With the holiday season fast approaching, how about a little Christmas cheer to end the year?
In early November cornerback D.J. Hayden collided with a Houston teammate and tore the inferior vena cava, the major vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. The injury, normally associated with high-speed vehicle crashes, carries a 95-percent fatality rate. Thanks to “the quick action of UH training staff and hospital personnel,” it wasn’t fatal in Hayden’s case.
Following emergency surgery to repair the damage and a week-long hospital stay to begin what was expected to be a lengthy rehab process, Hayden was released. Six weeks later, Hayden is progressing more rapidly than expected as he was cleared Friday, FOX26 in Houston reports, to begin light workouts.
While working on a stationary bike and the elliptical machine might not seem like a lot, it was a significant step in the player’s recovery.
“It definitely is one of the biggest days of my life,” Hayden told the television station. “It meant a lot to me because I’ve been in the house watching everybody else work out and I’ve been itching to do something because I really can’t sit still.
“It meant that I’m healing and getting better.”
While it took some time for him to come to grips with how close to death he actually came — “I was crying. I was just thanking God.” — Hayden doesn’t consider it a miracle that he survived such a devastating injury.
“People remind me every day that I’m a miracle, I’m a miracle. I don’t feel like I’m a miracle.,” Hayden said. “I’m just regular, silly D.J., but yea I do have some who believe I’m somewhat of a miracle. At the end of the day it happened, people can learn from it, get inspired by it and I’m here and we’re still breathing.”
The station writes that “Hayden hopes to begin backpedaling drills in two weeks… [and] should be completely recovered in six months and ready for football activities at some point during the summer.”
Despite how the injury took place, Hayden’s goal remains the same: playing in the NFL. Seeing how he’s fought back against these long odds, I’m not betting against him.