COVID-19 survivor from Tierrasanta grateful to get vaccine

Posted at 6:03 AM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 09:03:23-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Rich Pickett is back to his healthy, active life in Tierrasanta after a difficult battle with COVID-19 that left him hospitalized in April.

“I still think about the experience and the severity of it, and I think about all those people that weren’t able to make it,” the 67-year-old said.

Pickett thought he wouldn’t survive; he signed a do-not-resuscitate order and was put on a ventilator. While he was in a coma, doctors treated him with the drug Remdesivir after his wife signed off on the treatment.

Shortly after, his condition improved, and he was released from the hospital. He spent a total of 17 days hospitalized, including 12 in the Intensive Care Unit.

“It took about four months before my lungs finally didn’t hurt when I took a deep breath,” he said. “My throat had felt for a couple of months like someone was taking a knife down it from the scar tissue from the intubation.”

On Wednesday, Pickett was grateful to receive a shot to the arm, his first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. He said besides some soreness and a mild headache the next day; he had no side effects.

“It does take some pressure off you. There’s no question,” he said. “I hope other people can get it as fast as possible.”

Today, Pickett can enjoy life with his wife Jane, his adult children, and his grandkids.

He is also back to doing the work he’s passionate about, volunteering for Angel Flight West. A nonprofit that pairs patients who need medical care with pilots, like Pickett, who fly them to their treatments at no cost.

“We have around 15-1600 pilots and a huge amount of earth angels that help transport patients around the west,” he explained.

Pickett credits the healthcare and frontline workers for saving his life, allowing him to continue doing what he loves.

He hopes people will protect each other by continuing to mask up and get vaccinated when possible.

“I keep in touch with my doctors, they like to track me to see how I’m doing, and it’s great to keep in touch with them,” he said.