'I'm not supposed to be here': Remembering and recovery two years after the congressional baseball shooting

Matt Mika, far right, and Zack Barth, orange shirt, who were wounded in the GOP baseball practice shooting last year, hug US Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, during the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on June 14, 2018. Bailey and Griner helped neutralize the shooter in 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(CNN)Two years after a gunman nearly killed him, Matt Mika's ribs hurt when the weather gets too hot or cold. Some of his fingers feel swollen all the time, and the nerves are still growing back in his left hand.

Mika, who was shot at a Republican congressional baseball practice two years ago Friday, has made a full recovery, but says his life is forever changed by the event.
"There's a close bond between everyone who was on the field that day, from members of Congress to staff, that no one can ever understand or break," Mika told CNN in a recent interview.
On June 14, 2017, a man who posted online about hating conservatives and President Donald Trump fired a semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic handgun at Republican lawmakers, staff and coaches practicing for an upcoming charity baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. The shooter fired at least 70 rounds before he was killed.
    Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was gravely wounded, and his determined recovery has been widely reported on, but for the four others who were struck by bullets and shrapnel, their road to recovery has been largely out of the spotlight in the years since the attack.
    Mika, a lobbyist, nearly bled to death from bullet wounds to his chest, millimeters from his heart, and his left arm. Zack Barth, who works for Texas Rep. Roger Williams, was shot in the leg. Crystal Griner and David Bailey, both Capitol Police officers who returned fire on the shooter, were wounded -- Griner was shot in the ankle, and shrapnel hit Bailey.
    Griner and Bailey, who were on Scalise's protective detail, have been hailed as heroes for their actions that day.
    Capitol Police officials declined to make the officers available for interviews, but Mika and Barth described their paths to recovery in interviews with CNN, giving a picture of long-term impacts of the shooting and the lessons they have learned. While their stories are different, both agreed that the violence that day showed the need for a return to civility and respect in politics.
    "Hopefully people will learn the lesson from that day, but I'm afraid that they won't," Barth said.
    White House awards for Officers, July 2017. Pictured from left: Special Agent Crystal Griner, Matt Mika, Special Agent David Bailey. Photo provided by Matt Mika
    In the days leading up to the two-year anniversary, Scalise tweeted his gratitude to the Capitol Police officers.
    "I think about the heroes when I think about June 14, 2017. This morning, I was honored to welcome one of those heroes—Special Agent Crystal Griner—back to the field at our #CongressionalBaseballGame practice. We'll forever be grateful for the courageous action of Capitol Police," Scalise tweeted Wednesday.
    This year's congressional baseball game with be held on June 26.

    'Everyone who saw me that day thought I was going to die'

    Mika, a lobbyist who works at Tyson Foods, said his wounds were so serious that "I'm not supposed to be here."
    "You don't suffer that type of chest wound and make it," he said.
    The first bullet went through his right side under his arm and came out through his chest, missing his heart by less than half an inch. The second bullet hit his left arm when he was lying on the ground by the SUV that Bailey and Griner were using to take cover and return fire. The shot severed a nerve.
    Mika suffered a collapsed lung and several broken ribs. He spent the next 10 days in the hospital and about a year in physical therapy.
    "Everyone who saw me that day thought I was going to die," Mika said.
    Mika, 40, is a volunteer coach who plays on several sports teams in his free time. He threw himself into physical therapy to get back into sports and find what he calls his "new normal."
    "Sports is kind of why this all happened because we were playing baseball, but it's also something to look forward to and a way to move on and get better," Mika said.
    Mika helped start and is the head of a DC chapter of a national nonprofit, Sports Business and Leadership Association, that takes underprivileged youths to sporting events.
    In the beginning, just walking around the block was a victory. Six or seven months after the shooting, Mika said he was running again and playing basketball, baseball, softball, golf and hockey. But his recovery hasn't been linear -- "you fix one thing," he said, "and then something else comes up."
    2018 Congressional Hockey Game. Pictured, from left: Matt Mika, Special Agent Crystal Griner, Zack Barth. Photo provided by Matt Mika