CHICAGO (CBS) — A Carol Stream COVID-19 survivor is back home for the first time in more than two months, but he said there are days he can’t even remember.
After 72 days battling COVID-19 Chuck Drungelo finally felt the fresh air outside Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital and an embrace from loved ones who weren’t certain any of it would be possible.
“At one point I thought we were going to lose him for sure,” his wife Diane said.
“I told God I’m not ready when I got to the ICU,” Chuck said.
Chuck beat multi-system organ failure, and the cocktail of antiviral medications, blood therapy and receiving plasma from a coronavirus survivor managed to bring him back from the brink of death. Much of it he cannot remember.
“Chuck keeps asking like, ‘When did this happen?'” Diane said. “All of May is a blur.”
“Missed about three months of my life,” Chuck said. “I couldn’t talk at one time.”
“I took care of him a lot,” said nurse Katie Reimer. “You could see he could hear you sometimes.”
Katie Reimer worked with Chuck during his most critical hours, including 19 days on life support. His wife Diane and son were always close by but not in the way anyone wanted.
“I was on the ventilator after he was,” Diane said. “To have three of us intubated at the same time in the hospital was just unreal.”
“I don’t know what I would have done if something happened to one of them,” Chuck said.
“We all almost died,” Diane said. “And you don’t know the severity in which you’re going to get this.”
All have since left the hospital, believing that got the virus after Chuck returned from a grocery store around Easter. His return to better health included learning how to walk again as he was bedridden for most of his COVID-19 fight.
“About 17 days ago I couldn’t stand,” he said.
Chuck left the hospital to applause and relief. He also has a message for anyone hoping to stay out of such places.
“Wear your mask,” he said. “You’re going to save yourself or someone else.”
“Take this seriously because this is no joke,” Diane said.
Diane estimates the hospital bills for his stay at more than $2 million. They are hopeful their health insurance will cover that bill.