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McAlester Man Hopeful One Year After Contracting Crippling Case Of West Nile

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Hal Dalton still has to use a wheelchair and he can't see out of his left eye, but through therapy, he's making progress. Hal Dalton still has to use a wheelchair and he can't see out of his left eye, but through therapy, he's making progress.
Hal's wife, Debbie, has been by his side every step of the way, picking up where her husband left off. Hal's wife, Debbie, has been by his side every step of the way, picking up where her husband left off.
McALESTER, Oklahoma -

Last year, a mosquito bite robbed a McAlester man of his ability to walk last year. We first spoke to Hal Dalton last August, six weeks after he was diagnosed with the West Nile Virus.

Hal Dalton remembers the day - June 5, 2012 - but he doesn't remember the bite.

"You don't feel the bite of a West Nile mosquito," Hal said.

What he does feel, are the crippling effects the bite left behind.

8/17/2012 Related Story: McAlester West Nile Victim Warns Of Severity Of Virus

"It's unreal, that mosquito is probably like a thread and he's that potent that he could just knock you down," he said.

For Hal, a mosquito did more than just knock him down. It started with what he thought was the flu, but progressed so quickly, within just a few days he could no longer walk.

"They put me in bed, wake up the next morning and I can't move. I'm blind, I was totally blind for six or seven weeks," he said.

Hal still has to use a wheelchair and he can't see out of his left eye, but through therapy, he's making progress.

For months, Hal's been coming to the pool at McAlester's Wellness Center for water therapy. It's there that he's made his greatest breakthrough.

"His third visit, he was actually able to move his legs and walk--with a noodle under him holding him up, but he could move his legs and walk," said his wife, Debbie Dalton.

Debbie has been by his side every step of the way, picking up where her husband left off.

"The worst part that I go through is sitting out there in my wheelchair and watching my wife mow the yard, edge, weed eat, and I can't help her. That hurts more than the mosquito, believe me," Hal said.

But instead of focusing on the pain, Hal uses his sense of humor to soothe the sadness.

"Only one percent of West Nile victims have what I had. Just one percent," he said. "And we was saying, why couldn't it have been the lotto?"

It's through laughter that Hal said he finds hope and the determination to say he will walk again.

"I can do almost anything I want to, except I can't get these wheels working. But they will, they'll work."

And when that day comes, it will be better than winning the lottery.

Hal never lost feeling in his legs and doctors tell him, because he is able to move his legs a little, it means his brain is still communicating with those nerves.

He said doctors are still learning about the West Nile Virus, but tell him it's a multi-year recovery process, which means he still has plenty of time to regain the strength he needs to walk.

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