COLTON (CBSLA) — Joseph Weber pushed his walker to the end of his Colton driveway and took a seat Friday evening.
Still hooked up to an oxygen tank, with a tracheostomy tube in his windpipe, the 45-year-old knew how blessed he was to be there.
“Makes you wanna fight harder knowing that that many people care about you,” he said.
Weber was hospitalized for 40 days after contracting COVID-19 — 30 of which he spent placed on a ventilator. He also developed pneumonia and a secondary infection and said a nurse at Kaiser Woodland Hills later told him that he was in the worst shape of any coronavirus patient they had seen.
“They never said, ‘Don’t expect him to make it,’ but they did tell them, ‘He’s either gonna get the lucky straw or the unlucky straw,'” Weber said.
And while he was intubated, doctors told Weber’s family that his survival hinged on how hard he was willing to fight for his life.
“Me not fighting was not an option,” he said.
Maybe Weber developed that extra grit to keep going during his time serving this country as a proud Marine Corps veteran or maybe it was his love for his wife and their six children.
“Every time the phone rang, I didn’t know if they were gonna call me and tell me, ‘Your husband’s dying, your husband’s dead,” Cynthia Franco, Weber’s wife, said. “I just remember calling his mom and my mom and just saying, ‘I can’t lose him.'”
Franco said she was beyond thankful to be able to share Friday evening’s car parade with her husband, watching as friends and family drove by to celebrate his discharge from the hospital.
“It can hit you like a truck, or it can hit you like the flu,” Weber said of COVID-19. “And you don’t know.”
And for those finding themselves in the same position as Weber, walking a thin line between life and death, he said they have to find the will to survive.
“You can’t just go out there and say, ‘Oh, the doctors are going to take care of me,'” he said. “You have to want to beat it.”
Weber was treated with Remdesivir, steroids and Anakinra, an immunosuppressive drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, though he said faith was also a big factor in his recovery.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the cost of Weber’s medical bills.