DESOTO -- July 20th was a normal sunny day in DeSoto until it became anything but normal for former DeSoto Mayor Michael Hurtt.
”I couldn’t get my legs under me and the room was spinning.”
Hurtt collapsed in his bedroom. His wife Marylin rushed to his side and called 911.
“They told me to cross my arms as they were moving me from the floor to the cot and that’s the last thing I remember," he says.
The first conscious memory was waking up in the Intensive Care Unit at Charleton Methodist Hospital. Six weeks had gone by.
”I knew nothing about what happened that whole period of time," Hurtt says.
Doctors had placed Michael in a medically-induced coma after diagnosing him with West Nile. The virus caused Encephalitis.
”It’s evidently an inflammation of the nerves in your brain and it applies a lot of pressure and it can cause mental damage, stroke, seizures," Hurtt says.
Doctors told his wife to prepare for the worst.
”They said he may die or come out with paralysis.”
All of this was caused by one mosquito bite.
“I never dreamed a mosquito would bite me with West Nile virus. I didn’t have a clue," Hurtt says.
He adds that he’s not sure when he was bitten, maybe while grilling or mowing the lawn.
Typically people with West Nile have a fever, body aches or flu-like symptoms, but he didn’t have any of that before he collapsed.
”I hadn’t felt bad. I went to work every day to do what I normally do," he says.
It took Hurtt weeks to be able to walk and talk again. He’s been in intense physical therapy, he says, with some of the best doctors in the region.
The cost of treatment is well over a quarter of a million dollars, but he says he’s blessed. Some people die from West Nile or have long-term effects.
”I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God answers prayers. That was one thing that is kind of hard to describe, but I was at peace the whole time there.”
For weeks churches, prayer groups and citizens have been praying for Hurtt. The popular former mayor who runs a funeral home in DeSoto gets teary eyed when he talks about the out pouring of support, the hundreds of cards and prayers.
“This community cares, I saw it with 9/11, I saw it with Hurricane Katrina, and Lord they have responded. I don’t know how to say thank you properly.”
Hurtt says he knows God spared his life for a greater purpose, maybe to spread the word about the dangers of West Nile.
"I am convinced the good Lord is not done with me," he says.
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