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Covid long hauler shares message as we near end of pandemic

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Ricky

ALBANY (WKOW) -- For people who fight through COVID-19, sometimes the symptoms don't go away.

A CDC study found two-thirds of non-hospitalized patients received some kind of new diagnosis up to six months after getting the virus.

These people are referred to as "long haulers."

Months after his COVID diagnosis, an Albany man is still living with long-term symptoms.

But after spending nearly 100 days in the hospital, he's working his way back to good health.

In mid-November, Ricky DeNure was one of the hundreds of people fighting for his life during his stay at UnityPoint Health Meriter's ICU COVID floor -- a very hard time for his family.

"There were weeks that Ricky didn't know what was going on because he was in a coma induced to be on the ventilator cause he was on the ventilator for 60 days," Arlinda Faessler, Ricky's sister said.

Ricky spent nearly 100 days in the hospital, before being able to go back home to Albany in January, where he was given a hero's welcome.

"It was overwhelming to get that kind of attention. I said I'd rather have it because I won the lottery," he said.

Ricky is now able to see his sister and the rest of his family in person because everyone is fully vaccinated.

But he's still struggling with the long-term effects.

"I got some of my nerves that are still asleep, some in my feet, my legs, part of my arm and some of my lip," he said. "I kind of run out of air after about a 20-30 minute walk."

Ricky's now exercising every day, going through his physical therapy to get back to full strength.

Now he wants everyone to know that any person can get COVID-19 and get it bad, and there's a really easy way to make sure you don't get it: getting vaccinated.

"It makes you feel pretty good that there's something out there that's going to help with this pandemic," Ricky said.

After everyone gets vaccinated, he's just hoping to get back to normal life.

"I know it's an old cliché but tomorrow never comes, live for the day, hug and kiss everybody," he said fighting back tears.

The Albany community is helping Ricky with some of his medical bills with a car cruise and pig roast benefit.

The event will be June 26th with stops around Green County.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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