32-year-old Kyle Schriner thought he would die from COVID-19. So did his wife, Brianna, who feared she would have to raise the couple's now 1 & 5-year-old daughters alone.
But after 28 days in the ICU at UPMC Harrisburg Hospital, 2 weeks on a ventilator, and being given last rites 3 times, Schriner now sits on his front porch thankful to breathe again.
He admits, he's still not fully recovered from that hospital stay that lasted from April to May of this year. He continues to have decreased lung capacity and he's receiving long-term treatment from UPMC for complications caused by the virus.
Tears run from his eyes as he recounts the days he spent fighting for his life.
"I was working and all of a sudden I started to get these hot flashes," he said, but he passed it off as allergies. Schriner said he went to lay down and he didn't wake up for dinner. When he did eat, he said he lost all sense of taste.
"We were having dinner and I told her (his wife) the rice was bland when I was eating it. And, she goes that's impossible. It's Hello Fresh. And, it was lemon zested jasmine rice," he said.
Schriner had just become eligible for the vaccine when he began to feel ill in April. He admits, he wasn't sure about getting the shot as he is scared of needles and he questioned what was in the vaccine and how fast it rolled out. His wife, a hospice nurse who was fully vaccinated, urged Schriner to go to the doctor to get tested for COVID-19.
"When I got the positive test, I felt like everybody. I was going to get two weeks off. Everybody I knew had it, didn't get sick at all," Schriner said.
Schriner's temperature soared to 103 degrees.
"The biggest thing I ate in 2 weeks, the biggest meal in a full 24 hours was four chicken nuggets and two fries," he said.
Schriner's wife persuaded him to go to UPMC Harrisburg in an ambulance after she told him her concerns over his breathing.
Watch Part 2 of Schriner's story below and ready about the doctors that helped save his life here.
"Everybody's like, oh, it's just the flu. I've had the flu. That was not the flu," he said.
Upon arrival, doctors immediately told Schriner they needed to evaluate him for the ICU as his lung collapsed. He would spend the next two weeks on a ventilator and the next 28 days in the ICU.
Schriner's illness even caused him to miss his own brother's wedding, in which he was supposed to serve as the best man, as he remained fighting for his life.
"Mentally and physically exhausting," is how Schriner's wife Brianna described the month-long hospital stay. "I wasn't sleeping."
With double vision and a tube still in his neck, Kyle Schriner used his stomach to write messages until doctors were finally able to pull the ventilator out. Schriner said he's made large strides in his recovery with the help of doctors from UPMC who also have a post COVID clinic. Part of that recovery, Schriner said, was learning to walk again.
"Everyday I wake up I don't know who I'm going to be," he said. "Am I going to wake up and be able to pick up my daughters? Am I going to be able to walk to the kitchen to get something to drink?"
Schriner spoke glowingly of the people who cared for him in the hospital from the nursing staff to the doctors to the people who gave him strength when he said he was in his darkest moments.
One of those 'heroes' just happened to live across the street from Schriner. UPMC Dr. Hassan Amhaz spoke to FOX43 about the day he realized his own next door neighbor, Schriner, was lying in one of the ICU beds.
"I just kind of glanced in and I saw Kyle. And, I just stopped. I just walked back and I looked in and I was like 'oh my God.' And I looked and you know it was just really scary," said Dr. Amhaz.
The two neighbors admit the experience has made their bond even stronger.
"If I was laying in that bed or if it was my wife or my family member, you know, would I let off the gas? You know in terms of keep pushing and doing things and stuff?" said Amhaz. "This is exactly a reminder of why you don't"
Kyle Schriner has now started a facebook group to form support for other survivors of COVID-19. He is hoping by sharing his story that more people will reach out to him so others who are continuing to recover from long-term complications can find support. He has entitled the page 'Survivors Of Covid-19: Day By Day."
"That was the happiest day of my life," he said about being released from the hospital. "I had been a month without seeing my kids."
Schriner is now fully vaccinated. For those who haven't been vaccinated, he said he still believe the shot is a choice. But he noted by not getting the two pricks in his arm, he paid the price.
"Had I had known that two shots in the arm or three now possibly would have saved me from a garden hose and getting pricked a million times, everyday in your stomach, your fingers, five times a day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, nighttime, wakeup to get your blood sugar. Ah, yeah, I would have taken those pricks. Yeah," he said.
"You're gambling with your life," he said as FOX43 asked him what his message was for people who were not vaccinated. "This isn't an agenda. This is peoples lives. I mourn the person I was before. I just took everything for granted. Just everybody real quick do me a favor. Everybody just breathe in real quick. Breathe out. That's a gift. You are not owed nothing."
Take a tour inside UPMC's Post COVID Clinic: