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Surviving COVID: Pearland couple opens up about scare

Belinda and Ernest Galindo say they have a new appreciation for life after a scare with COVID-19 last March. Now, they're reflecting on the last year of their lives.

PEARLAND, Texas — One year ago, we were hearing about the first coronavirus cases in the Houston area. A couple from Pearland was among the first to test positive.

“I’m back to normal, thanks to God," Belinda Galindo said.

For Belinda and Ernest Galindo, the last year has been about surviving.

“I didn’t know how to use a fork. I couldn’t walk because I had the traec and the ventilator, my vocal cord was affected," she said.

Last February they left on a trip that was on their bucket list.

“A friend of ours ... making a trip to Egypt, a river cruise, a Nile river cruise vacation and I said, 'Yeah, sign us up,'" Ernest said.

They flew to Spain, then Egypt. There were four of them traveling together and eventually they would all test positive for COVID-19. It was the Galindos, his sister, and her husband.

“Go tour the pyramids, the ruins and all that kind of stuff, it was really, really great," Ernest Galindo said.

No one felt sick until the flight home.

“She (Belinda) started coughing on the airplane at the terminal, getting into the airplane," Ernest Galindo said.

They returned to Houston on March 14. A few days later Belinda knew something was wrong.

“I couldn’t get up from bed. It was just coughing and I was just drenched (in sweat) as if I had taken a shower," Belinda Galindo said.

She went to urgent care and got tested, but when she went home to quarantine and wait for results, things got worse.

“I literally told her I don’t know what to do, she’s falling out, she’s fainting, I can’t handle this," Ernest Galindo said.

So, he rushed her to the hospital.

“They laid me on the bed. I closed my eyes and I didn’t know of myself until six weeks later," Belinda Galindo said.

She was intubated. Ernest did daily virtual visits to check-in, but it was a grueling 58 days in the hospital. When she finally came home on May 22, her neighbors in Pearland gave her quite the surprise.

“It was amazing, it really was, to be able to come home," Belinda Galindo said.

But there was a lot to catch up on while she was gone. She found out a new grandchild was coming and she was shocked by the loss of her brother-in-law Hilbert Nunez, a retired Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy, who was with her in Egypt.

“It’s so sad, I just looked at them, I said, 'I thought I was the only one who got sick,'" she said.

Over the last year, Belinda Galindo has spent countless hours in physical therapy.

“I didn’t want to eat when I first got home," she said.

She also said she experienced hair loss. Through her side throughout it all was her husband.

“He did not let me stop, he said you’re not going to bed, you’re not going to be in bed all day," she said.

KHOU asked the Galindos if they regretted taking the trip.

“In the beginning, I thought about it and I thought, 'I could have gotten COVID here,'" she said.

"It's just luck of the draw," Ernest Galindo said.

They said determination, prayer and family helped them get through it. They still have their love for each other and now hope that comes with a new generation.

“Appreciate life," Belinda Galindo said.

"Be kind, talk to your family, because you never know. A lot of people got COVID and didn’t make it are missed," Ernest Galindo said.

The Galindos have both fully recovered and are vaccinated. They encourage others to do so when they can.

As for the lifting the mask mandate in Texas, they say they will continue to do what they've done for the past year: Wear a mask and stay away from crowds. They believe it's working.