Eric Mancuso came to Castle Rock Adventist Hospital with shortness of breath and ended up staying for 35 days, most of which were on a ventilator, with COVID-19.

Eric is a retired Air Force veteran and works as an IT Specialist for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department headquartered in Castle Rock, Colorado. Since he was dealing with fever and difficulty breathing, his wife, Emme, drove him to the Emergency room.

“Being admitted was one of the last things I remember before waking up to a nurse saying, ‘Congratulations, you made it,’” he recalls. While Eric fought internally, Emme and their five children and six grandchildren struggled externally.

With no visitors being allowed into his room in order to safeguard patients and caregivers, Emme was taken aback by how gracious his nurses were. “They loved talking with me every day, several times a day. So sweet. They are just so tender and kind. I’m so grateful for them,” she said.

Eric’s nurses were Emme’s link back to Eric during his fight. They shared his progress and showed compassion, because not all the news was positive.

Doctors gave Eric a 50-50 chance of survival. He was one of Colorado’s first severe COVID-19 patients, and it was unknown how he would progress. Emme began researching funeral homes and began the process of thinking of what life would be like without Eric. But God’s grace is powerful. Eric did wake up.

On April 21, 2020, five weeks after he first came to the emergency room, surrounded by the nurses and other hospital caregivers, Eric was discharged with Emme by his side to a chorus of applause.

“I was the only one allowed to go into Eric’s room,” Emme recalled. “We had five minutes alone. It was the best five minutes we had ever had. Tears of joy and smiles and happiness all around.” The couple was greeted by two of their sons, Nick, who is 23, and Noah, who is 11, at the awaiting ambulance to be transferred to Encompass Rehabilitation facility, because unfortunately, Eric’s external fight is just beginning.

Eric has a long journey ahead of learning to walk and swallow again. COVID-19’s lasting effects for Eric are still unknown, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Emme reported that he is working hard and took his first few steps recently, and we pray for many more.