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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Bullpen contender gets relief after scare
The Rays' Shawn Camp said he felt "helpless" as his wife fought for her life after losing a baby.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published March 31, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - There are times when Shawn Camp, awake in the middle of the night, just stares at his wife.
Heidi is home now, safe and healing. And when Shawn watches her sleep, listens to her breathe, he said he thinks, "God, it's amazing how much fight she has in her."
It is a spirit Shawn said he is trying to tap as he fights for a spot in the Devil Rays bullpen. Shawn said his wife of six months is never out of his thoughts. But what a relief to go to work feeling blessed instead of dread.
As he said of the scariest day of his life, "I thought I was losing her."
This is not a story Shawn asked to tell. Heidi is private, he said, and he does not want to seem as if he's looking for sympathy while Tampa Bay chooses its 25-man roster.
But when asked about it Thursday, the details of a two-week ordeal that began March 14 tumbled out.
About Heidi's surgery after her two-month pregnancy ended with a burst fallopian tube. About how the blood clot in her lungs caused her to stop breathing until resuscitated by doctors.
About the two blood clots in her abdomen that also required surgery and the root canal, of all things, that finally reduced her 102-degree fever.
"You're trying to fight this with her, and you're just helpless," Camp said while sitting in the Rays dugout at Tropicana Field.
"It's the worst feeling, especially when it's your wife."
The previous few months were ones of change for Shawn, 30, and Heidi, 24.
Shawn was dropped from the Royals' 40-man roster but signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay.
With no job guarantee, every practice, every outing, every pitch would be crucial. He said he was at the ballpark when Heidi, with intense stomach pain, called paramedics from their St. Petersburg home and was taken to Bayfront Medical Center.
Shawn said Heidi was in surgery 30 minutes later, her pregnancy lost. He said the clot, formed by the bleeding, moved the next day into her lungs. That was the day, Shawn recalled, "I almost lost my wife."
Shawn said everything seemed fine as he and Heidi's mom, Melanie, sat in the recovery room while Heidi slept.
"Then all of a sudden, she coded," Shawn said. "They call it a Code Blue. She wasn't breathing normally. She wasn't catching air. Her lips started to turn blue, white in the face. We're running down the hallway trying to grab whoever we could, and we couldn't find anybody.
"Then here they come running, "Code Blue, Code Blue.' I'm in the room thinking, "This is like a reality show. This is so fictional. I never thought my wife would be going through this.' She didn't come conscious for 15 or 20 minutes."
Shawn said the clot stopped Heidi from breathing. She could not yell because she was sedated.
"The doctors told us," Shawn said, "it could have taken a turn for the worse."
But there was more. Shawn said Heidi needed additional surgery to relieve two more clots in her abdomen, and he was the one who rolled her into the operating room.
"I don't want to say I have nightmares," Shawn said. "But sometimes I'll just be sitting there and see those moments."
Shawn, who said he and Heidi will again try to have a baby, praised Heidi's doctors, David Dresdner and Steven Epstein. He said team physician Mike Reilly visited often and head trainer Ron Porterfield always had answers to questions.
He said Melanie and Heidi's dad, Dave, were rocks of support, and he lauded teammates and the Rays organization. He said they sent flowers. Players' wives and girlfriends called with best wishes.
"If you have any understanding of family, you understand helping each other out," catcher Toby Hall said.
"This guy is trying to make a team and is going through a serious family matter. You try to put yourself in his shoes."
The Rays gave Shawn two days off when Heidi went into the hospital and another for her first day out of bed. He left Monday after Heidi called to say she was home. The next day, Heidi had the root canal.
Maddon said accommodating Shawn was easy: "His wife comes first. I said, "Don't give it a second thought. Don't worry.' I was impressed with how he handled everything."
And he has pitched well. The right-hander and native of Fairfax, Va., is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA, six strikeouts and one walk in 102/3 innings.
"The support I've had here is huge," Shawn said. "It has helped my sanity. It has helped me function on the baseball field.
"(Heidi) told me, "For every dark night, there are brighter days.' I'm getting a second wind in baseball, but having my wife almost leave me, it puts things in perspective.
"I know in life there are no certainties. When you get an opportunity, you have to make the most of it."