When Randy Blondin was taken to hospital last April because of COVID-19, he was told he had no choice but to be intubated.
That's when the La Pêche, Que., man knew he needed to call his wife, Guylaine Larocque.
"I figured it might be the last time I spoke with her, so I just told her the tubes were going in and I loved her. [Then] I dropped the phone on the floor."
Blondin was put in a semi-coma and wouldn't wake up again until more than two weeks later.
You never know when the end is going to be there for you. But you've got to make the best of it. - Randy Blondin
The 60-year-old believes he was one of the first in the Outaouais region to get COVID-19. Nearly a year later, Blondin said, his memories of what happened are still clear.
His symptoms began late in March 2020, when he lost his sense of taste one night and later developed a cough.
By the time he went to the hospital a few days later, Blondin said, he was barely able to breathe. He was given a roughly 20 per cent chance of survival.
'Close to death'
Blondin would spend the next 18 days in a coma, fighting for his life. While his wife lived in fear of losing her husband, Blondin said he spent the whole time dreaming.
"I dreamt I travelled the world, you know, places I'd never been to or anything. I know I was close to death, but now I can't really say I felt like I was close to death."
Blondin has made a full recovery and said he's still grateful for the health-care workers who saved his life.
"It's incredible how hard they work. And when you see that they're tired, they really are tired," he said.
Hopes people can 'enjoy life again'
In a full-circle moment, Blondin recently received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as he's a caregiver for his 91-year-old mother, who lives in a long-term care home in Ontario.
Regardless, Blondin plans to continue to be careful until more people are immunized. He said he avoids going to stores and restaurants, and is hopeful people can "enjoy life again" soon.
His experience has also put things into perspective.
"You never know when the end is going to be there for you," Blondin said. "But you've got to make the best of it, that's for sure."