Arbogast credits God for miracle recovery
Just six months ago, Wayne Arbogast was at death's door -ﾠ lying in a Virginia hospital bed with no brain activity. Doctors said there was little hope. His insurance company wanted him out of the hospital and moved into a nursing home.
Today, the retired mechanic is making a full recovery at his Frost home, nursed back to health by wife Mable.
Asked how he survived a near-fatal bout of viral encephalitis, Wayne said, "God brought me back and let me live."
Many prayed for Wayne's recovery. The Arbogasts are dedicated Christians and members of the Word of Faith Church in Monterey, Virginia.
During his illness, wife Mable constantly asked God to bring back her beloved husband, who had cared for her and prayed for her when she was stricken with leukemia. Pastor Jeff Johns, of Lafayette, Indiana, and his father, friends from the Monterey church, held a prayer meeting in Indiana and rode their motorcycles from Indiana to a Roanoke hospital to pray for Wayne.
Ten men from Wayne's church came to his bedside and took turns leading a prayer.
"They came in and they prayed over him," she said. "Each one of those men led a prayer and told the Lord, 'if you want Wayne, you take him, but if you don't take him, please bring him back the way he was.'"
The avid motorcyclist started feeling bad in November 2008. Suffering from pain and fatigue, he began sleeping day and night. His doctor at Augusta Medical Center in Fisherville Virginia, thought the retired mechanic might be suffering from depression.
"I couldn't figure out what was going on," Wayne said. "Most of the time when you get aches and pains you got to work it out a little bit and it leaves. But this just continued to hang around and get worse."
On January 13, Mable was unable to get Wayne to eat. Thinking he might have suffered a stroke, she took him to Pocahontas Memorial Hospital (PMH) emergency room, where she said the staff went to work to get a correct diagnosis.
"God bless them," Mable said. "They just went right to work on him and got him a CAT-scan and they saw how severe he was."
Dr. Mical Jarrett suspected a brain tumor and sent Wayne to Roanoke Memorial Hospital (RMH) for a CAT-scan. On January 15, a spinal tap at RMH revealed the true cause of Wayne's suffering -ﾠ aﾠ viral infection causing his brain to swell - a malady known as viral encephalitis.
RMH doctors immediately started Wayne on a 21-day regimen of anti-viral medication. But the retired mechanic's condition deteriorated and he lapsed into a coma on January 23. Doctors told Mable that brain activity had ceased and prepared her for the worst. She prayed for a miracle.
"They told me and my family to make a decision," she said. "He had no brain activity. They wanted to put a feeding tube in him and I wouldn't let them because both of us do not want to be kept alive with tubes."
Somehow, the following morning, Wayne climbed out of the darkness and struggled to lift one eyelid. Seeing Mable at his bedside, he whispered, "I love you." That evening, as Wayne slept, his church friends prayed at his bedside. The next day, he was sitting up, eating meals and anxious to go home.
The same insurance company that wanted Wayne in a nursing home now said Wayne was better and ready to go home.
But the wife knew better. After Wayne was discharged from Roanoke Memorial Hospital (RMH) on January 28, Mable took him back to PMH and it's a good thing she did.
The disease had not run its course and Wayne suffered a partial relapse. PMH doctors repeated the anti-viral regimen and monitored his condition for more than a month. Satisfied with his progress, Dr. Jarrett released Wayne to Mable's care on April 4. The couple returned to their Frost home, where Wayne has made a difficult but remarkable recovery.
Doctors said one of his temporal lobes, the brain's center for memory, speech and hearing, was severely damaged by the disease. He has applied for treatment at the University of Virginiaﾠ Medical Center memory clinic in Charlottesville,Virginia, but has not yet been accepted.
But somehow, to the great joy of family and friends, the Frost resident is getting back to his old self. Now receiving visitors at his Frost home, Wayne said prayers from family and friends brought him back from the brink of death.
Mable agrees but gives a lot of credit to the staff at PMH, especially Dr. Jarrett. First, she said, Jarrett helped get a correct diagnosis of Wayne's condition. Later, after his insurance company pressured him out of the hospital in Roanoke, PMH took care of Wayne for more than a month and successfully treated him during the relapse.
"Altogether, Wayne was in the hospital for three months and most of it was spent at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital," she said. "They took good care of him. I want people to know we really need that hospital down there."
The Arbogasts still are fighting the insurance company to get payment for the second stay at PMH, with help from Dr. Jarrett.
Wayne was born and raised in Mill Gap, Virginia. He worked as a logger, farmer and then as a heavy equipment mechanic for more than 30 years.
Mable was born and raised in Woodrow and lived in Frost for five years before moving to Virginia.
The couple met in 1980 and were married the same year. They lived in Richmond, MacDowell and Monterey before settling down in Frost after Wayne's retirement last year.
Wayne hopes to be able to ride his Harley Davidson Electra Glide later this year. Due to his brain injury, he will have to take his driver's test again but said that will be no problem.
Many family and friends are fellow bikers who look forward to riding with Wayne again. They will hold a poker run on August 21 to help pay some of the Arbogast's medical expenses. Registration is open to all riders and will begin at 9 a.m. at the Word of Faith Church in Monterey. The ride starts at 10 a.m.
Dinner at the church will follow at 5 p.m. The menu includes pulled pork barbecue, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, baked beans and dessert. Voluntary donations will be accepted and prayers are encouraged.