COLUMBUS — The last year has been a roller coaster ride for 71-year-old Doug Oliver, who was rushed to a hospital in August 2021 with severe abdominal pain.
He spent the next nine months lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life after doctors found an abdominal infection.
“[The doctor] says, we took out two balls of infection that were the size of a fist,” Oliver, a Columbus-area resident, said Thursday.
He underwent one surgery after another and was eventually moved to Stillwater Billings Clinic in Columbus.
“I had four tubes sticking out of me… I remember looking down at me and thinking ‘my god,’ you know? My legs were like this,” Oliver said while holding up his hand making a small circle.
Many of the nurses at the clinic believed he wouldn’t make it.
“He surprised us all because he was so sick… You’d look at him and you’d go, how are you breathing?” said Brenda Self, one of Oliver's nurses during his stay.
However, Oliver survived and was released in January 2022. On Thursday, he returned to the Stillwater Billings Clinic to personally thank the team that kept him alive.
“Not only the physical care that they gave me but the emotional care,” Oliver said.
Another person highlighted during Thursday's gathering was Oliver's wife of over 30 years, Lynn Oliver. Lynn worked with the nurses to learn how to care for Oliver outside of the hospital. This kept Oliver from going to a nursing home.
“I really, I didn’t think I could do that to a nursing home,” Lynn said while laughing with her husband.
She learned how to drain his tubes, dress them and keep him healthy.
“You do what you got to do. I mean, it is amazing how you can find that strength to do things that you thought, oh god I could never do that, but you do,” she said.
Oliver is now on his way to a full recovery and says he plans on living to 100 years old.
“I feel great. It’s like nothing ever happened,” Oliver said.