Bill and Shirley Oberhausen of Russellville, have experienced a bona fide, God given miracle and they want to share the story with others.
It’s important to them, not only because it affected their lives in a most unimaginable way, but because in a day when people are becoming more skeptical about God’s presence in our world and our lives, they both see it as an opportunity to remind us all that He is with us, very real and every day.
It was a day like any other, the sun was hot, the grass was crisp and on this very ordinary May 2, Bill Oberhausen went into his back yard like he has done a thousand times. However, on this day, Bill stepped on a rock, which twisted his leg - breaking two bones.
“It was weird, I just stepped on the rock and my foot turned completely around. I had to grab it and force it back to the front,” said Bill, who served in Vietnam and was affected by Agent Orange, leaving his bones brittle.
As strange as this may sound, a once in a life-time coincidence ended up a life changing event, one in which Bill and his wife Shirley wouldn’t have imagined could ever come out of a simple broken bone, from a rock, in the middle of the yard on an ordinary day.
Like you would imagine, Bill was taken to a Bowling Green hospital by ambulance after breaking his leg. Like you would imagine, the emergency room was packed, full of people waiting to be seen for their ailments. That day, however, was extraordinary in more than one way, said Shirley, all of the rooms were full and Bill had to be worked on in the hallway.
Bill was, as anyone could believe, in a lot of pain. He was given medicine right away to help him deal with that pain as they attempted to straighten out his foot. Because of the medicine, Bill says the last thing he remembers was them taking his clothes off in the hallway to work on his leg and then he remembers waking up in an ambulance heading to Nashville days later.
That’s right, days later.
Bill was scheduled for surgery on his leg at 10:30 p.m. the night he arrived at the hospital. He went through surgery just fine and was taken to his room afterwards. Two days after the surgery, Shirley had to leave her husband’s bedside to catch a play their young granddaughter was appearing in. Shirley kissed Bill goodbye and told him she would see him the next morning.
When the morning rolled around, Shirley called ahead to let Bill know she was coming. She said he didn’t quite sound himself and was talking strangely. Worried about him, she contacted the nurses station and informed them. Bill, having experienced a stroke in the past, she was worried he could be having another.
She and their son Michael, who is an EMT for the Logan County Ambulance Service, headed for the hospital. When they arrived they had taken Bill for a test. When Bill came back to the room he was very pale, said Shirley, and didn’t look right. When Shirley tried to wake him and talk to him, his eyes rolled back into his head and he began to gurgle.
Being an EMT, Michael knew something was happening. He ran over to his father’s side and realized he wasn’t breathing. Michael began CPR on his father and called for help.
Shirley said it wasn’t long until the small hospital room was packed with nurses and doctors working on her husband. She herself, had to wait out in the hallway, devastated and confused about what was happening. He just came in for a broken leg.
Doctors worked on Bill, but nothing they did was bringing him back. Shirley said a doctor came out into the hallway and told her it didn’t look good and that they had already given him two shots to help and could only give one more, and if that didn’t work they would have to stop.
“I prayed and prayed,” said Shirley.
The third shot brought back a faint heartbeat and down the hall they flew to the cath lab. While in the hallway, Bill flatlined once again. They continued CPR until getting another faint heartbeat. While in the cath lab, attempting to put in a pacemaker, he flatlined a third time, but once again they brought him back. After it was said and done, Bill was without a heartbeat for 90 minutes total.
It didn’t look good, said Shirley. No one can be without a heartbeat for 90 minutes and survive can they?
The next few days were touch and go. Shirley said a brain scan showed no function and doctors told her and her son Bill was brain dead and the only thing keeping him alive was the respirator and the pacemaker. A decision had to be made.
“They came to us and said we would need to make a decision and that Bill was gone,” said Shirley. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
Shirley said her son hit the hospital floor and prayed for his father. The night before, a group from his church had held vigil over his father.
“Michael told me he couldn’t make that choice,” said Shirley, who didn’t think she could either.
“We always talked about we didn’t want each other to suffer if something bad happened,” said Shirley, about to make a decision that is unthinkable for anyone… to let their loved one go.
Shirley and her son went in to visit with Bill, one last time. Shirley said she grabbed him and hugged him and told him he just had to wake up, that there were people who loved him.
“Open your pretty eyes,” said Shirley, as she had always said to him. “Open your pretty eyes Bill.”
And that is when the miracle happened. That is when God came down, said Shirley and woke her husband up.
“He opened his eyes and then shut them,” said Shirley, who yelled to Michael and when Micheal called out to his dad he opened and shut them again.
Michael called for the nurse and they told her what happened. The nurse, said Shirley, tried to explain to them that opening his eyes was just a reflex. Shirley differed with that prognosis and said “no, he looked at me.”
The nurse reluctantly went over to Bill and put her hand on his chest. Shirley said when Bill reacted by flinching, the nurse was shocked as well and began calling his name. “Mr. Oberhausen, can you hear me? Mr. Oberhausen?
Shirley told the nurse to call him Bill.
The nurse followed Shirley’s instruction and asked him to wiggle his fingers and toes, which he did. Startled, the nurse called the doctor immediately and they began weening Bill off of certain medications.
Shirley said doctors still warned her that her husband would most likely suffer brain damage because of what had occurred. But Shirley had already seen a miracle and she wasn’t counting anything out again.
Within a few days, Bill was awake. They took him to the VA Hospital in Murfreesboro to have more work done on his leg. That is the next thing he remembered from being in the hallway on that first day in the emergency room. He said he remembers his son Michael sitting beside him and telling him they were going to run the sirens.
Bill has no brain damage and his leg is fine and he is up walking and even driving. Shirley said they told them it was the pain medication that caused Bill to react the way he did.
“This was a miracle,” said Bill and Shirley, who can’t say why God stepped in and saved him, but they know He did.
“I want to say to everyone out there, to never give up hope,” said Shirley, adding that she and Bill will never turn each other off if something else happens.
“God will have the choice to take us. You really don’t have the decision, it’s God’s decision,” said Shirley.