'I don't know how I survived it': Local couple shares how they overcame a COVID-19 nightmare

Screen Shot 2021-04-19 at 8.07.51 AM.png
Posted at 8:27 AM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 09:41:12-04

LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — An elderly couple in Lorain County survived a COVID-19 nightmare and now they are sharing their story and their message of hope to others.

It was a nightmare that doctors were not sure Frank Vyka would wake up from.

"They the doctors gave me a 20% chance of making it. And then they cut it down to ten before they sent me to a nursing home," said Frank Vyka.

The 90-year-old was hospitalized for more than a month fighting COVID-19.

"Three weeks in the ICU and then a month and in a step-down unit. He was on a ventilator for 12 days. He had a 10% chance of coming off of the ventilator. By the grace of God, someone he did," his daughter, Audrey Gott.

His wife of almost 70 years was sick with COVID-19, too.

“I had the virus. I didn't do anything but sleep. My daughters would come and bring food, leave it in the garage, and then I'd go out to the garage, bring it in and eat. I go back to bed and go to sleep. That's all I did was sleep. I couldn't stay up. It just. That's it. That's it," said his wife, Aldine.

The couple was nursed back to health by their four daughters.

“I don't know how I survived it. I really don't. I think if God didn't want me," Frank said.

Frank spent four months recovering at the home of one of his children.

But my dad had to learn everything. He had to learn how to walk, learn how to talk, speech therapy, occupational therapy, how to eat. I mean, he couldn't swallow. He could not swallow food. Liquid had to be thickened. It was something out of a movie. You were living it, but you couldn't believe that this was actually happening," said Gott.

Slowly but surely, Frank surprised the doctors and recovered.

“Eventually from a wheelchair to a walker, from a walker to a cane, and then at the end able to walk on his own and recently took a walk around the block with my mom," she said.

And now Frank told us he is sharing his story to give others fighting COVID-19 hope.

Next month the couple will celebrate 69 years of marriage.

“Many people at age 89 and 90 would not go through what they went through. They would just say, I'm done, peace out. But they wanted to continue on. So I feel that that is such a strong sense of love.”

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Download the News 5 app for free to easily access local coronavirus coverage, and to receive timely and limited news alerts on major COVID-19 developments. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Vaccinating Ohio - Find the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccines, Ohio's phased vaccination process, a map of vaccination clinics around the state, and links to sign up for a vaccination appointment through Ohio's online portal.

See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.

Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.

Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.

Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.

We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.

View a map of COVID-19 testing locations here.

Visit Ohio's Coronavirus website for the latest updates from the Ohio Department of Health.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.