After spending more than 10 weeks in various hospitals while struggling against coronavirus, a Vietnam veteran is counting his blessings and reflecting on what he lost after he survived his fight, while others weren’t as fortunate.
Friends and family lined Matt Thomas’ street in suburban Aurora on Wednesday as he arrived home after spending 74 days in hospitals while battling the virus.
Tonight, he’s grateful for the doctors and nurses who helped him overcome the virus.
“Without them, I would have been dead,” he said.
He also knows that there is still a long road ahead, and he is emphatic that the road to recovery isn’t a simple one.
“You’re not just going to be sick. You’re going to go through some serious rehabilitation, including learning how to breathe again,” he said.
Thomas and his wife Lori both got coronavirus from their 34-year-old son Chris.
“This whole thing’s been horrible,” Lori Thomas said. “It’s just like one nightmare after another. It’s the worst thing you’ve ever gone through.”
While Lori had a mild case, Matt Thomas ended up intubated in an intensive care unit, as did the couple’s son. While Matt ultimately recovered from the illness, his son didn’t, passing away while his father was in the ICU.
“The last words he said to me, because he was going to be intubated, were ‘mom, this is going to kill me,’” Lori said. “That’s all I can hear in my head still. There was this nurse named Matt, and when they pulled my son’s tube out, he sat there and held his hand and stroked his hair while he was dying, because we couldn’t be anywhere near him.”
“I was still intubated in the ICU when they had to bury my son,” Matt said. “He had his whole life ahead of him.”
Thomas says that his son left behind two young children.
“Now I have to be grandpa and I have to be dad,” he said. “He left behind a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. They’re just now learning the meaning that dad’s not coming home anymore.”
The couple thinks that Chris Thomas contracted the coronavirus after going out with friends while not wearing a face mask.
“My son didn’t wear a mask until he got sick,” Matt Thomas said.
They are pleading with others to wear masks and to take proper precautions, saying that even though Chris Thomas was 34 years old and that he didn’t have any pre-existing conditions, the virus still struck him down.
“They need to do it (wear masks) all the time,” Matt Thomas said. “I don’t want to see anybody go through it and if I save one life, this was worth it.”