Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 January 2015 15:49 Written by Administrator Monday, 22 December 2014 11:06
By Shelayne Witte
Special to The Miscellany
JOHNS ISLAND—When Steve Hurn first suffered a stroke to his brain stem, he didn’t want to be alive.
Doctors said it was the type of stroke that kills 99.9 percent of people; but Steve survived — barely. He was alive, but suffering from Locked-In Syndrome, which meant he was aware but could not move or communicate verbally; completely paralyzed except for the eyes. There is no treatment or cure, and doctors told the family his life expectancy was two to five years.
Steve wanted to die. With Locked-In Syndrome your mind is whole, you see, hear and comprehend everything, but you can’t move a muscle. You can’t talk, swallow, or speak. You can only blink. That’s how Steve communicates — by blinking yes or no.
Every life has a purpose, but I wondered why someone must suffer so much? Now, 12 years later, Steve is still alive and I am starting to figure it out.
Steve was a Charleston County Sheriff’s Deputy for 22 years and a U.S. Air Force veteran. We were married in 1982 in the Catholic Church, but divorced a few years later. He was a good man, raised in a Christian home by loving parents, and we remained friends.
Eventually, Steve obtained a communication device that allowed him to blink out a letter at a time. That is the only way he can tell nurses about pain, or that he needs his pillow fluffed, or has an itch to scratch. It requires someone to assist and it takes about 30 minutes to blink out a sentence.
For years, I asked the Lord why he had to suffer so much and to tell me how to help Steve. One day I looked at him and started to cry. I begged God to show me what He wanted — to show me why Steve was still here. It was then that I found a notebook filled with requests he had painstakingly blinked out. On several pages his friend had written, “please bring me my Bible, bring me my cross necklace.”
That’s when I realized that he was reaching out to God. I asked if he wanted me to read the scriptures and he blinked “yes”. I read the Bible to him, played Christian music, prayed the rosary, and listened to the Liturgy of the Hours. After some time, I called my priest, who began to visit Steve and brought him into the Catholic Church.
Steve contracted pneumonia recently and was sent to the hospital, where he saw his original speech therapist from 2002. She asked if he still wanted to die, as he had at first, and he blinked a firm “no”. She was surprised — why after all these years of suffering would he want to live? She asked what had changed.
He told her it was his faith and love of God. The nurse began to cry.
Once, his mother asked if all his suffering could save one soul, would the past 12 years be worth it? He said, “yes”.
Steve and I are sharing his story so others out there who suffer — and those who take care of them — can see God always has a plan. It is not always our plan, but every life has a purpose in the kingdom of God.
Through all his suffering and pain, Steve is at peace. There is a purpose for his life and hope for everyone who suffers. He is still protecting people like he did as an officer and a soldier; he is a prayer warrior.