LAND O' LAKES, FLA.- — A 35-year-old remains at a long-term acute care hospital after battling COVID-19 since July.
Erick Mejia said he was hospitalized after contracting the virus more than a month ago.
He said he works as a DJ and believes he contracted the virus at a party.
"I started having like cold-like symptoms, you know, a fever, headache, temperature, those types of things," said Mejia.
In July, he was hospitalized after having trouble breathing. He had bilateral pneumonia and needed oxygen.
"All your talking, your breathing, your concentration. you really have to tone it down to the bare minimum because everything is soaking up precious little bits of energy," he said.
For the past 2 weeks, he has been at AdventHealth Connerton in Land O' Lakes. He needs to regain his strength and go for physical therapy.
Mejia has been separated from his family for 5 weeks. His wife and two children visit him by seeing him through a window.
"They're coming up to my window and saying "hi." They're getting on the phone saying hey, we see you, it's good to see you there because we can't hug and things like that," said Mejia.
Mejia's friends are raising money online on a GoFundMe page since he has been unable to work and will have medical bills.
Mejia said he planned to get the vaccine, but was hesitant. He contracted the virus before getting vaccinated.
"I don't advocate for anyone, that they should or should not do anything to their body. I believe that's a personal decision that everybody has to make on their own through the advice of their medical teams, their families," he said.
Mejia said he knows people in nearby hospital rooms did not make it.
"Seeing the trauma come through the eyes of the nurses and the staff and everything, they come through the door knowing that they weren't able to save the patient next door and to know the extent of the damage could have easily, easily been avoided. It's tragic, it had to get this far and I hope people can take a lesson from my example," he said.
Meijia has shared his journey on a Facebook page, "Tacos for Erick."
"Some people still believe it's fake and if I can use my platform to show people the reality."
Meijia said he cannot wait to go home to his family.
"Life your life. It's a beautiful life worth living. It's not worth having something so stupid like COVID-`19 rip it away from you for a completely avoidable reason so learn from my lesson."