Planning a very merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Local COVID survivor feeling blessed this holiday season

Many local residents are counting their blessings this Christmas season, but none more so than Mike Hemphill, who last year survived a weeks-long bout with COVID and months of rehabilitation.


Hemphill, who was flown to a Springfield hospital in August 2020 after his wife, Glenda, became concerned about his breathing, was diagnosed with COVID-19, a collapsed lung, and pneumonia. He landed in the COVID ward of the hospital for five weeks.

After several weeks of rehabilitation, Hemphill came home Oct. 6 last year, and has been given a clean bill of health.

“This time last year, I was still learning to walk and talk and swallow,” he said. “I lack the stamina that I used to have, but therapists say my lungs are clear and appear to be doing well.”

In light of so many unknowns about the virus, Hemphill said doctors are writing the book as they go.

“When you survive something like this, you find yourself reading everything you can about it,” he said. “But there are still so many things they just don’t know about this virus, and it’s still a waiting game for many people.”

Hemphill said the last thing he remembers is watching Wheel of Fortune on television.

“They made her wait on the parking lot of the hospital and after 15 minutes, told her they were flying me to Springfield,” he said. “I don’t remember any of that. Or my stay on the COVID unit. I woke up when they brought me back to Monett for rehabilitation.”

Although he is not sure how he and his wife both contracted COVID, Hemphill is an advocate for masking, especially as new strains of the virus emerge and begin making the rounds in the community.

“It’s not for me,” he said. “It’s for you, your kids, my neighbors and people who are already [health] compromised.”

Hemphill credits the real heroes in the fight against COVID.

“It’s the nurses,” he said. “They are the heroes. I heard one lost eight patients in one night in Springfield. That takes a toll on them. They have to put on all that gear and work six or eight hours at a time and when they take it off, they are just covered in sweat. They go through so much serving their patients. I can’t imagine how hard it is on them.”

This year is a very special one for the Hemphill family.

“My three daughters and son-in-laws and my nine grandchildren, along with 11 dogs, will all be with us this Christmas,” he said. “I feel really blessed. I found out after I returned home that so many people had been praying for me. I didn’t know how many friends I really had. I’m very blessed to be here to celebrate the Christmas season with them.

“Monett is also very blessed to have the medical facilities that we do,” he said. “I feel like they saved my life.”

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