LINCOLN (CBS13) — From barely breathing to hospital hero, a Lincoln man is at home recovering after a tough battle with coronavirus. Now his wife wants the public to know it’s important to listen to the governor and stay home.

From celebrating his daughter’s graduation to vacationing with the family, Preston family photos show the simpler times. It shows the chance to experience life before COVID-19. Life as we know it, now.

“It’s nothing like a bad flu,” Lori Preston said with a laugh.

Only days ago, Lori Preston’s healthy, 51-year-old husband Rodger Preston caught the virus. His family almost had to say goodbye, but there’s one message his wife Lori won’t forget.

“’I’m fighting to breathe, to live,'” Lori said. “And to have the energy to even get those words to us took several, several days.”

Inside Sutter Roseville, his ability to speak, and even breathe, was tough. He spent days in the intensive care unit, nearly needing a ventilator to breathe. It shocked doctors like Dr. Imran Mohammed and Dr. Ranjani Kalyan.

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“I thought, wow, he’s only 51 and he’s not moving,” Dr. Kalyan said.

Dr. Imran Mohammed echoed much of the same, “A majority of those patients at that age get better. He got worse.”

Days later, and face-to-face with his doctors for the first time, Lori’s thankful for this staff, including Dr. Mohammed, who often communicated for Rodger.

“He’d call because he knew how scared we were at home and how scared Rodger was too,” Lori said.

Scared, because Lori says this virus should be taken seriously.

“To have to live what we went through,” Lori said. “I hope no one has to.”

She’s urging people to listen to the state. Stay home. If not for you, but for everyone else.

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“The inconveniences people are having to go through,” Lori said. “It’s nothing compared to if you have to live through with a loved one in the hospital.”

It’s a message doctors at Sutter Roseville can back, too.

“Just because you are young, you may not get it,” Dr. Mohammed said. “You can die from this disease.”

That wasn’t the outcome for Rodger, who is happily recovering at home with his family after a long fifteen-day COVID-19 battle. Rodger was the first patient at Sutter Roseville to be enrolled in the remdesivir trial, overseen by the Sutter Institute for Medical Research.

His family and his doctors believe the drug made a big difference for his health and helped pushed him through.

Doctors think it was more than just this, though. They believe a dose of encouragement from his family, and from staff, helped push him forward.

“I would tell him if you get through this, you’re going to be a hospital hero for making it out of here,” Dr. Kalyan said.

The Preston family said Rodger, the ‘hospital hero,’ is very thankful to be home.