PATRIOT — There are a number of defining moments in the life of a father and his daughter and often chief among those is being able to give the daughter away at her wedding as she and her partner start a new life.
Despite suffering from a condition called Osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone and in this specific case his spine, George Sheets, of Little Bullskin Road in the Patriot area, was not going to let that stop him from taking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding. According to him, the condition has left him with roughly a 20 percent chance of being able to walk again.
“They (surgeons) had to cut my neck open and it required an eight inch cut,” said Sheets. “They had to literally go in and scrape my spine. Before they even found it, I had lost the feeling in my legs. I’m getting some back and starting to move them but I’m nowhere able to stand up and walk yet. I’m basically lucky to be here.”
Sheets said doctors say he may use a wheelchair the rest of his life. He intends to fight for every step though as he goes through both occupational and physical therapy. He said he has no idea from where the infection came.
“I was in an induced coma for 10 days,” said Sheets. “They brought me out and the first thing I tell them was I couldn’t feel my legs. This all happened on January 26. I went in for back pain. They induced the coma with a ventilator at (Holzer Medical Center) and shipped me to (Riverside Methodist Hospital) to the neurocenter…I walked into the hospital, needless to say once I came off the ventilator there was no more walking around.”
Sheets said much of the process he doesn’t remember but there are pictures with him with his grandchildren in bed, awake. He said when he learned of his infection he initially wanted a second opinion and doctors told him there was no time for a second opinion as the infection had started to cause damage to his nervous system.
Gladys Grimmett-Sheets, George’s wife, said their daughter had rescheduled her wedding a few times to make certain her father did not miss it. George would then go into rehabilitation treatment after waking from the coma. He came home in early April.
He was able to go down the aisle with his daughter Linda at her wedding to her new husband Gregory Musser at the nearby Macedonia Church, April 28.
“We got a wheelchair three days before the wedding and that was cutting it close,” said George. “My brother-in-law, Justin Call, pushed us down the aisle and we did the father-daughter dance moving the wheelchair around. It wasn’t nowhere near what I wanted to do. I really wanted to be back on my feet and give her that traditional (dance)… It’s important that I got to be there.”
George said he wanted to recognize the event as something special for his daughter despite his obstacles. The family recognized the help of Iris and Justin Call as being important to helping George make the wedding. George said his family had to load him into a truck using a plywood ramp on short notice.
“I can’t really put into words how I felt,” said Linda. “It was amazing that he actually got to be there. I’ve not ever pictured my wedding having to sit in his lap and being wheeled down but it was actually even more inspirational to everybody (in the family)…He’s made the comment don’t reschedule (the wedding) just have it on video and this and that and I’ll see you outside the hospital and the nursing home. I wasn’t doing that.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.