First to give you a little background....
It was August 2002 and I had just wrapped up my summer by coaching my summer league high school team to the state title. It was an exciting summer and my first year as a coach. I had met a beautiful girl who I immediately fell head over heels for and started to date. It was a very busy and extremely stressful summer. We had spent 3 weeks in hotels playing ball and in the state tournament we had to defeat all odds by winning 5 games in 3 days and ultimately beat a Tupelo team with 5 future Division 1 players who we had not come close to beating all summer. And we had to beat them twice in one night! I never thought my kids would win it all because we had everything go against us. We had gone from 20 kids to 11 and if any of you know about baseball then you know it is hard to play competitive ball with only 11 kids and in a tournament day after day none the less. After we won the title game, there were some words exchanged by one of fans and the Tupelo coach that led to an all out fight on the field that was on every news channel in MS. Talk about going from one extreme to another...... Here I was 25 years old and I felt like I was 50 with all the stress of coaching, school, work and personal life.
Six years ago, on a Saturday night, I was at the races here in Columbus watching one of my friends get ready to race his open wheel modified race car. Earlier that day I had gone to a friends house to visit and hang out with their kids. While playing with them, I noticed a rash on my upper thigh. My friends wife noticed it and said it looked like Shingles. I decided to go to my local doctor and let him take a look at it. He said he didn't think it was shingles but maybe just an allergic reaction of some kind. He gave me some antibiotics and sent me on my way. So, back to the races. While I was there, I started to feel sick and got real tired. A friend of mine noticed that I had some whelps on the back of my neck and I felt of them and then decided to just go home.
I got home and took at look at my body and it was pretty red and the rash had started to grow across my body. I took a hot bath with Epsom salt in it and then went to bed. Around 1:00 that morning I woke up and couldn't breathe very well and couldn't see much at all. I made my way towards the bathroom and looked in the mirror and it was horrible. My face was twice the normal size and my eyes were almost completely swollen shut as well as my throat. If you have ever seen any of the Rocky movies then imagine Rocky's face after a fight and triple that. It was that bad. I woke my mom up and we took off the the emergency room. I'm sure many of you have experienced the emergency room and sitting there for hours waiting to see someone. Well, as soon as we walked in the nurse grabbed me and rushed me to the back. They took some vitals and gave me an IV drip and we waited to see the doc. The doctor admitted me to the hospital for test and observation. For the next 4 1/2 days, i spent the time in the Baptist hospital getting tests done to determine what happened. My entire body from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet were covered in huge whelps and rashes. I had skin doctors, brain doctors, cancer doctors and many other people coming in to see if they could figure it out. No one knew what happened. Well, slowly but surely the meds started to help and the whelps and rash started to disappear but still no sign as to what caused it.
On Wednesday night, my friend Jep Cole came by to spend the night with me and give my parents a rest. We ate supper from Peppers and we were watching the Little League World Series. A little after supper I told Jep my stomach felt really tight and bloated and it was unlike just having indigestion. Jep also said it looked as if I was pregnant. (I know, go ahead and insert smart comment here.) He called for the doctor and they decided to do another CT Scan and found nothing. The doctor then decided it had become too much out of his field and made a request to transfer me to UAB in Birmingham. They called but there were no rooms available and I was put on a waiting list. We went on to bed with plans to go to Bham by car with my mom the next afternoon.
The next morning came and I felt better than I did since the whole episode began. I was up and walking around and just getting ready to head out to Bham later. Several friends and some of my ball players had come to visit. My grandmother was there as well. Earlier that morning we still had not received a room at UAB and we desperately needed one so I could have all the tests done. Now here is where it all went wrong......
