Williams strong: band director fights for life


Phillip Wynne

Even though Mr. Williams’ progression has not been not ideal, he lives life to the fullest.

Greg Williams, NC band director, remembers his horrid doctor’s visit like it was yesterday. He went for a heart catheterization, a common procedure, and ended up completely changed.

The doctor accidently dissected his left main artery causing Williams to enter cardiac arrest. He recalls, “The last thing I remember was getting shocked by the paddles.”

He then received a life support system called ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) and spent a total of 16 days in the hospital.

Initially, the doctors did not know how much damage inflicted. Williams explains, “Over time, they hoped my heart would heal and scar tissue would heal in a way for me to have a good recovery. But it hasn’t done that. The scar tissue healed in a way that caused more damage than they thought it would.”

Williams explains his current feelings: “From where I was, in December when it occurred, to today, I feel substantially better. But I don’t have the endurance or the energy that I used to, which is frustrating. Because in my mind, I want to do what I used to do, but then my body says you can’t do that. But, I feel better lately than I have in a long time.”

Mr. Williams loves how the band sounds this year and is going to miss teaching them in the future.
Phillip Wynne
Mr. Williams loves how the band sounds this year and is going to miss teaching them in the future.

Despite the accident occurring during year 29 of teaching, Williams planned on retiring in his 30th year and the question remained whether or not Williams would teach another year at all. When asked about the odds, Williams responded, “I’m going to leave all of my options open, put it that way. I had always thought I’d retire at thirty, but the band is so good right now, and I just enjoy it. So, there’s a strong likelihood that I’ll retire. However, I’m going to keep my options open.”

Williams’ courageous journey just began, but he plans on overcoming all setbacks and wishes to live life to the fullest.

“My message to everyone is, do not take things for granted,” Mr. Williams explained. “I tell everybody this but, look at the trees and see how beautiful the leaves are, look at the sky and notice the clouds that you may have overlooked. Just, take the time to look at the beauty in everything that you may be missing in your day to day life. That’s kinda what I want to convey to people. ‘Cause I missed it. I was missing it until this happened and it kind of opened my eyes. You know, I just look at things differently, and I see a tree, I look at how it’s moving in the wind or I look at the pile of leaves on the one beside it and how beautiful both are, the contrast between those two. Things like that.”