Sussex councilman has new lease on life

Sam Wilson on mend after heart surgery, thanks supporters
Sussex County Councilman Sam Wilson speaks out during his first meeting after heart surgery in November. BY RON MACARTHUR
January 10, 2014

Sussex County Councilman Sam Wilson has a new lease on life as the New Year starts.

Wilson attended his first meeting in nearly two months Jan. 7 after undergoing major heart surgery.

Sporting a new mustache and 30 pounds lighter, Wilson thanked council and staff for their support during his recovery. “It's been a real blessing during a very trying time,” he said.

He also thanked his family for helping him recover.

Wilson, 75, said he was not feeling well the week before Thanksgiving. He should know because he has had eight stints inserted over the past 10 years.

“I thought I needed another stint, but I had no idea what the doctor would find,” he said. “I thought I would go in and be raring to go in a day or two. I was planning to be back home in time for church that Sunday.”

What the doctor found was 90-percent blockage. “The doctor said I was in pretty bad shape. He said I was fortunate to make it to the hospital,” Wilson said.

His operation at Peninsula Regional Medical Center ended up a five-bypass procedure that lasted more than five hours. Wilson is quick to give some of the credit to God for his successful operation. “God had a lot to do with the reason I'm living today,” he said.

During the first few minutes in the recovery room as he came out of the anesthesia, Wilson said, he had one thing on his mind: getting out of the hospital.

“I was up walking around the next morning; the nurse couldn't keep up with me,” he said.

After five days, he was sent home. “I was in pain and really struggled to get in and out of the car,” he said.

Wilson has completely lost his appetite. “Everything tastes like cardboard to me,” he said. Over the past six weeks, his diet has consisted mostly of Boost, a nutritional supplement.

This week, he has tried to eat more food and even had a few tastes of pizza.

“The doctor told me to get my mind going again,” he said. That's why he decided to attend the Jan. 7 meeting; Council President Mike Vincent escorted Wilson to the meeting.

Wilson was tired following the meeting, and slept all morning the following day. “I have not gotten up this late my entire life,” he said.

“They tell me when I'm fully recovered, I'll be like a new man,” he said. “I'm looking forward to that because today I'm an old man.”

Wilson, a Republican and lifelong farmer, was first elected to county council to represent District 2 in 2008; he was reelected in 2012. “I was still plan to tell it the way I see it and to try to keep the council conservative,” he said.

It's not in Wilson's nature to sit around, rest and do nothing. He's not denying the recovery process hasn't been tough. “I've definitely caught up on my rest,” he said.

Wilson's morale got a big boost when County Administrator Todd Lawson delivered a large 3-by-6-foot get-well card to him signed by county employees. “That meant a lot to me,” Wilson said.