CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — After spending nearly a month in the hospital on the brink of death, a former ICU nurse and business owner is warning people to take COVID-19 seriously.
Forty-three year old Ricky Alaniz was not vaccinated when he contracted the virus.
“The stuff that I saw in the hospital, I’m trying to forget,” Alaniz said. “I have nightmares now. First from living it. I have maybe some PTSD and just anxiety, fear from suffocating.”
Still on a long road to recovery, he said he’s thankful to be alive. It’s a far cry from a few weeks ago.
“I begged several times to whoever would listen or come into my room, if they would please take my life,” Alaniz said. “Like, begged for death, I couldn’t breathe.”
The owner of Bluffalo Wings in Flour Bluff said the pandemic hit his business hard so he spent the last year working to get re-certified as an E.R. and ICU nurse. It was a job he worked for 11 years.
“I was supposed to start that week that I went into the hospital and never came out,” Alaniz said.
In late July, he contracted COVID-19 and he wasn’t vaccinated.
“My thing was I didn’t do well with vaccines before, so I was going to wait for a little bit more,” he said.
He was admitted to Bay Area, the hospital he used to work at.
“Every day you hear the codes, there’s not enough nurses,” Alaniz said. “There’s not enough respiratory therapists.”
By the second week, he was told to Facetime his loved ones before he was taken to the ICU.
“And to all our family so we did,” Alaniz said. “I got to say my goodbyes.”
The feeling all too familiar; his mom died of COVID-19 in September 2020.
“I couldn’t understand all of her fears and worries and why she couldn’t breathe until I experienced it myself,” Alaniz said.
His family, friends, coworkers and even strangers, held a vigil and continuously prayed for Alaniz.
”I heard my mom’s voice for the first time in like a year and I felt her touch and that felt like the realest thing in there,” he said.
And after pneumonia, a collapsed lung, breathing machines and several rounds of anti body treatments, he was released from Bay Area.
“My daughter turned 11 on August 20,” Alaniz said. “The day I got home. It was a great birthday present for her.”
He said he doesn’t want to tell people to get the vaccine or not, but he hopes his story inspires others to be vigilant.
“You know, it’s there,” Alaniz said. “Just protect yourselves and do what you think is best for you and your family-- whatever that may be. I can tell you from my own personal experience that I’ll be vaccinating myself.”Alaniz thanked the staff at Bay Area and said the E.R. on the Island that hired him said he has a job when he is ready.