I was sitting in the chair in my hospital room and talking on the phone to a friends wife. She was asking about info on the situation. I remember saying goodbye and hanging up the phone. I stood up out of the chair and when I did it felt like I had been shot in the back of the head. The most excruciating pain that I cannot begin to describe. Imagine a migraine times 1000! I told Jep something wasn't right and I couldn't breathe and was in pain. He ran to the nurse's station and they came running. They tried to calm me down and took my blood pressure. I will never forget the look in my mothers eyes when that machine beeped. She looked as if she had seen someone killed. I knew then it wasn't good. Now I don't remember exactly what it was but it was in the neighborhood of 220/130 I believe. They immediately gave me meds to calm me and called for the doctors. They rushed me to have a CT scan done and found that my lungs had started filling with fluid. I was having trouble breathing and they placed me on oxygen. Dr. Waller made the decision to transfer me via ambulance to UAB and immediately we went on our way. While they were taking me out I remember seeing all my family, friends and players standing out in the hallway telling me to hang in there. I don't remember much from this point on except that I couldn't breathe hardly at all and the paramedic kept placing the mask on my face and it was forcing air in and out my lungs and it was very uncomfortable. I was really scared. I guess I kept going in and out cause I don't remember the ride at all and the last thing I can remember is laying on a cold table in UAB with my brother at my side. There were several nurses and doctors working on me and sticking me with needles, IV's, catheters and such. I kept fighting them because I was so panicked and scared and I don't know how they handled me because I called them every name in the book. The very last thing I do remember is looking at my brother and him giving me an odd look and while I kept fighting the nurses and doctors at one point the doctor grabbed my head and forced it onto the table and they tied my hands down to the bed. He looked from above me and said "Mr. Haines, if you do not cooperate with us, you are about to die!" I stopped and that is all I remember.
They intubated me and put me on a breathing machine. I was out. The only thing keeping me alive was that machine. I was placed in the CCU and they informed my family that the situation looked bad. My mother said that the doctor came in and told her "If there is anyone who needs to be here then you need to get them here tonight. We don't know if he will make it through the night." How hard that must have been on her. From the stories I have been told, word spread around Columbus and prayers were being sent up from everywhere. Several of my friends left out of Columbus around midnight to make the trip. There must have been 30 or 40 people in that waiting room waiting and waiting and waiting. Every hour that went by it didn't look any better. In the early hours of the morning my mom, brother, my pastor (Bro. Mick), my Aunt Brenda circled my bed and held hands to pray. My mom tells my Bro. Mick led a desperation prayer asking for a miracle. More hours passed and by morning the doctors said that it was looking slowly better. My tests were showing better results but there was still a long way to go. Somewhere after lunch, my brother made my mom go with him to grab a Subway sandwich. While they were gone the phone rang in the waiting room and my aunt Brenda answered. They wanted my mom to come up immediately. My aunt said she felt as if it was not a good thing. She ran to get my mother and they took off to the elevator. When they reached my floor and walked into the CCU unit, my doctor was there and said they needed her to sign some papers. My mom said "Ok". Then he said, "But first, would you like to see your son?". They thought at first that maybe it wasnt good news. It was not visiting time but they of course said they would like to go and see me.
They made their way around the corner and to my room. When they reached the room they pulled the curtain to my room open to enter and when they did they saw me sitting up in the bed staring at them. My aunt said my mothers reaction was priceless. She jumped onto the bed and hugged me for what probably was hours. They were shocked. How did it go from so bad just hours earlier where they called the family into the room you dont want to be in to hours later I am awake, sitting in my bed and breathing on my own? They asked me how I was feeling and they tell me I said "I want a hamburger!"
The news spread quickly and all my friends and family came up to the room. The doctors and nurses allowed everyone in. That's the first thing I remember. Sitting there looking at them and them looking at me. I remember saying "What in the heck are all you guys here for?" That's when they told me what happened. I didn't know what to think. Well to make this extremely long story short, I was later moved into a regular room and spent another week at UAB having tests done by every specialist they could find. One night while I was sitting in my room, my doctor walked in and wanted to speak with me. He looked me in the eyes and said "Brad, I don't know what happened and I can't explain it. We did nothing medically to save you. We thought you were gone." After our talk I spent all night awake and talking to God. I always believed in God and was a Christian but God had never revealed himself to me and what he did those long 3 days was a miracle. I have no doubts about that at all. I always wondered why God saved me that night. What is his plans for me? Well, 6 years later I sit here somewhat healthy and married to that beautiful woman I had just met before that happened. We have a beautiful 2 year old daughter named Marlee Grace who is my angel and reminds me everyday why God worked a miracle in my life in that hospital 6 years ago. Im still searching for God's plan for me. Maybe he has revealed it and I am not listening. Im not sure. I can say that I haven't taken full advantage of my second chance. I long to know him more but I kept getting myself in the way. Maybe I should get out of the way and just let God work.
I'm sorry it was so long but I wanted to go into detail about it. I hope you enjoyed it and may God touch your life like he did for me. If you don't get anything out of my story then please get this: God is real and he is powerful! He works miracles everyday and so many of us just go through our ordinary little lives and so many of us don't make the time to spend with him as we should. I am so guilty of that. God deserves our ultimate devotion and love.