A high school football coach from California lost both of his legs and a hand after undergoing what should have been a routine procedure — but he is still preaching positivity to his players and community.
“I’m vulnerable for the first time in my life,” Bradshaw Christian High School assistant football coach Casey Cagle told KTXL. “I walked into that hospital at 6-foot-5-and-a-half, you know, 261 lbs. I came out at 4-foot-6 and 191 lbs. And you realize at that point how fast things can change.”
The 49-year-old’s life forever changed in May when he went in for a heart procedure that was only scheduled to last four hours. The hospital stay would last nearly three months after Cagle suffered serious complications that compelled doctors to amputate both of his legs, his left hand and some of his fingers to save his life.
“For the boys, dealing with losing a coach would be difficult,” said the school’s athletic director, Kurt Takahashi. “So, we all braced ourselves for it and then it comes out as a miracle.”
Running back Jeremiah Bonner said his coach’s hospitalization dramatically affected the team.
“It was really like shadowy gray around,” he said. “Nobody really had the energy to go practice. It made things a little harder.”
Despite the dramatic change in his life, the humorous coach is still striving to make people smile, Cagle tells the news station.
“You realize one digit can do a lot for you,” Cagle told KTXL while holding up his remaining little finger. “Every time we score now, the kids put a pinky up. Whoever scored run over and I get my hug out of it.”
He is also doing his best to hold on to independence, his brother, Michael Cagle, said.
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“He cooks, he does laundry, he cleans his house. I mean, he really enjoys being independent,” Michael said. “If anything, we are through the hard part now and things will continue to get better as we go.”
Through it all, Cagle is doing his best to put what he lost behind him, and focus on what he still has.
“You realize you’ve got to be the same person you were. I can’t bring them down and I can’t bring myself down or else it’s going to be a long life,” Cagle told the news station. “I’d rather go about this the way I used to. It makes me feel like I am still the person I used to be.”