“On July 15 2007, the day that changed my life, I had just come inside from cutting wood all day as a storm approached. I was wet because it started to rain. I was walking through my garage to get a can of soda out of the fridge, when all of a sudden a bolt of lightning came through the fridge door and hit me. I couldn't let go of the door of the refrigerator it felt like it took forever. I could hear myself screaming in my head… I'm not sure how long I was in the garage before I made it back into the house. I can remember crawling up the stairs feeling very disoriented everything was sore got into the house set in the chair just couldn't believe what just happened. About a half an hour later it felt like something was behind my eyes trying to push them out of my head, so that's when I went to the ER - got hooked up to every machine possible, ran every test imaginable. Doctors, nurses running around not knowing what to do… the doctor told me he had never seen anybody survive this before. After five hours in the hospital and all the tests come back normal, they released me and told me if anything changes to come back immediately. Three days later I was back at the hospital having seizures, they did some MRIs and found nothing. That was my first experience.
My second experience happened in June 2008 about 2AM- I woke up to a storm coming in. Just seconds after I woke up, a bolt of lightning came through the window. It was only open about a half an inch i'm not sure where the lightning went in, but I saw it come out of my fingers and go into a wall socket in the house and disappear. I didn't go to the ER that time because they didn't do anything for me the first time. I was monitoring myself and if anything changed I would've gone.
Both of those strikes I was living in Connecticut at the time, and then my third time was in August 2016. We were living in North Carolina now and moving from one house to another, so we were packing up. I was in the kitchen, it was a bright and sunny day. I could see and feel storm building in the distance when all of a sudden a lightning bolt hit our concrete patio just outside the kitchen sliding door. It was like slow-motion, watching the lightning come across the concrete underneath the sliding door across the tile floor and up through my feet. Three of my kids were in the kitchen also. Not one of them felt a thing, I got the brunt of it. I started having trouble breathing so my son took me to the ER where again they ran all kinds of tests found elevated enzyme levels and kept me for 6-8 hours. When my enzyme levels had come down, the ER doctor here and nurses and said they'd never seen anything like this before.
I can remember in all three of these strikes the heat of the lightning the sizzle sound the metallic taste it leaves in your mouth and the extreme pain it causes. I now live with memory problems, cognitive thinking problems, anger issues, nerve pain. I have two bulging disc's and a crushed disc and bone spurs in my back, a torn labrum in my arm, neuropathy in my feet, severe PTSD, headaches sleep issues nightmares etc.
But I am a survivor and I make the most out of each day with my family and friends, and my new family of all the lightning strike and electrical shock survivors. Everyone I've met and talked to through these groups and conferences have been wonderful and now they are all my new family.”
-Gary, ABI & Lightning Strike Survivor