Published 12:33 am Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Seizure sends couple to hospital, doesn’t stop Friday night ceremony

Once David Jernigan decided to make Kathy Chapell his bride, not even a seizure could stop him.

The Jernigans were married in the emergency room of Andalusia Health on Friday night.

Mrs. Jernigan said she and her husband have been friends “forever,” and have co-habitated for the past 13 years.

“He drove a truck for my brother forever,” she said. “One day he said, ‘Why don’t we go to dinner some time.’ I said OK. So we did, and we just fell in love with each other.”

She said her husband, also known as “Peabody” to his truck-driving friends, had been acting a little funny.

“I thought he had had a heat stroke, because he had been out and cut some yards,” she said. “I asked his brothers, ‘Is Peabody acting like himself?’ ”

Others had noticed a problem, too, she said.

By the following Saturday morning, he was really out of it.

“We went to the Andalusia hospital,” she said.

The doctor on call, who was from Montgomery, ordered a CT scan that revealed something more serious: brain tumors.

“He turned around and shipped him right on to Baptist,” she said. “They did some other testing and found it all in his brain, his stomach, and his small and large intestines.”

In Montgomery, they were told that treatment was not an option, and he was sent home last Wednesday.

After the diagnosis, Jernigan asked her to marry him.

“We was going to get married Friday because he wanted to,” she said. “My niece helped us get up the money to have a church wedding.”

The ceremony was planned for 6 p.m., but before the bride could get down the aisle, the groom had a seizure.

“They had told me he would start having seizures,” she said. “Friday was his first seizure.”

Brother Dan Marler was to officiate the ceremony at River of Life Church.

“It was just family there,” she said. “When we got to the ER, his brothers and them was out there waiting. The doctor asked him, ‘Do you still want to get married?’ He said, ‘yea.’

“David said he didn’t care where he was at, he just wanted me to be his wife.”

Mrs. Jernigan said the service was good, and the ceremony was just fine for her. 

Jernigan is a former truck driver who has been on disability for several years.

“We have no insurance for a funeral, or medical money,” she said. “He’s going down quick.”

Health insurance is not available for the terminally ill, she said.

Doctors give him several months to live, but on Monday, home health nurses said they could already see a decline in his condition. 

“He keeps telling me, ‘I really hate to go and leave you by yourself.’ He’s really been a good man. I couldn’t ask for nobody better.”

Mrs. Jernigan said she would like to do some fundraising, but she cannot leave her husband alone. He has an account at Wiregrass Federal Credit Union in his name, Charles David Jernigan, and contributions can be made there.

“I’m going to enjoy every hour I can with him,” she said.

Andalusia Health emergency department Director Amy Herrington said the wedding was a first for the local ER.