'I was a day from dying:' Gatineau man recounts months-long COVID-19 ordeal

In an induced coma and on a ventilator after contracting COVID-19, Peter Simard was at death’s door. 

“I think I was a day from dying,” Simard says.

“He had the most severe form of COVID,” adds his wife, Celine Lafreniere. “His lungs were finished.”

But nearly nine months since he was diagnosed, the Gatineau man is in recovery. 

On Aug. 18 last year, Simard, 59, left work early because he wasn’t feeling well. He went to get tested for COVID-19 and two days later learned he had tested positive.

According to Lafreniere, that’s when things took a turn for the worse.

“Peter woke up and he couldn’t breathe, so I had to call the ambulance,” she said. Two days later he was transferred to the intensive care on the COVID unit and a week later it deteriorated again, so they had to put him in a ventilator, so an induced coma.”

 He was in a coma for two and a half months. During that time his lungs got infected.

“They sat me and his three older children down and they told us Peter is going to die,” Lafreniere said. “There’s nothing we can do, let him go.”

She said no, and that perseverance paid off.

“By some miracle, my body started breathing on its own with help from a ventilator,” Simard said. “Next thing you know, every day I started to get better.”

Simard is currently in a rehabilitation centre in Hull recovering from his near-death experience.

“I’ve got another six to nine months of recovery, and I don’t know at what point I’ll recover,” Simard said. “It might only be 80 per cent but I’ll take it.”

Simard is scheduled to head home on May 13. The family installed a ramp in front of the house in Gatineau where he will continue his rehab from the comfort of his own  home, surrounded by his loved ones.

“We didn’t give up. He’s getting better and I’m happy,” Lafreniere said. “I’m smiling now because he’s coming home.”

 Simard is also counting down the days. Aside from reuniting with his wife, he already knows what he wants to do next.

“I’m going to go see my two young children and then I’m going to have a steak and glass of wine for supper,” he said.