“Weather is wicked,” said Shelby Hughes, a sophomore business management major from Troy, as she retold the story of the day she was struck by lightning.
On Saturday, Aug. 20, around 2:15 p.m., it began to rain at the Hughes’ home. As the rain began to pour, Hughes rushed outside to catch her escaped dog as her mother and father worked to keep the rain out of the house.
After capturing her dog, Hughes looked over at her mother to see her shielding her face.
Hughes looked to her left to see what she described as “the brightest light I have ever seen in my life.”
Shortly after, Hughes heard a deafening sound that sounded like “cannons going off.”
Seconds later, as Hughes moved to get out of the way, the lightning traveled through the water she was standing in and struck her.
“The emergency room doctors in Montgomery determined from labs and blood work that it went in my left ankle, traveled up my left leg, through my stomach, in my chest, through my heart and out my right shoulder.” said Hughes.
Though the lightning did not hit her directly, Hughes did sustain several injuries.
According to the Washington Post, being struck by lightning is known for causing injuries as severe as third-degree burns, ruptured eardrums and brain damage. In other cases the strikes can cause cardiac arrest, seizures, comas and temporary to permanent paralysis.
After several medical tests, Hughes’ doctors found that her myosin-actin count, the enzymes that help muscles release and contract, was 836, whereas the normal count levels are typically between 200-220.
According to her doctors, when myosin-actin levels reach the thousands, they begin to shut organs down.
After she drank heavy fluids and rested, Hughes’ numbers began to come down.
“I think that if it weren’t for the prayers, I think my numbers would still be up,” Hughes said as she spoke of the support from her family, friends and church. “I’m just thankful for all the prayers that went up on my behalf.”
Henry Barwood, a professor of the chemistry and physics department, discussed the dangers of the phenomenon.
“There are about 100 lightning strikes per second around the world,” said Barwood.
According to Barwood, direct hits from lightning strikes almost always end in fatalities. In the rare chance that a person lives, it is almost always with sustained, severe injuries.
Barwood discussed some of the preventative measures individuals can take to avoid being struck by lightning.
“Get out of the path of the lightning. If there is a thunderstorm, get indoors,” Barwood said.
“If you are caught out in the open and there is a severe lightning storm, the best advice I can give is to lie down. Get as close to the ground as you can because you make a less attractive path for the lightning to get to the ground through you.”
Though she was not given a definite date of recovery, Hughes is continuing to drink fluids and rest, and her numbers are gradually going down. Hughes is expected to make a full recovery with no lasting effects.