EVANS, Colo.— A father in a fight against the novel coronavirus says his prayers were answered after spending nearly two weeks at a Loveland hospital and several days in a coma.
Ernesto Castro, 35, was training for a marathon when he got sick.
"I was running every day, hitting the gym harder every time and the illness hit me," Castro said.
He expected a race against the clock, but not a fight for his life.
Castro said he initially thought it was the flu, a cold or his asthma acting up. When he went to visit his primary doctor, he gave Castro a note to get tested for the new virus. Castro said things got bad quickly, and his girlfriend took him to the hospital in Greeley. Due to his grave condition, he was transferred to UCHealth Medical Center in the Rockies.
He spent 10 days at the hospital and several in a medically induced coma.
"Multiple times, I would pray and think to myself, 'Please do not let this be the last time I see my kids,'" Castro said.
He vividly remembers the sleepless nights and fighting to breathe as COVID-19 attacked his body. Castro said he wasn't sure he would make it to his 35th birthday, on April 5.
Due to the new virus, he wasn't allowed to have visitors.
"My hardest thing is being alone, not being able to communicate with anybody," Castro said.
He said his doctors and family were his motivation to keep fighting. During his darkest times, nurses prayed with him and shared words of encouragement.
On March 30, his prayers were answered, and nurses rolled him out in a wheelchair from the hospital.
"As I was getting into the car, I saw my daughter, and I broke down," Castro said. "I started crying. Tears of joy, of course."
But he had to keep his distance; he said he was told to quarantine after leaving the hospital. His girlfriend had also tested positive for COVID-19 and was quarantined.
On Tuesday, once everyone completed their isolation, Castro was finally able to spend time with his girlfriend and children.
"I just have this outlook in life, and I just realized that God is giving me a second chance," Castro said. "I'm so thankful that I'm here with my family and kids."
Life is far from normal. Castro admits he has trouble walking and the fear of the virus still lingers.
"I still feel scared, I still feel paranoid," he said.
Through the fear, he remains grateful for his angels in gowns.
"You saved one, and that's me, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart," Castro said. "Thank you so much, and God bless everybody in the medical field."
Castro said he's worried about the hospital bills. He said so he hasn't received a bill, but he's sure it's just a matter of time. The healthcare caseworker hopes to return to work soon.