BELTON, Mo. — Mike Miller thinks a lot about why he's still here.
"This year is 45 years now of keeping score at college and high school game events," Miller said showing KSHB 41 News his various plaques, which highlight his career in coaching. "Glad to be around to do it one more year."
Miller is a longtime coach in Belton, involved with youth sports for decades.
He also has his share of health problems, so when he got COVID-19 last winter he thought he wouldn't make it out of the hospital.
"I've had leukemia for seven and a half years," Miller said. "(I'm) 65-years-old. I'm overweight. I was the poster child for, you know, that was me. And why? There's nothing I did to survive it, I just survived it."
He realized he felt seriously sick when he couldn't get out of bed for four days.
Miller said a neighbor noticed the newspapers gathering on his driveway and knew that wasn't normal. His brother called him but he couldn't do anything.
"I could see it was his number and I'm trying to (answer the phone)" Miller said, swiping his finger like you would when answering a cell phone. "I didn't have the strength to even swipe a phone. It was crazy."
Finally, the ambulance came and first-responders took him to Belton Regional Medical Center. He was transferred to Research Medical Center within hours.
Miller will admit he may have been a naysayer, denying that COVID would ever "get him."
"I definitely became a believer when I was in the COVID ward in the hospital," Miller said. "No one to talk to. You had to talk to your nurses, they were your friends."
Miller was in the hospital for 40 days, with many of those days spent in the ICU. He would text his family and friends, letting them know what he wanted for his funeral.
Each time a nurse or doctor would come into his room, Miller thought they were taking him to hook him up to a ventilator, where he was certain he'd die.
"I said, 'God if I'm ready to come home, take me. If not, let's work together and get something done,'" Miller said." So I kind of made a promise that I would try to do something nice all the time."
Miller said even his doctor expected a bad outcome.
"How are you here?" Miller recalled his doctor telling him.
According to the Center for Disease Control, on Sept. 5, the U.S. saw nearly 59,000 new COVID cases, compared to 40,566 new COVID cases at the same time last year.
For new hospital admissions nationwide, the seven-day average on Sept. 5, 2020, was about 3,700. This Sept 5. it was 11,483.
Narrowing it down to the KC region, the Mid-America Regional Council recorded 227 new hospitalizations during the Labor Day weekend, compared to 255 last Labor Day weekend.
"Three months ago, it was quite a chore going down this thing," Miller said.
Miller spent another month on oxygen after being released from the hospital.
He jokes that when he went into the hospital, the KU basketball team was ranked number three in the nation and gas was $1.70 a gallon. When he got out, KU wasn't ranked at all and gas was over $2.50.
"I was only gone 40 days, can't you guys survive out here without me for 40 days!" Miller said.
Miller says he's just now getting back to "normal."
Although many people he knows has gotten the virus and about 10 people he knows have died from it, he wants to tell his story to inspire hope in someone else.
"For somebody in the hospital now that's watching the news, I thought, boy, if you've got this stuff and you're not doing well, just hang in there cause I survived it," Miller said.