One minute Phil Busey was walking and the next minute he couldn't take one step, his lower body turning into the consistency of “jelly.”
Emergency room doctors tried to determine what had caused the Edmond man's rapid paralysis.
The numbness began with his feet and proceeded quickly to his legs.
“I walked into the ER, and four hours later, I couldn't move,” Busey said.
It immediately became apparent to medical personnel and Busey's wife, Cathy, that the paralysis was spreading upward and about to take over his torso, arms and internal functions. For Phil Busey, 61, who had experienced a serious lung ailment the year before, this May day was fast becoming life-altering.
Today, as the Busey family prepares to light red Christmas candles — one for each member present at the holiday dinner table — they are especially grateful that a crimson candle will be lit for him.
After all, the family considers Phil Busey's ability to walk a miracle from on high.
“God is moving in our lives, but sometimes we are moving so fast, we don't see it,” Phil Busey said.
People often seem to expect the miraculous during a season that celebrates the miracle of Christ's birth.
More than 2,000 years ago, the prophecy of a Savior was fulfilled by the infant Jesus' arrival in a lowly Bethlehem manger, according to Scripture.
Several local clergy said modern-day miracles are much like that long-ago miracle: They may not come in neat, tidy packages, but they are miracles nonetheless, another way of experiencing Christ as Immanuel — “God with us.”
“People don't talk about them a lot of times, and we are reminded of them because of the stories and programs that we see at Christmas,” said the Rev. Don Wolf, pastor of St. Eugene Catholic Church.
“People find that things in their lives are working out and circumstances are conspiring in their favor. They look back and they start to realize that maybe this wasn't just coincidence that the things that they needed were provided for in ways we can't explain. The official word for that is ‘providence.'”
The Buseys, members of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, said miracles can be seen in large and small ways, in the little things that people take for granted and in other, much more significant occurrences.
The Rev. Chad Clement, pastor of Truth Baptist Church, said much the same thing.
“I think during the Advent season and Christmas, we see many examples of God moving,” Clement said. “God is glorified when He does the impossible.”
Cathy Busey, 56, said she has learned over the past several months that doctors typically don't look for rare maladies such as Guillain-Barre syndrome when symptoms like those her husband was experiencing first show up.
However, Phil Busey's physician, Dr. Elwood Williams, had him tested for the disease in a matter of days, rather than weeks. The Buseys consider that quick diagnosis miraculous. Not only did the speedy diagnosis and resulting treatment keep the paralysis from spreading to Phil Busey's lungs, which were weak because of a bout with a prior ailment, it also is helping to speed up his recovery, Cathy Busey said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guillain-Barre syndrome, or GBS, is a rare disorder in which a person's own immune system damages the body's nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. GBS can cause symptoms that last for a few weeks. Most people recover fully from GBS, but some have permanent nerve damage. In very rare cases, people have died of GBS, usually from difficulty breathing.
“About 90 percent of people who have this have to be put on a ventilator because they are completely paralyzed,” Cathy Busey said.
Phil Busey and his wife said they have experienced other miracles as well.
For instance, Phil Busey entered the hospital May 20 — the day a deadly tornado barreled through Moore, where the Busey's daughter Emily works as a schoolteacher at Highland East Junior High. Cathy Busey said as doctors searched for solutions, she and her husband watched from his hospital room the television news accounts about the twister, not knowing if their daughter was OK. Emily Busey was able to get in touch with her parents later that day, and although her car was totaled, she escaped without injury.
There also is such a thing as miraculous timing, they said.
The couple said they had launched a major renovation of their home a few weeks before Phil Busey became ill. Cathy Busey said their designer had suggested making modifications that included handicapped accessibility since they were becoming older. Cathy Busey said even as the family was discovering the various aspects of her husband's recovery, the floors in their home were made level and other modifications were being completed that proved beneficial.