LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – We know the saying ‘You can do anything you put your mind to.’ It sounds cliche, but one Arkansas man is the proof it’s true, turning a near-death diagnosis into a miraculous recovery.
On a visit back to Baptist Health in Little Rock, Billy Mounce piles piece after piece of candy in his bag. Stocking up on sweets is not something that’s typically encouraged in a hospital, but the lollipops Mounce passes out are not for any patient, they are for the staff he credits for saving his life.
“To me, the heroes and the angels wear scrubs at this hospital,” Mounce said.
A few months ago, Mounce started experiencing chest pains, his feet were swelling so he went to the doctor in Mountain Home. When he got there, they realized what was happening and quickly flew him to Little Rock.
“He was basically in complete heart failure and really needed mechanical support in order to make sure that he would stay alive,” Baptist Health Heart Failure and Transplant Medical Director Dr. Patrick Campbell said.
That was on February 27th.
“When I woke up again it was March 18th,” Mounce said.
Mounce spent almost 20 days in a coma and when he came out of that, he still wasn’t in the clear.
“We were worried at times obviously,” Dr. Campbell said. “He was very sick.”
Mounce said one of his nurses gave him the key to survival.
“If I lay in the bed, I’m dead to get up and walk,” Mounce said. “Well let’s get up.”
It didn’t happen on day one.
“Katie, my therapist, sat me up on the side of the bed and another nurse, Logan, they tried to stand me up, well my legs wouldn’t work,” Mounce said.
Where his heart was weak, his mind was strong.
“Your body doesn’t heal by laying down,” Mounce said. “It heals by getting up and doing.”
Step by step, in a week he was standing. Two weeks he was walking around his room.
“Within three weeks we were walking miles,” Mounce said.
That became a daily routine for him and Baptist Health RN Tianna Harvell.
“Everybody would always say, ‘That guy walking through the hallways what is he on? Is that ECMO? There’s no way he’s pushing ECMO through the hall’ and I’m like ‘yeah he is,'” Harvell said.
Pretty soon, he became quite popular around the hospital.
“Candy does that. Go to each unit and pass out suckers,” Mounce said.
“That was the main thing he did,” Harvell said. “He would go into the gift shop, get candy and pass it out to everybody.”
While the sweet treats, of course, didn’t hurt, Tianna said what really brought a smile to patients and staff’s faces was Mounce’s dedication, positive attitude and the progress he made day after day.
“You just have to push yourself, that’s the whole thing,” Mounce said. “If you want to get better there are reasons to live for.”
“Seeing a patient like that brightens your day,” Harvell said.
In more than 90 days in the hospital, doctors said Mounce went from just about the worst-case scenario, near death, needing a transplant, to being taken off the transplant list and now recovering at home.
“He was the model patient and probably had a lot to do with his recovery,” Dr. Campbell said.
A miraculous outcome that wouldn’t have been possible without incredible doctors and a lot of determination.
“If you can’t go above and beyond you don’t go at all,” Mounce said.
Mounce has been out of the hospital for a few weeks now. He still walks several miles a day.