What I’ve learned from my recent health ordeal
Being in the hospital was a true wake-up call. It’s crazy how these things happen, but being told I had blood clots in my lung, being confined to the hospital for over a week, not being able to do things on my own—it really changed my perspective. Before, I understood to a degree what people in hospitals go through. But usually I’m the one going to the hospital to cheer people up and hopefully give them some words of encouragement. When the roles were reversed, I was able to experience things from the other side.
During my stay, I wanted nothing more than to do all those little, everyday things, like go for a day without pain, take a shower, go to the restroom without having someone help me to the door. I wanted to move without help and pain and an IV and drainage machine, to have that autonomy.
I really looked forward to having visitors because they gave me some reminder of what I’d been doing before and what was going on outside the hospital walls. Those times when people came to visit were bright spots in my days.
My brother came down from Atlanta, arriving the day after I got the news. And he spent time with me every day I was in the hospital. The only thing we had to do was watch TV—“Family Guy,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “SportsCenter”—and talk. Having his company took my mind off of the reason I was there.
My trainer would stop by over lunchtime each day and we’d eat together. My best friend visited every night for a few hours. They really picked up my spirits with their daily presence. Sometimes, when I wasn’t feeling well, they’d just watch me sleep. Other times, I’d have to take some of my medication and when it kicked in, I’d feel woozy and tired. But they understood and still returned the next day.
Pat Riley came to see me one day and we just sat there and talked for a little while. He shared stories about basketball and other players who had been hurt during his career. He always has a good story to tell.
Spo—Erik Spoelstra—came by too and dropped off some self-motivation and business-related books for me to read since I had more free time on my hands. We both enjoy reading, so it was a really thoughtful gesture and helped me pass the time.
Dwayne Wade stopped by right after Spo and we spent some time together and talked about how quickly things changed. As a good friend and teammate, he understood how much of a bummer it is to not be able to play, and I knew my absence put some more pressure on him too.
It meant a lot that Pat, Spo and Dwayne all came to visit, especially because they came on game days after playing a game the night before. They had every reason to say they were tired and were just going to catch up on rest, but they came anyway to talk to me and check on me.
Seeing my children was pretty tough. I’m usually the invincible one that they can climb on and wrestle with, but I was in a bed and in pain. I didn’t want them to see me like that. Still, I tried my best to let them sit on my lap so I could talk to them and play as much as I could. My son was asking questions, wanting to see the doctor and looking at the numbers on all the machines. My daughter just wanted to play with me.
Throughout my time in the hospital, I urged my wife to go home to the kids because I didn’t want to be a burden, but Adrienne only left my side for a night or so. She was with me every step of the way, and I couldn’t have gone through this experience without her. Having a supportive partner by my side was invaluable. She was always there, making sure everything went well and that I had everything I needed.
My family really reminded me what I was fighting for. They made me want to put on a brave face and show strength. I realized that things weren’t that bad because I still had my kids, my family.
Now, I’m on the mend, thanks to the skill of my doctors and the support of my family, friends, team and fans. I’m committed to visiting people in the hospital in the future because I know how much it meant to me. I’ve come through this experience with a new perspective and a deeper appreciation for the people in my life. It’s made me realize how lucky I am. And for that, I have to be thankful.