LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - For the past couple of months, a Lufkin cardiologist has had to relearn how to walk, even quitting his job to focus on rehab, after the H1N1 virus left him powerless.
Christopher Gill says he had never gotten the flu shot before.
"I figured if I got the flu. Ok, I'd get sick, lay up in the hospital for a couple of days and I'd be fine. The problem is the flu can sometimes be a very bad infection and I, unfortunately, just got the very bad form of it where it really just destroyed my lung function," Gill said.
Last March, Gill said he woke up at Memorial Hospital 50 pounds lighter not having a clue as to where the past three months had gone.
"A few times, I remember waking up in the hospital and I was obviously very confused. I was thinking I was on this survivor's series. I was thinking I was in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I was very, very confused," Gill said.
He said he remembered snippets of the life flight from Lufkin to Houston. He said he was told he would be put into a sedated coma for two to three weeks while a machine operated as his lungs. But he was surprised when he woke up to the month of March, instead of January.
"I said 'no. that didn't happen to me.' And I didn't remember even getting sick. They told me that when it first started happening, I had a cough and I had trouble breathing and I was throwing up significantly," Gill said. "But, I don't remember a thing. Not a thing. As far as I knew, I was fine, working, and I woke up in the hospital."
His 19-year-old daughter, Becca, spoke to the East Texas News in January via Skype from Methodist Hospital in Houston.
"I talked to him hoping that he was listening and it was…I honestly tried not to look at him as much because it was just a scary sight, but after awhile it became normal because I talked to the doctors and they made an effort to teach me what was going on," Becca said.
She said for weeks she waited for her dad to open his eyes.
"And then he just opened his eyes one day. I came in and he started fluttering his eyes and I just started crying. I just started crying like Notebook crying. It was an amazing thing," Becca said. "It brought me to the realization that he's alive. He's in there. He's just not asleep and will never wake up again. His eyes are open."
Becca was able to raise over $16,000 through a Go Fund Me account and personal donations via get well cards from strangers and close friends.
"It was just the most incredible feeling reading everything and just feeling that emotional connection to someone. It was just incredible," Becca said.
Christopher is still working on walking, but says he can now walk a mile around his neighborhood without the help of a walker or a cane.
"I still have significant weakness in my legs. I also have to walk carefully without stumbling. And you can hear my voice is still a little raspy. But it's definitely much, much better than before," Christopher said.
Christopher said he had to part ways with his job so he could focus on his rehabilitation, but is hoping to return to work once he is 100 percent.
"I do thank everyone because I firmly believe that it was all the support from all the people around Lufkin and other areas," Christopher said.
"It's incredible; because just looking at him compared to how he used to be, sometimes it will give me flashbacks to when I was in the hospital and I was looking at him," Becca said.
If you have a survivor's story, especially overcoming bankruptcy or domestic violence, contact Michelle Reed at email@example.com.