MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — A Treasure Coast COVID-19 survivor said Monday that residents can't let their guard down when it comes to the coronavirus.
Jim Coffey spent more than two weeks on a ventilator.
"This is not the frickin' flu. Don’t mess with it," Coffey said. "It's amazing how this stuff affects you."
Coffey was admitted to Cleveland Clinic North on Jan. 3 with COVID-related shortness of breath.
Three days later, he had to be put on a ventilator.
"And all the alarm bells went off, and all the doctors and nurses were around me," Coffey said.
"I get the emergency call in the morning that we had to vent your husband," said Grace Coffey, Jim's wife.
Jim Coffey would be on that ventilator 17 days.
"I cried my eyes out, I dropped to my knees, I said, 'Please, God, help us,'" Grace Coffey said.
The doctor recommended Jim’s wife call their son in Alaska.
Max Coffey believed his dad, a 70-year-old Realtor with no previous health history, would make it.
"I knew that if anyone had a chance, he did," Max Coffey said.
Jim Coffey admits he was pretty cavalier about the coronavirus.
"I just thought, 'I'm doing all this stuff. It's no big deal. It's nothing.' Well, it's not nothing," Coffey said.
His message to everyone is to get vaccinated.
"You don't give up hope," Coffey said. "You keep praying. You send energy to your loved one. That's what saved me. I really do believe that."
Now in rehab, Coffey has a long road ahead but is getting better each day.
"I even walked 50 feet without a walker," Coffey said.
It's all thanks to a dedicated team of medical professionals.
"They're the best, " Coffey said. "They saved my life."
Coffee said he'll be at the Palm City Nursing and Rehab Center for another week or two before he can head home.