Man learning to walk, eat again after case of the flu

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Sunday, April 6, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- An Augusta man is glad to be alive after a serious case of the flu almost killed him.

Chris Corbett spent months in the hospital during one of the most severe flu seasons we've seen in years.

Now he's having to re-learn basic functions like eating and walking. News 12 sat down with him as he talks about his struggle to get back to normal life, and how he's just happy to be alive.

"I just pretty much remember waking up in the ICU," Corbett said.

What isn't blurry, is just black as Chris Corbett tries to put the pieces together of the last three months of his life.

"There's a lot I probably don't want to remember," he said.

"It was a nightmare," remembers his mother Deborah Collins.

Every painful detail is still fresh in her mind as she remembers the seemingly everyday sickness that almost sent him to the grave.

"I almost lost my child just because it was 'just the flu,'" Collins said.

But it wasn't just the flu. Corbett was battling the H1N1 virus, a particularly nasty strain that caused a pandemic in 2009 and came back to wreak havoc again this year.

"I also was diagnosed with rhabdomylosis," Corbett said, relaying what doctors had told him. "It literally eats your muscles, and that's part of having H1N1."

It took away from him almost every basic function in life at the ripe age of 42.

"Everything you take for granted I couldn't do. I had to learn how to eat again, the correct way. I had to learn how to walk again. Opening toothpaste. I couldn't even push the call button to call nurses," Corbett said.

"They didn't think he was going to survive. We were told more than once he would not survive," his mother said through tears.

The Georgia Department of Public Health reports the virus sent more than 850 people to the hospital and killed 53 in the state this season. Corbett was almost one of them.

"I was told they lost me twice. I was gone twice," he said.

"Look at these pictures," urged his mother. "This is what the flu can look like."

Every day he's getting stronger, walking a little further, and looking into the future he didn't think he'd have.

"I'm definitely getting a flu shot from now on," Corbett said.

Infectious disease doctors say Corbett is the perfect example of this year's flu victims. Instead of hitting the young and elderly, most of the severe cases affected those between the age of 20 and 50.

Chris was just released from the hospital this week and is taking each day one step at a time.

A donation fund has been set up for him at First Citizens Bank, 1289 Knox Ave., North Augusta, S.C. 29841.

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