Kitchener man celebrates COVID-19 recovery milestone with special Swiss Chalet dinner

More than eight months after testing positive for COVID-19, a Kitchener man is celebrating a major milestone on his road to recovery.

Larry Dietrich was diagnosed with the disease on December 2, 2020. He spent the next three months in hospital, which included being on a ventilator and spending time in the intensive care unit.

That experience was challenging, not just for Larry, but his family too.

“The biggest thing for me is that once you have that dance with dance, you realize how important relationships are,” says his daughter Alyssia Dietrich.

After eight months with a feeding tube, Larry has now reached an important step in his COVID-19 recovery.

“My dad, as of two or three weeks ago, has been given the authorization to eat by mouth,” says Alyssia.

Larry can finally do something he’s been dreaming about since coming home in March – eating a meal with his whole family.

“I can’t tell you how difficult it is to sit around a dinner table and watch your dad eat out of a feeding tube while the rest of [us] just eat normal food. I’m getting choked up just saying that.”

Over the long weekend, the family took a trip to Port Elgin.

It was there that one of Larry’s wishes came true – he finally ate food from his favourite restaurant, Swiss Chalet.

The owner of the Port Elgin franchise heard Larry’s story, and decided to reach out to Alyssia. He decided to make an extra special meal and even delivered it himself at no extra cost to the family.

“They seem like a really nice family, and then what really got me was when Larry mentioned two things that I’m quite familiar with,” says Marcel Legault. “I love Port Elgin, I’ve been here for about 25 years, and Swiss Chalet.”

So what did Larry order?

“I, and the rest of the family just had quarter-chicken dinners, gravy, sauce and a regular bun,” says Larry.

The family says the support they’ve received from the community has helped them throughout their ordeal.

Larry’s recovery continues, and in the coming months he’ll have to undergo surgery to repair his vocal chords and to completely remove the feeding tube.

Thanks to his ongoing rehabilitation efforts, Larry no longer needs surgery on his esophagus.

“It’s been a long road and I’m very happy that he’s home beside us and with the whole family being able to enjoy everything again,” says Larry’s wife Janice Dietrich. “This weekend was just awesome.”

As he gets stronger, Larry says he looks forward to spending more time with his family and eventually going back to work.

CTV News Kitchener has been following along with Larry Dietrich’s recovery. See ‘Related Stories’ above to read more about his COVID-19 journey.