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Chula Vista city council member Steve Padilla returns home to recover from coronavirus

Padilla spent 11 days on a ventilator and lost 27 pounds.

SAN DIEGO — Chula Vista City Council Member Steve Padilla knows firsthand just how difficult it is to battle coronavirus. He ended up in the intensive care unit (ICU) at UCSD Thornton twice.

"It really underlines what a vicious, aggressive, indiscriminate virus this is," said Padilla. "You are fine one moment, and literally not okay the next."

News 8 talked to him on the phone March 16, shortly after he was first diagnosed with COVID-19 and released from the hospital. Three days after the interview, Padilla was back in the hospital in the intensive care unit.

"I started having consistent spiking fevers, coughing fits, [and] chattering teeth," he said. 

"It’s a scary thing to feel okay one minute, and be talking with your doctors about being put on a ventilator the next," he said.

He spent 11 days on a ventilator, essentially in a coma.

"They administer some very powerful drugs to you and when you come out of those drugs, there's sometimes delirium, which I did experience a little bit," he said. "My family tells me after the fact, there were some scary moments when I was on that ventilator. There were moments when I could not have come home."

Padilla talked about family support during this difficult time.

"The first time I spoke with my daughter and my son-in-law after coming out of the ventilation, [it] was just simply a very emotional call, as you might imagine," Padilla added. 

Credit: KFMB

He lost 27 pounds in just two weeks.

"I'm getting wheeled out of the ICU, and I'm watching a story about a surgeon in New York who dies in his husband's arms because the man went to work to help other people," said Padilla. "Here I am getting wheeled out of that hospital at some point, and it makes no rhyme or reason, and it really makes you reflect. 'What should you be doing?'"

Padilla said he will be doing everything he can to make sure the San Diego region has the resources it needs to deal with this pandemic. He said he can't stress enough how grateful he is to the doctors and nurses at UC San Diego Health.

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