations is January 31.

See video, here.