Hospitalized for more than three months, a Duncanville man is urging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – and not be as stubborn as he was.
An avid Dallas Cowboys fan and a father of six, car salesman and mechanic Robert Figueroa was always full of life.
His wife La'Nette Hernandez is a medical assistant at UT Southwestern and worked extra hours at COVID-19 vaccine clinics.
"I was just happy for all the patients that were there and people getting vaccinated, and I was always hoping that one day my husband would be in that line,” Hernandez said.
Even though she and the children are all vaccinated, she said Robert was stubborn and refused.
"He was just against it,” she said. “We would have conversations. We sometimes even had little arguments because I would beg him to get vaccinated and he was against it."
Then, in September, he got infected and collapsed at home before going to the hospital.
"I lost 75 pounds. I was nearly dying,” Figueroa, 37, said in a Zoom interview from his hospital room. “I was pretty much a vegetable at one point."
His wife said he immediately regretted his decision not to get a shot.
"The first thing he told me when he could talk to me was that he was sorry and that he's so stupid for not listening and he wishes he would have gotten vaccinated,” Hernandez said.
"I highly regret it now,” he said. “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever gone through in my life.”
Unable to walk, his lungs scarred from pneumonia, he now knows he was getting the wrong advice about the vaccine.
"I was just listening to the things online,” he said. “People would tell me not to get it."
Robert's fancy pickup sits out front of the family's home. The Dallas Cowboys flag still flies proudly on the porch.
Hernandez said the family has exhausted their savings paying the mortgage and bills the past three months.
"It has just devastated us,” she said. “I mean there's not even words to explain what we've been through."
Figueroa’s hospital room is decorated with more Cowboys gear.
And on the wall, family photos.
"That's our family and who we used to be,” Hernandez said, pointing to the pictures. "My kids, they don't want anything for Christmas. They tell me want their dad home, and that's all they want."
His oxygen levels are improving and the family is hopeful he could be home in a month or so.
"I feel like I'm almost there,” he said. "It's just learning how to walk. Learning how to maintain my oxygen as I walk, as I talk, so I can have a normal life again."
Until that happens, his 13-year-old son is mowing the yard and doing other duties his father used to do.
Figueroa and his wife now agree on the importance of getting vaccinated.
“If he would have got the shot, all of this could have been avoided,” she said.