Effingham radio deejay doesnʼt let a broken femur keep her down.
Gayle Willison is not one to let injury or illness keep her down for long.
The vibrant, fun-loving Effingham radio deejay is grateful to Orthopedic Surgeon Timothy Gray, MD, of the Sarah Bush Lincoln Bonutti Clinic, for getting her back on the air in record time after breaking her femur in December 2019.
Gayle made light of the way the injury occurred. “I don’t have normal things happen to me. It was Friday the 13th and I went back to use the paper cutter in the back of the station, and I tripped over a chair and went airborne,” she said. “I bounced off the floor twice and broke my femur. I actually heard it crack.”
After hearing Gayle yell for help, the station’s news director rushed to Gayle’s side and then called 911. Gayle was taken to the Emergency Department by ambulance where X-rays confirmed that she had suffered a fracture in the upper quarter of her left thigh bone near the hip joint. Though Gayle was in a tremendous pain, she knew instantly that she was going to be okay when she learned that Dr. Gray was going to be her surgeon.
Dr. Gray had made a big impression on Gayle years prior when he had diagnosed her son with Osgood Schlatter disease, a common cause of knee pain in growing children. “Dr. Gray really listens and he explains things well,” Gayle said. “And he’s very personable. He’s a hoot! He’s so much fun.”
Gayle underwent emergency surgery to repair the fracture. Dr. Gray stabilized her broken bone with a gamma nail, a device designed to fix femoral fractures, plus three screws.
“I could tell as soon as I woke up that everything was back in place,” Gayle said. “He did such a fantastic job. You would expect me to have a big incision, but I just have three little, bitty incisions. You can barely see them now.”
Following surgery, Gayle pushed herself to return to life as normal. She spent one week in a rehabilitation facility so she could manage living on her own. She was told she would need a walker for six weeks, but she ditched it nearly three weeks early and sent her adult daughter to the store for a quad cane. The next day, Gayle was walking around her house without any assistance.
“I have two dogs at home that I take care of, and I don’t like being down,” she said. Determined to make a quick comeback, Gayle was back to work and on the air after just five weeks. “I heal very quickly, and I have a really good doctor. I had a lot of people praying for me, as well, and that, no doubt, was a big plus.”
Gayle praised Dr. Gray on the air as soon as she returned to the 95.7 WCRC morning show. He happened to be listening at the time and was so moved by her kind words that he made a trip to the station to repay her thoughtfulness. “Dr. Gray came in and he gave me a big hug. That meant a lot to me. I think the world of him,” Gayle said.
Life hasn’t always been easy for the 64-year-old mother and grandmother, and she isn’t shy about sharing her many trials and tribulations. “I’m very open on the air about my life. I think that’s why so many people relate to me,” she said. “I had polio when I was a toddler, so my bones, my muscles and my tendons are not good. I’ve had so many broken bones and I’ve had some experiences with orthopedic injuries and surgeries— both good and bad— and that’s why I can say what an amazing surgeon Dr. Gray is.”
Gayle feels blessed to be able to share her stories and talk to people on the radio. She became a deejay later in life after winning a radio contest that led to an invitation to audition for a job. As a lifelong lover of country music, she jumped at the opportunity and landed her first job as a radio announcer in 2002. “I love it and I love everyone at the station. I’m the station ‘mom’ since I’m the oldest person there, and I have lots of station ‘children,’” she said.
Gayle’s family and listeners love her spunk and her signature purple hair, which she dyed to honor cancer survivors and support the station’s main charitable event: Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s primary fundraiser. She hopes to stay injury-free so she can continue enjoying life and doing fun activities with her six granddaughters, two grandsons, and great-granddaughter.
To make an appointment with Dr. Gray, call the SBL Bonutti Clinic at 217 342-3400.