CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – 53-year-old Robert Hughes is slowly rebuilding his strength after a life-threatening battle with COVID-19 this summer.
He wasn’t vaccinated at the time — a decision he now regrets.
“I was the kind of person that thought, ‘You know, I’ll be OK.’ But looking back now, I would take the shot a million times over,” recalled Hughes.
He was visiting family in Florida when he first got sick. He thought it was a cold, but his symptoms continued to escalate.
So his fiancé encouraged him to take a COVID test, which came back positive.
“It just got worse and worse. I couldn’t get out of bed much and finally my fiancé decided to take me to the hospital,” said Robert.
Before he knew it, he was being admitted to the ICU. “Then within a couple of days they said we’re going to have to intubate you,” he said.
Rajiv Sahni, MD, infectious disease specialist for Cleveland Clinic treated Robert.
“We try to keep our patients with COVID-19 off of the ventilator as long as possible just because they are able to assist way more by their own energy and own breathing,” Dr. Sahni explained.
He said a few days after Robert was intubated, his condition started to improve. And, while the worst of it was over, he still has to go through rehabilitation.
“When they recover, even when their lungs and their oxygen levels and the blood are recovering, it leaves them very weak,” said Dr. Sahni.
Robert said the ordeal has been emotional for his family.
“I have an adult daughter and she said she couldn’t eat, she couldn’t sleep because she was worried. Make sure that I was going to make it through, this and that, she didn’t know what to think,” he said.
As he continues his road to recovery, he encourages others to get vaccinated.
“Get that vaccination. You do not want to go through this,” said Robert.