A Saskatchewan man who spent more than a year in hospital recovering from COVID-19 is finally home.
Ken Roth, 67, contracted the disease in July 2021 while on a family vacation in Alberta.
The unvaccinated grandfather was first hospitalized in Calgary and spent weeks in a coma. He said he nearly died.
He was transferred to Saskatoon, but then airlifted to Ontario when Saskatchewan's ICU's became overwhelmed during the fourth wave in the fall. Then he was transferred back to Saskatoon.
In total, Roth spent 376 days in hospital.
"Sometimes I wanted to just actually die. I was so fatigued and tired. Laying in bed, I couldn't even move," Roth said Wednesday.
The retired fire chief is relieved to be back in his northern community of La Loche, Sask., 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
He said about 100 of his friends and neighbours lined the streets in their vehicles to welcome him home Monday after midnight.
"They were all honking their horns and hollering. 'Welcome home Ken Roth.' I was really surprised and thankful," Roth said.
"They lifted my spirit up and I have a reason to keep going."
Roth said the best part of being back home is spending time with his family.
His wife Lorraine and daughter Kendra moved into a hotel in Saskatoon for the time he was hospitalized there.
"[My daughter] and my wife stayed by my side through the whole ordeal," Roth said.
"Without their support I don't think I would have made it."
Kendra has taken a home care course so she can nurse him in La Loche.
Meanwhile Lorraine helps him with things like showering and getting dressed.
Recovery complicated by pneumonia and infections
Roth's recovery was complicated by bouts of pneumonia, infections and other setbacks.
In May, he began rehabilitation so he could walk again.
He's still very weak.
"I walk about 15 steps then I have to stop because I can't breathe," Roth said.
He uses a wheelchair and is grateful for friends who built him a ramp outside his house.
Roth warns people that COVID is still out there and "is not a joke."
He said he hopes he's strong enough to be back on his fishing boat next summer.