Four weeks ago, he was a young, healthy, father of four. Now, a Middle Tennessee man can barely get out of his hospital bed.
Thirty-two-year-old James Bradley is battling H1N1, one of the most severe strains of the flu.
“I never saw it coming. I thought I was indestructible. 32, I thought I was in my prime, nothing wrong with me, pretty healthy guy,” he told News 2 from his Vanderbilt hospital bed.
In mid-February, he says he began having body aches. He was diagnosed with pneumonia at a walk-in clinic, but his condition quickly took a turn for the worse. As he struggled to breathe he was taken to the ER.
“That’s when his oxygen dropped to 40 and they had to intubate him. They weren’t able to get up on the vent there, they bagged him for six hours and then got us here,” his wife Alex Bradley explained.
She has been by his side as he’s been in critical care at Vanderbilt for nearly a month, fighting for his life.
“A week ago, I heard his voice for the first time again,” Alex said with tears in her eyes.
Doctors put James on a ventilator and later an ECMO machine and as his kidneys begin to fail, he was put on dialysis and given a tracheotomy.
“He’s 1,000 times better than he was,” said Alex.
In the past few days, he says doctors were able to remove the ventilator. He was able to eat food and even walk down the hallway.
He says he was inspired by his four children.
“That’s what makes me walk. That’s what makes me walk down the hallway. I pretend I’m walking out of the truck to the basketball goal and slam dunkin’ and making all of them laugh. I think about it every day.”
For now, their homemade cards hanging on the wall get him through some of the pain, while he hopes sharing his story will keep others from going through his heartache. He admits he did not get a flu shot.
“You’re not indestructible, you’re not Hulk, you’re not Superman. Get the flu shot,” he stated.
A Gofundme has been set up to help the family as he doesn’t have health insurance.
The Metro Public Health Department is still offering free flu shots until around the end of April.