WARRENVILLE, SC (WFXG) - Imagine you're outside working to earn an honest day's pay and suddenly you're struck down by a lightning strike. That outlandish scenario is a reality for one Midland Valley resident.
Sitting outside has a whole new meaning for Thomas Rowell. "When I see clouds come, I'mma hide."
He said heard what sounded like an explosion while painting units at Carriage Park Condominiums. A lightning strike went through his foot and out of his shoulder.
"It took me down and basically that's it. And they say I'm lucky to be here."
He struggles to remember everything that happened, but there is one thing he's sure of. "Whenever I fell to the ground it felt like somebody strapped their arm around my waist, and there was just a calm feeling and it's hard to describe it because it was a peaceful feeling. It was God, I know it was cause it had to be. Ain't nobody else going to make me feel like that."
Moments after, he said he was afraid to go to the hospital. "After the fact, I got weak, kept wanting to go to sleep. I knew something wasn't right so that's why I went and the ambulance bill was high."
This isn't the first time he's faced life-threatening injuries. He survived a crash that alerted doctors to a tumor in his brain, brain surgery led to metal plates in his head. He also experienced a spider bite that caused him to have surgery, a fall off a roof and kidney failure. He said this latest incident hurts because people have made jokes about him getting struck by lightning.
"Take it seriously because when you get struck by lightning you could die in a second," he said.
As someone who makes his living doing odd jobs, he's not sure what his future holds. Doctors told him the strike shattered muscles in his legs, a condition that could take years to recover from. And with no insurance, he's hesitant to go to the hospital for follow up visits.
Rowell said he is hoping an application for emergency medication will help, but he isn't sure of how he'll find work to pay his new medical bills.
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