OCALA, Fla. (AP) - COVID-19 turned 51-year-old Chuck Westphal's life upside down.
The Marion County firefighter spent nearly seven months in and out of the hospital battling an infection, but he is finally back at home.
"It's been an unbelievable roller coaster. I’d go in one day, and he was doing a little bit better. The next day, there was something bad. It was really difficult," Chuck's wife, Lara Westphal told FOX 35 News.
Westphal has a long road to full recovery ahead. He has undergone a tracheostomy and still requires an oxygen machine to help with his breathing.
But his family says Westphal's eager to get back to firefighters – which he's done for about 12 years with Marion County.
"He said I have three parts to myself. I’m a father, I’m a husband, and I’m a driver engineer. I’ve lost one part of myself. It would mean everything," Lara Westphal said.
Getting back on the job is going to take a lot of rehabilitation.
While insurance is paying for most of it, the family will still need some assistance.
That's why his friend Mark Rothenberg started a GoFundMe.
"The man was a firefighter, who was in shape, who could do a hard job…the amount of care it’s going to take, they’re going to go through every bit that insurance is going to cover," Rothenberg said.
Chuck's condition has been unpredictable since he came down with COVID-19. But his family and friends are hopeful about the future ahead.
Watch FOX 35 News for the latest launch updates.