KTRS' John Hadley battles health problems
Courtesy St. Louis Post Dispatch
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(April 23, 2010) Sportscaster John Hadley has been in a battle with E. coli, and so far the bacteria has been landing the body blows.

"It may be a 15-round fight, and E. coli has won the first 7 rounds," Hadley said Thursday.

But Hadley, sports director at KTRS (550 AM), is persevering through it and related ailments that began affecting him in February when he was in Florida to cover spring training. He was on the air Thursday to contribute to the station's NFL draft and other sports coverage, but is far from recovered. He said he now also has prostatitis as well as bladder and related problems.

"It's painful at times,'' he said.

Hadley said he was hospitalized in Florida for eight days after becoming ill, and later had another stay of one day. The first time he went in he had a temperature of 103.7 degrees, and it was determined his white blood cell count was extremely high. He underwent tests that showed he had E. coli, pneumonia and that several of his organs were infected. And he received a stern message from a doctor: "If we don't contain this thing and it spreads into your bloodstream, it can kill you."

"It was a mess," Hadley said. "For the first three weeks it was really tough. Then I started feeling better, but the infection came back and I've had to deal with it since. I'm not getting rid of the infection, but every week that passes I feel a little better. But I'm still nowhere near normal.''

His doctor told him Thursday to go on antibiotics again.

"There are certain things that were going bad that are improving, but the bad news is I still haven't gotten rid of the E. coli," he said. "It's not spreading, that's good. I'm just not rid of it, which means it's probably stuck in the prostate. It's very hard to get rid of an infection in the prostate."

Hadley, 48, said his lack of energy is extremely frustrating.

"It saps you of all your strength,'' he said. "You walk around constantly fatigued. When you want to go see a movie and you have to press yourself to get the energy to do it, that's pretty pathetic.''

Colleague John Marecek said Hadley has been pushing himself and had to be talked out of trying to go on the air shortly after being released from the hospital.

"He just looked very weak, like he had been through hell,'' Marecek said. "He wanted to hop on the air; we were like 'No. Chill out; we've got it all taken care of.'

"The biggest concern we had was that he took care of himself. We had the on-air stuff taken care of. None of us wanted him putting himself in extra danger; that's serious stuff. Health is more important than any radio show.''

There is another twist. Hadley said he fell a short time before the E. coli flare-up, resulting in two protruding discs in his upper back and a shoulder impingement. He said he has been too weak to undergo therapy, but hopes he can do so soon and avoid surgery.

"It wasn't a real fun winter,'' he said. "As I told my wife, I'm no longer a player, I'm an alumnus. I can no longer act tough.''

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