It only takes a few minutes with Tommy “Hillbilly” Smith, 59, to see his joy. The former Marine can play just about any musical instrument in his Morristown pawnshop like a pro, and always with a smile.
Smith loves to give and he loves to live. Since undergoing brain surgery at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, he loves life even more.
“That hospital is a blessing to so many people,” Smith says.
Cloudy on the sides
Smith was at a shooting range with his wife when he first noticed something was wrong.
“I had clouds in my vision,” Smith says. “That’s the only way I can describe it…clouds or gray areas around my eyes.”
Smith went to his eye doctor for tests. But the problem was not in his eyes.
Next he went to see Paul Peterson, MD, an expert in brain surgery at Fort Sanders Regional. Dr. Peterson said there was a cyst near Smith’s pituitary gland.
Dr. Peterson felt confident about removing it, but the idea of brain surgery was scary for Smith. The day before the surgery, Smith got up early as he does every day to say a prayer of thanks for his blessings and a prayer of repentance for his mistakes. He is filled with emotion as he remembers the words he prayed.
Cloudy to clear
Later that night, Smith says, peace covered him. He went to Fort Sanders Regional the next morning, fully confident in Dr. Peterson and the hospital.
Today Smith says he’s doing great – and he’s grateful for it. As a way of “paying it forward,” he’s now teaching free music lessons at his pawnshop.
Smith has expressed his thanks to God in prayer and to Fort Sanders Regional with words of praise. While he was impressed by everyone he met at the hospital, he was just as impressed by the how kind they were to him.
“My experience at Fort Sanders Regional was heavenly. There’s a lot of angels there,” Smith says.