"I get to go home and I am so ready," Craig Brown said with a huge smile.
Brown has spent the winter in the hospital fighting COVID. There were some close calls. On Christmas Eve, doctors were afraid the retired CPA wasn't going to make it.
In addition to COVID, Brown was also fighting double pneumonia at one point, as well as an E-coli infection that he contracted, his wife said. But he fought to stay alive through it all.
His wife Cindy said while he was on a ventilator, one of his four kids came up with the nickname "Papa Bear" to encourage him to fight through this.
"She just kept on telling him to keep sleeping like a 'Papa Bear' and just hibernate because we know you're going to fight and come home," she said.
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Brown spent more than 50 days on a ventilator. During that time, his wife says the nurses at Long Beach Medical Center helped the family stay in touch with a little voice recorder to play their messages to him.
"Just words of affirmation, and just saying, 'You are fighter. You've got this. With every new day you're getting better. You're getting stronger. You're getting healthier. You're going to come home. We're going to have our Christmas together,'" she said.
The family hasn't opened up their Christmas gifts yet. They've been waiting for Brown to come home. Cindy says she's helping to raise funds for the hospital to add devices and technology to help families communicate with their loved ones in the hospital. It's something she says helped Brown fight and survive.
Brown is now in rehab at the Memorial Care Rehabilitation Institute at Long Beach Medical Center. The great news is that he will soon be released from the hospital. He is set to go home this weekend.
So what's the first thing he wants to do when he gets home?
"Hug my wife standing up. And then, my son will be there. See our puppies. You know fresh air, sunshine, can't wait. I can't wait to get into the car, roll down the window and let the breeze hit me," he said.
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