FAITH: 33 days

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Editor's note: This article is from the recent "Homefolks: Faith" special section.

Thirty-three days changed the Wilson family forever and made their faith even stronger.

It was a typical Thursday morning on Nov. 21, 2019. Barry Wilson, the principal of Curry Middle School, and his wife, Amanda, a teacher at Sumiton Elementary School, were busy getting the day started with their children, Millicent, Brooks and Case. On the way to school that morning, Millicent noticed that her little brother, Case, had a left eye that appeared to be crossing. 

Case was enrolled in first-grade at the same school his mom teaches at, and around lunchtime, Amanda noticed Case's eyes were continuing to cross. She knew something wasn't right.

Amanda took Case to an area eye doctor later that day and learned his vision was fine, but doctors suggested he go to the emergency room to rule out meningitis, which can cause peculiar eye symptoms.

Barry and Amanda rushed Case to Children's of Alabama and watched as their son's condition deteriorated. 

"By Friday, everything was just getting weaker," Amanda said.

Doctors had to start Case on a feeding tube due to difficulty swallowing. He also started retaining fluid, had a fever, and was seeing double. A spinal tap was performed to test for nearly 40 illnesses, but the Wilson's still had no answers when their son was intubated a day later.

"They really didn't know. They called him a mystery man," Barry said.

After nearly one week in the hospital, doctors said Case could have Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder that causes the immune system to attack healthy nerve cells, resulting in muscle weakness, numbness and tingling, and temporary paralysis. His spinal tap also indicated Case could have Myasthenia gravis, a neuromuscular disorder that causes weakness.

To this day, however, Case was never definitively diagnosed. Barry said doctors believe a virus could have caused the mystery illness.

Case's parents witnessed their son make great strides on his road to recovery and admitted that he had a few setbacks.

"It seemed like every time we got bad news, it was always on time that God would send somebody or tell somebody something to call us," Barry said. 

There were several days that Case was awake while he was intubated, and he was provided with a tablet to verbalize his needs. One day Case asked to see his siblings, who had not been allowed to visit him due to his condition. On Thanksgiving Day the siblings were reunited, and another blessing came on day 12 when Case's breathing tube was removed.

Case was already doing physical therapy and working to get stronger every day. 

"Therapy was extremely hard. Somedays it was excruciating," Amanda said.

The Wilson's feared their son would not be home for Christmas, but God and Case had other plans. On Dec. 23, 2019, 33 days after being admitted to the hospital, Case came home.

"We look back on it and, 33 days, it's a little over a month, but when we were in there it felt like a year almost. The days were forever long," Amanda said.

Police officers escorted the Wilson family home from the hospital and many people were gathered at their residence with welcome home signs.

"The yard was full of people," Barry said.  

The Wilson's said there was no lack of community support through it all, and expressed their gratitude to their school families, church family, friends, and others who were unwavering in their support. 

It wasn't long until Case was back at school in January 2020.

"They told us when we left Dec. 23 that he probably would not be walking 100 percent anywhere between six months to a year, and he went back to school on Jan. 29 with the leg braces on," Barry said.   

Case spent months doing physical therapy, but he has still been active in school and plays sports.

"He's a little stubborn, but I think it paid off," Amanda said. "He's one of the strongest kids I know." 

The Wilson's held strong to their faith through it all, and their advice to other parents going through similar situations is to always surround yourself with positive people who believe in miracles.

"It didn't matter what happened, we still were going to love and serve God because he's sovereign in all this," Barry said. "That's the way we try to be when we talk to other people about it. Now we had our moments late at night, me and her, while he was asleep. We would have our own moments together praying as a couple and trying to figure it out."  

Amanda added, "We're very blessed, and we just had faith that God would heal him."