By Chris Bavender
It’s been a year of waiting and praying for this day to come. The day Sgt. Dan Boutwell was able to return to work at the Whitestown Police Dept. after suddenly falling ill in May 2016 with Guillain-Barre syndrome following a blood infection.
Guillain-Barre is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. Weakness and tingling in the extremities are usually the first symptoms, which can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing the entire body.
“I have waited and prayed for this time to come. God, my wife, the people of this department and the community helped pull me through the days when the lights were dim on my recovery,” Boutwell said. “I was so excited the day before I returned to work that I could not sleep or think of anything else. This disease was by far the scariest thing I have ever had happen to me or anyone I know. The pain and fear of not knowing what was going to happen to me was unbearable.”
For now, Boutwell is on light duty while he continues to regain his strength. He isn’t sure when he will be back in full uniform.
“It could be several months. I need to prove to myself that I am 100 percent and to not risk my safety and that of my officers,” he said. “I’m very eager to get back in uniform and get back out with the people I have sworn to serve and protect, many of whom have become close friends over the past 23 years.”
Boutwell said he always planned to return to work. His first day back was May 8.
“When this disease originally hit me and I woke up not being able to move, I was scared to death. I didn’t know how I was going to support my family or even if I was going to live,” he said. “But once the treatments started working and I was able to move my hands, never once did I consider not coming back to work. I was going to fight with all my strength.”
The past year has taught him to “never stop fighting.”
“You are a warrior or you would not be in this job,” he said. “It was going to be hard. I had days when I took one step and was so tired that I just wanted to sit in my wheelchair and look out the window, but you have to continue to give it your all.
“Having a chief like Dennis Anderson, who never gave up on me and visited me once a week no matter what he had going on, helped a lot. His faith in the Lord and in me showed me I had to keep going, and that’s why I’m back over a year earlier than the doctors predicted.”