Miracle on ice

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Each holiday season Bill and Charlotte Burton of Marion remember a special time 15 years ago when they believe God spoke directly to Bill to save him from a cerebral hemorrhage.


Bill readily acknowledges that he believes in God and the lordship of Jesus Christ, but he has no idea other than grace why he was spared that blustery winter day.


He carries on an old family tradition from the bluegrass music his mother once performed to occasionally sing in churches, but counts himself, other than that, fortunate to just live like a normal human being.


After being in the Air Force in Kansas, Bill had farmed and been a cattle hauler in Kansas. He’d lived in Kansas some time before he followed a dream to return to Scio, Ohio, to operate his own 50-cow dairy farm.


That’s where his miracle happened.


“On Dec. 16, 1985, it was a cold wintry day,” he said. “It was snowing, and the wind was blowing. It was Saturday, so my wife went to get a load of coal.


“I went to the woods to cut firewood. I loaded the chain saw in the trailer, hooked it to the tractor, and was off to the woods not knowing what was going to happen.


“I had been cutting wood for about one hour when I started getting dizzy. I shut the chain saw off, and set it down.


“I was about to pass out when I heard a voice-it was clear as a bell, just like I can hear you. It told me to go over, and lay down in a big snow drift. I made it to the snow drift, and laid down my head right down in it.


“I slept about one and a half hours, then woke up. I had blood coming out my ears, nose and mouth. I got up, loaded my firewood I had cut, put the saw in the trailer, got on the tractor, and drove home. My wife had just pulled up to the house with the coal, and I told her she had better get me to the doctor.”


Bill said doctors at the hospital in Cadiz, Ohio, were unsure what was wrong with him, but after four hours there, he had “thawed out,” and the blood started running faster.


Medical staff from Cadiz took him to the Ohio Valley Medical Center at Wheeling, W.V., a mere 40-mile journey that took four hours because of severe weather, because they didn’t think he would survive, he said.


Doctors would later tell him that it was only the rapid chilling of his head that prolonged his life until he got help.


“The doctors at the hospital were waiting for me,” Bill said. “They took me into I.C.U., and Dr. Ash told me I had had a massive cerebral hemorrhage.


“I went into a coma, and on Monday morning they put a shunt in my head that was to relieve the pressure on the brain. I was in a coma until Dec. 29.


“When I woke up the doctor came in and talked to me. He told me I was going to die. I had to sign everything over to my wife so I did. Then he told me that he could operate on my head, but there was no guarantee as to what would happen.


“He said that I would probably die on the operating table during surgery. It would take around 15 hours to do the surgery, and if I lived I would be a vegetable. He said he would wait until after New Year’s because he wanted all of his good help to be back to help him. I told him to go for it.


“On Jan. 3, 1986, at 5:30 in the morning they took me into surgery, and they worked on me 151/2 hours. My wife thought I had died.”


Bill said doctors removed a large portion of his brain.


He not only survived, but in an hour he was sitting up talking to everyone just like nothing had happened.


“The Lord had done it again,” he said. “I was saved back in 1954 at the Methodist Church in Perrysville, Ohio. I have always believed in God, and always will.”


When Bill later returned to try to thank the doctor for saving his life, the doctor pointed up “and said I had better just thank the Lord, so I do.”


Bill said on Jan. 16 the doctor told him he could go home.


“I weighed only 69 pounds and had to sit up at night to sleep,” he said. “When I got home, everything went to pieces. I started having grand mall seizures so they increased my medicine until they got it under control.


“I started reading the Bible. This is the verse that stood out for me to see, Mark 5:19: ‘Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him. Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”


Bill said the “ups and downs” of life continued for him and Charlotte through this just as they had all year. They had lost a daughter, Robin, in an auto accident earlier in 1985.


Their daughters, Julie, Pat and Crystal helped with the dairy as best they could while Bill tried to recover while thinking of the things he couldn’t do.


Bill’s sons, Randy from LaCrosse and Rusty from Medicine Lodge, young men who were called to Ohio for what they thought would be his death, stayed into February to help.


Rusty was buried when 3,000 stacked bales of hay, slick with ice, collapsed under him, but managed to crawl out.


Gilbert Burton, Bill’s father, broke his leg in the same accident.


Bill tried to return to farming, but the doctor told him he could never get on a tractor again, or risk hard physical activity. He and Charlotte decided to sell out, and return to Kansas where he enjoys yard work, gardening and activities such as fishing.


The Burtons attend the United Methodist Church in Aulne. Recently, Bill has performed musically at the United Methodist Church of Mizpah in north-central Kansas, and he will soon be going to Rosselle west of Rush Center.


He continues with medications and regular physical examinations to this day.

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