COVID-19 survivor shares his battle to live after 6 weeks of hospitalization: I am a miracle

In the hospital for six weeks, on a ventilator for 28 days - Anthony Best, survived COVID-19.

Best used to love to dance with his wife Carmella, but now the 62-year-old is learning how to walk again.

He spent six weeks in the hospital 28 days intubated on a ventilator - not sure if he would live.

"There were days that I wanted to give up and say okay, God take me on home," he said.

With COVID-19 patients in isolation, no wife, or family was allowed to see him during his extended stay at DMC's Sinai-Grace Hospital. 

"One of the nurses there, named Miriam, she would squeeze my hands and sometimes she would hug me and let me cry," he said.

People died around him - but slowly he improved, giving his care team hope. 

"They were all pulling for me, because so many people had died and I was like a hope cause for them," Best said.

But, once he was off the vent - and tested negative for the virus his journey to normalcy was just beginning, with physical therapy. 

"Your mind might tell you can do it but your body it has to catch up with your mind," he said.

He came to DMC's Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan on oxygen and with a walker - it's what they're seeing in post-COVID patients.

SOT Mark Mitchell, Physical Therapist at DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan 
"He felt really weak and he was not able to do anything near to what he was used to doing," said Mark Mitchell.

DMC Physical Therapist Mark Mitchell says people underestimate the toll being immobile in the hospital takes, especially with a disease that attacks the lungs. 

"The big things would be endurance I would expect everyone to come over here in in patient rehab with some kind of supplementary oxygen just because they had a vent doing that for them for so long," he said.

And muscle atrophy leaves some COVID patients struggling to move.  

"Definitely the muscle wasting and the balance, people take for granted," Mitchell said. "Just how much your body is working against gravity is actually working your body."

Ten days of in-patient therapy and Best is still using a cane…with several more months of out-patients help ahead. Friday, he'll leave the hospital for good. 

"When you get to a point, " Best said. "And you have been at death's door, you realize that you're a miracle, because I am, to be here."