LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gregg Garfield’s annual group ski trip to Northern Italy back in February started off picture perfect, but what he and his friends didn’t know is that they had all been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
“You got to understand,” Garfield said. “If I miss a day skiing, I’m on my deathbed.”
Garfield was on the trip with about a dozen others — the same trip another SoCal family was on where a father and two sons contracted the illness — and shortly after he returned from Europe, he went to the hospital.
“Ambulance came in full hazmat gear, and I walked in and I was Patient Zero at the hospital,” he said.
The 54-year-old had no idea coronavirus would take him to the brink.
“The disease kicked off, and my immune system just ate me alive,” Garfield said.
Garfield’s body started shutting down. He was intubated and stayed on a ventilator for 31 days. He became sceptic, his kidneys failed and his blood pressure plummeted, changing the color of the skin on his fingers.
But through it all, his sister and girlfriend were by his side.
“The infectious disease doctor walks in the other day and says to me, ‘You’re a miracle. Medically you should not be here,'” Garfield said.
On Friday, Garfield will leave the Burbank hospital where he has been a patient for 64 days, greeted by his family, girlfriend and friend Steve Alexander.
“This is really emotional for me,” Garfield said. “I have a hard time receiving. I have received an outpour of unbelievable love. The only thing I really am focused on right now is telling the story about how real this is.”
Garfield said he still has a long way to go in his recovery, learning how to breathe and walk again, but he said he was confident he would ultimately recover completely.