BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO)--- Mike Spencer says the smallest of choices can change your life forever, which is why he is sharing his story of a horrific fireworks accident, costing him his hands, and his freedom.
He hopes others will pay attention, take caution, and not have to go through the physical trauma that he has.
"You're supposed to set it on the ground, light the fuse, and run away quick," says Spencer.
"What I did is (I) took the mortar shell, held it above my head, and it went off in my hands".
Spencer does things differently in order accomplish the basics. The things some people may take for granted.
"I couldn't wear pants because I couldn't pull up my zipper...I couldn't do the button. I couldn't button up buttons on my shirt".
April 2015, Spencer was visiting friends in Montana and enjoying a fun night in their backyard, but that night would change Spencer's life forever, in a moment of carelessness.
Spencer was set a spark to a mortar-and-shell styled firework. Next, an explosion, blowing away most of his hands.
"I remember looking at my hands, I remember seeing nothing but red," he says.
Nearly sixteen surgeries later. Spencer has a new type of thumb, reconstructed after removing the second toe of his right foot, and attaching it where his thumb once was.
With his seemingly positive outlook, he jokingly refers to the new digit as his "thoe".
Dr. Omkar Bhatt., M.D. of the Graves Gilbert Clinic, also warns people to be extra cautious while handling the explosives.
"In the United States we see a lot in the July 4th celebrations, and one should realize that they do, and they can cause injury, and precautions should be taken before you hold explosives in your hand," says Dr. Bhatt
"I would tell people not to think of fireworks as a toy. They are a source of pleasure, but they need to be used with lots of precaution, and attention, and if children are using them, there should be adult supervision," he says.
Spencer, occasionally facing some scale of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, always remains on his guard.
With a new hobby of model trains, doubling as physical therapy, Spencer says he looks forward to further improvements.
"Life can change in an instant, so I would say to leave the fireworks to the experts".
A cautious warning, and a silver lining of optimism, for the days ahead.