After Tremendous Loss, Hometown Hero Inspires Others

By Melanie Chapman |

Published 02/26 2014 07:39PM

Updated 02/26 2014 07:41PM

NORWOOD, Mo. -- Seeing images and describing them is a big accomplishment for 60-year-old Nancy Littrell, woman who lived an active life with her husband, David, of nearly four decades.

“My husband and I loved traveling,” says Nancy. “We loved hiking, camping, four wheeling, jeeping, crusing, you know, we just had a lot of fun.”

But on their way to a camping trip in 2011 their lives came to a crashing standstill.

“In 2011 my husband and I were in a car accident,” says Nancy. “He was killed and I was left very seriously damaged.”

Nancy was left with a traumatic brain injury and was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Springfield.

When she came out of unconsciousness, she couldn't swallow, talk or walk and couldn’t' convey how she felt.

“I knew I was in the hospital and I knew something was very wrong because my husband was not at my side,” says Nancy.

The reality quickly set in and so did her determination to get her independence back.

“I’m not staying in this place in my body,” says Nancy. “I will work as hard as I can, as long as I can, to get as much as I can from my body.”

One of the first things Nancy saw when she came into the rehabilitation gym was a car. She hated it, but it turned out to be a crucial part of her recovery.

“I am one tough broad,” says Nancy. “But I have a tougher God.”

That became her motto.

Her faith, family, friends and the hospital staff were her support during her time in rehabilitation. She learned to talk, walk and drive again. She also learned to laugh

“Its a great feeling to see that someone has come so far and can regain that skill again and that independence,” says Mindy Smithwick, a Mercy occupational therapist.

Now, Nancy uses her regained speaking skills to inspire others. She encourages survivors who find themselves in this same situation to never give up.

“It’s rough,” says Nancy. “Your pain is yours and it reals… I’m no one special, but I want to be an encouragement enough for others to say go for it. Try and don't give up.”

And if David could see Nancy on the road to recovery?

“He would hug me and say keep it up,” says Nancy. “Try your hardest to keep it up.”

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