|Updated: 9/10/2012 10:03 am
||Published: 9/07/2012 7:05 pm
The outbreak of the West Nile Virus continues to grow in Oklahoma with 123 confirmed cases and seven deaths statewide.
The Tulsa Health Department said 29 of those cases and two of the deaths were in Tulsa.
South Tulsa resident Jim Schmidt was one of the lucky ones who survived.
Schmidt was in Florida on vacation with his family back on July 8 when he started feeling sick. His wife made him go to the emergency room in Orlando a week later when he continued to get worse.
For five days doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him, until they finally diagnosed him with West Nile Virus.
For two weeks Schmidt stayed in the Intensive Care Unit in pretty bad shape.
"Those two weeks I don't really remember," he said. "My wife says I was kind of a mean patient. I do remember sleeping on ice for five nights, 105 degree fever."
West Nile Virus attacks the nervous system, specifically the nerves that receive messages from the brain. For weeks, Schmidt barely slept, dealt with a lack of control over his muscles, and suffered through overwhelming pain.
"It felt like 1,000 little men the size of ants inside you trying to saw, gnaw and maybe flame their way out of your bones," Schmidt said.
His wife, Sheila, wasn't sure he was going to make it.
"There was one day that I actually got on my iPhone and went into my deleted folder where my voicemails were and started undeleting his messages because I wanted to save his voice," Sheila said.
But at that moment everything suddenly changed for her.
"I'm not going to believe that he's going to die," she said. "I'm going to believe he's going to live. And I started working toward that."
After more than a month in Florida, Schmidt was finally able to come home to Tulsa. His strength grew and he focused on staying positive as thousands of prayers and messages of support poured in from across the world.
"It's a frightening thing, but you can't let fear take over. You've got to keep positive, because if the fear takes over you're going to stay down," he said.
It's that attitude and some help from God, Schmidt said, that saved his life.
"You've got your prayer, you've got your thought life, and you've got some goal-setting. And you just have to do it."
Now that he's back to being able to drive, write, use a computer, and even go running, Schmidt sees his recovery as a true miracle.
"No one can convince me there's not gravity, because, even though I can't see it, there is gravity," he said. "No one can convince me that prayer didn't keep [me] alive."
Schmidt has no idea where or when the mosquito that gave him West Nile Virus bit him.
The Tulsa Health Department confirmed it has sprayed pesticides in his neighborhood more than once this summer to try and eliminate the mosquito population.
The health department also said it ordered extra pesticide this week in case the mosquito season runs longer than normal.