Valencia COVID-19 long-hauler shares his frightening experience to encourage vaccinations

"I can tell you firsthand this is a horrible disease you wouldn't wish on anybody."
VALENCIA, Calif. (KABC) -- A year ago this week, when the pandemic was still in its early stages, Ryan Villiers was diagnosed with COVID-19.

In a series of videos posted to Facebook, the Valencia man went on to chronicle his hospitalization and struggle with the disease - and the night he came frighteningly close to death.

Now on March 20 - exactly a year to the day after Villiers was first diagnosed - he is set to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Villiers is speaking out now about his experience to help encourage others to get vaccinated and avoid the nightmare he and his family endured.

"There was a night that they brought out the crash cart and they thought I was going to expire," Villiers recalled.

"It was very hard to sit down our two daughters down and tell them their dad was sick," said his wife, Annmarie.

Villiers initially spent 15 days in the hospital after his diagnosis. But he continued to struggle with a long recovery as he experienced "long-hauler" symptoms, including continuing difficulty breathing.

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Long after the pandemic subsides, doctors predict we will see the impact on COVID-19 survivors for years to come.

"It was psychologically one of the hardest things anyone would have to deal with," Villiers recalled. "Because there's the uncertainty of whether you're going to live or die. But there's also the isolation from your family."

As he marks his year anniversary this COVID long hauler is still fighting to regain what he lost and still urging everyone to remain safe and on guard.

"I can tell you firsthand this is a horrible disease you wouldn't wish on anybody."

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