Florence firefighter back to work after yearlong illness recuper - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Florence firefighter back to work after yearlong illness recuperation

Kevin Darby (Source: WAFF) Kevin Darby (Source: WAFF)
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

A Florence firefighter is back in control of the big red truck after nearly a year. Kevin Darby's body waged a near-death battle with complications from the flu.

"It just got worse, progressively worse, and it was happening fast," Darby said.

Darby spent the entire month of February 2017 in a hospital bed fighting to stay alive with what started with the flu. He fought off double pneumonia, sepsis, strep throat and kidney failure. Darby lost 46 pounds and he had to relearn a lot of things others take for granted, like walking. It's not a battle you expect to fight when you get the flu.

"I was just not going to accept not coming back to work. This is what I do. This is a lifestyle," Darby said.

[READ MORE: Florence firefighter gets welcome homecoming after month in hospital]

Now he's finally back doing what he loves.

"I thought it would be a little different if you forget some things, but it just comes right back when you get back in there," Darby said about getting behind the wheel of the fire truck.

It was a total of 363 days since his last shift.

"There were times that I didn't know I'd ever come back and there were times when I thought I would be back sooner," Darby said.

He spent months in physical therapy regaining his strength.

A major motivation was his brothers at the fire station.

"It's like being away from your family for a year," Darby said. "We generally do sit around this table and talk in the morning."

They were there for him at the weakest time of his life when he needed them most.

"And it's true in the fire service," Darby said. "I wouldn't have made it through without all these guys. They were all there for me when we needed them and they did a whole lot of things for us and people really have no idea."

Now he can start saving lives again and enjoying every minute of it.

"Did you get that? I jumped a curb, baby," he said.

This is Darby's 12th year serving the Florence Fire Department.

The doctors told Darby that he might have long term effects in his lungs from scar tissue and that he shouldn't take antibiotics unless he really has to.

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