‘While it’s been my honor to tell the stories of others, I want to share one of my own for this Thanksgiving edition. In my first personal memoir in the Adair County Community Voice, I will share what I’m truly thankful for this year.’
By Anna Buckman
My family has always had so much to be thankful for. We had jobs, food, homes, health, love, faith and much more.
It gets easy to forget how precious life is and how easily our blessings can be taken from us when things are going well in life.
But in February, we were quickly reminded of that when my father, Greg Murrell, nearly lost his life in a sudden illness.
The events that unfolded during his illness and after have left us with a new look on life and a deeper appreciation for each other.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, Dad had what he thought was a cold for a week, but it was discovered in the ER that he had double pneumonia, the flu and was now septic.
He was sent to TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital in Bowling Green and suddenly on Feb. 7, he suffered a stress heart attack from a reaction to sedation. Just hours later, we were called in to the hospital by nurses at 3 a.m. because he was unresponsive to everything – we thought that was it.
Doctors were surprised when they discovered he had brain activity during a test, but revealed that he had three different blood infections, more organs were shutting down and felt that he was in the coma due to all of it.
Doctors didn’t think he would pull through, but he finally began healing and awoke from his coma. We couldn’t believe that after all his body went through, he was going to make it and leave without even needing oxygen assistance.
However, we soon learned that Dad had severe nerve damage caused by his illness and now suffered from Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Just when we thought he was getting better, there was now a good chance he may never use his extremities again.
He received some treatments for that at The Medical Center and Dad was determined to give therapy at SKY Rehab his all and for one reason in particular – he needed to walk me down the aisle on May 4.
“I told them my goal is to get out of here and be able to walk my daughter down the aisle and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to do that, if I have to do extra treatments or whatever,” said Dad.
He began to slowly progress to being able to feed himself, but his legs were still immobile – that is, until what he calls a “divine intervention.”
One day, a very passionate deacon from Living Hope Baptist Church came by to see Dad.
While the rest of our family was religious, Dad wasn’t. He would be polite and receptive to the deacons that he met, but never enough to change his heart.
After his discussions with Dad, he asked if there was anything specific he could pray over. Dad told him about his legs.
“I went along with it – I didn’t have any hopes of it working,” said Dad.
The next morning, Dad had a day off from therapy and while lying in his bed, he noticed he lifted his legs on his own. He lifted them again and they went even higher.
“I was freaking out, I thought to myself, ‘Was it God or was it just time for my legs to start working again? But he just prayed for my legs the day before, that’s got to be what it is.’ I mean, that hit me with a ton of bricks.”
Things only went up from there. On April 17, Dad walked out of SKY Rehab with a cane and attended church willingly for the first time in my life on April 22, Easter Sunday.
On May 4, he walked me down the aisle and even danced with me at my reception.
A few months later, he and mom returned to the hospital to surprise one of his occupational therapists who had seen him at his worst.
“He didn’t recognize me at first and said that I shouldn’t be here and that I was a miracle.”
Other nurses, doctors and therapists later told him that they too had never really thought he would ever get better. Dad says he will never forget the love, patience and sincerity he felt from all the health professionals he met during this experience.
Now months later, Dad is a different man and we are a different family because of all of this.
We don’t take any breath or step for granted because we realize how quickly it can be taken away.
We let go of the little things now, are more present with one another and try to never miss a Sunday at church – Dad included.
“Sometimes it takes serious situations to wake somebody up,” said Dad. “It was just a very humbling experience. It made me appreciate my existence. I’ve always loved my family, but I love you in a different way now.”
He also acknowledges that the prayers, love and visits that were made for him attributed to this change.
“I feel that they helped get me through this.”
Dad retired from Columbia-Adair Utilities District and he and my already retired Mom spend their days babysitting their three grandchildren, binge-watching TV and enjoying each other’s company.
This Thanksgiving, our family will be remembering how far Dad has come and the prayers God answered through this exhausting yet wonderfully life-changing journey. Thank you to all who have read my story to the end and I hope sharing it has brought a smile to your face and hope to your heart.