This Hamilton man stuck in hospital with COVID-19 is now behind on rent and car payments
Delio Delgado lives in a hot spot in Hamilton and wishes the province did more to get him vaccinated
When Delio Delgado turns 51 on Wednesday, he'll be inside a Hamilton hospital battling COVID-19.
"I was hoping that tomorrow would be a happier day," he said.
But his birthday almost didn't come.
Since mid-March, he's been fighting a virus that nearly killed him.
And while he's on a long road to recovery now, when Delgado leaves the hospital, he'll have another uphill battle — the Dominican-born Hamiltonian has fallen behind on rent and car payments.
"I'm not doing very well," Delgado said about his finances from his hospital bed during an interview on Tuesday morning.
"I had to stop the lease of the car, I had to stop insuring the car ... I'm an industrial and residential painter ... my car gets me my income."
And Delgado said his driver's licence was suspended because he was unable to do a required physical exam, which he worries will jack up his insurance when he's ready to drive.
But Delgado said he's thankful to be breathing, even if it doesn't come easy.
From home to induced coma in a matter of days
Delgado said he worked at Hamilton General Hospital as a painter during most of the pandemic, which allowed him to learn a lot about the virus and staying safe.
He eventually stopped working there and was on unemployment insurance before his life changed in March.
Delgado isn't sure how he got the virus, but he lives in one of Hamilton's hot spot neighbourhoods. His area, with the L8N postal code, was recently given vaccine priority.
WATCH: Hamilton man describes emotional moments in ICU with COVID
On March 13, after feeling a few symptoms he thought could be COVID-19, Delgado said he had uncontrollable diarrhea.
That's when he said he decided to go to the emergency room at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton.
Delgado said he was immediately given oxygen and put into the intensive care unit (ICU).
"I got into ICU and it was like a hurricane, I got like four or five nurses around me and everyone is doing a different task, and I remember, 'What is his oxygen level? What is his oxygen level? He's not doing very well,' that's what I'm hearing," Delgado said.
"I spent three or four days like that."
While he was in the ICU, Delgado said he had a quiet moment with his doctor.
"My doctor at the time, she stopped at the door of the ICU. It was all glass. She can see through ... I was just passing out almost and I put my hand on my heart and I tapped it like ... 'I appreciate what you're doing, saving my life,'" Delgado said, tearing up.
"The beautiful thing, that gave me a smile on my heart, was she [pulled down] her mask and gave me a smile and she also tapped her heart back."
Shortly after, Delgado entered an induced coma.
He's unsure when he woke up, but Degaldo said he was on a ventilator and a liquid diet. Then he said doctors told him he'd be leaving the ICU and beginning his road to recovery.
Delgado said his cousin came to visit him that day and said they heard on March 27 he only had half an hour to live.
"Miraculously, I got out of the dark days," he said.
Province should've rolled out vaccines sooner, Delgado says
Now he's thinking about leaving the hospital — but he'll have to deal with those missed payments, which he said are roughly $1,250 a month.
In Delgado's case, a group of friends and local artists started a fundraiser to help him avoid being overwhelmed with debt when he leaves.
Ingrid Mayrhofer, one of his friends who started the GoFundMe page, said it's been four days and they've raised nearly $4,000 of their $5,000 goal.
"He's the first person I actually know who was infected ... It's definitely hit home," she said.
"I'm really grateful for how the arts community has come together in support of Delio."
WATCH: Ford blames lack of vaccines for COVID-19 crisis, should he?
Delgado said the Ford government needs to do more to help COVID-19 survivors avoid financial hardship.
"I don't know what the measures could've been because everybody's situation is different ... I don't think they're doing the best job with this pandemic either," he said.
One thing he wishes happened sooner was lowering the age limits for people to get doses of vaccines like AstraZeneca and reaching hot spot communities sooner.
"We know this pandemic is affecting more marginalized and people of colour than any other demographic," he said Tuesday.
"Everything should've happened sooner."
Family, painting and religion fuel for recovery
Delgado said he became religious because of his time in the ICU.
After he's back home, Delgado said he wants to spend time with his mother, who plans on coming from the Dominican Republic.
He also said he's excited to see his American bulldog, Useey, his 10-year-old son, Samuel, and start painting again.
"That's my fuel," Delgado said.