RACINE, Wis. - A Racine woman is home Wednesday night, Dec. 16, after the fight of her life. Now, she has a warning for others about the coronavirus.
Denise Sucharda and her husband became sick with COVID-19 in early April; unaware as to how they were exposed. While her husband recovered, she ended up hospitalized. That included a nearly three-month-long stay at Select Specialty Hospital in Milwaukee.
On Wednesday, the sounds of celebration reverberated from Zion, Illinois, where she spent several months in rehab, all the way to Racine for Sucharda's homecoming -- the end of a long-fought battle with COVID-19.
"To be given a second chance is the best thing in the world to me," Sucharda said.
For nearly as long as people have adapted to life amid the pandemic, Sucharda had been fighting to keep her own.
"I went in on April 5, I was intubated on April 7, I spent two months in the hospital here in Racine, moved to a hospital in Milwaukee. I was ventilated for three months, I don’t remember any of that," said Sucharda.
Sucharda then spent the last four months living in a rehabilitation center, building back her strength.
"Worked very hard to get where I am right now," Sucharda said.
On Wednesday, she was surrounded by loved ones.
"Amazing, a very big blessing for sure," said Dana Gray, Sucharda's daughter.
COVID-19 restrictions meant that family members could only communicate with Sucharda by phone -- with the help of health care workers.
"That got us through, too, knowing there were nurses that cared for her," Sylvia Peterson, Sucharda's mother, said. "It was a lot of ups and downs, a lot of emotions."
Now, with a new lease on life, Sucharda has a message she hopes others will hear.
"I want people to know that it is serious and that families go through a very traumatic experience when their loved ones are going through COVID devastation like that," said Sucharda. "I know some people have it very mild and they think it’s not that serious. When you're in a situation like my family's been through, it is very serious."
Sucharda's road to recovery isn't over. Her kidneys were affected and she is now on dialysis. She will also need to continue home therapy. Sucharda stells FOX6 News she did not have any pre-existing conditions.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by her family to help cover medical expenses. CLICK HERE to donate.