Dr. William Waugh is a practicing ophthalmologist in Olympia again after recently joining the west Olympia office of Eye M.D.s of Puget Sound.
Waugh works Tuesdays and Thursdays at the office, which was opened four years ago by Dr. Francis Geissler, who also has an Eye M.D.s of Puget Sound office in Tacoma.
Waugh can walk, stand up, sit down, and move his arms and legs, fingers and toes. In short, he can do all the things that most of take for granted.
But nine years ago that was not the case after Waugh fell at home while observing some construction work that was about to get underway on his property.
And he fell far enough — 14 feet off a wall — that he broke his neck, an injury similar to the one that paralyzed Superman actor Christopher Reeve.
The man who performed CPR on him that day — anywhere from 25 minutes to 45 minutes of CPR — was Bob Murphy of Tenino, an area handyman who had just laid out the materials to build a deck when Waugh fell.
Asked if he had stayed in touch with Murphy, Waugh replied, “Are you kidding me? He’s one of my heroes, for sure.”
Murphy said Monday that they have remained good friends.
Murphy kept him alive, and then Waugh was transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and then Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup where he would begin to confront life, paralyzed from the neck down. Except there was one difference: Waugh could move the big toe on his left foot, which he used to trigger a button to call the nurse.
From there, Waugh said he exploited whatever movement he could muster, fighting through the pain and trying to keep a positive attitude. To stay motivated, he recalled the punishing play that was dished out when he played one year of football for Wright State University.
“The body has an innate ability to heal itself,” Waugh said.
In time, he learned to move his arms, stand and then walk, but it would take two-and-a-half years before he could set foot in a car and drive.
He eventually returned to work, but began slowly, first filling in for doctors on leave before finding more permanent work in the Bellevue area.
Throughout all of this, he had kept his home in Olympia.
Waugh, originally from Michigan, previously worked in southern Minnesota, but eventually wanted a change of pace from the extreme winters and summers of Minnesota. He came to Olympia in 2002. Geissler met Waugh before his accident and they struck up a friendship and stayed in touch, he said.
After working in Bellevue, Waugh wanted out of the city and contacted Geissler. Geissler welcomed him aboard, saying from a business point of view that Waugh was a well-known and established practitioner.
“He’s a great guy to have around the office,” Geissler said.
DR. WILLIAM WAUGH, OPHTHALMOLOGIST
Location: Eye M.D.s of Puget Sound Olympia office, 2401 Bristol Ct. SW, B-101. Waugh works with Dr. Francis Geissler, who opened the Olympia office four years ago. Geissler also has an office in Tacoma.
Online: eyemds pugetsound.com
History: Waugh became a doctor of osteopathic medicine in 1972 and an ophthalmologist in 1977.
Did you know? Waugh, originally from Michigan, worked as an ophthalmologist in southern Minnesota before coming to Olympia in 2002.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403