Charles Opperman spent 11 days in the hospital battling COVID-19. While he was being prepared for a ventilator, he sent his girlfriend, Shirley Rosevelt-Garcia, a text asking her to marry him.

Charles Opperman is a director for a software company and he lives on the outskirts of Brandon. When Hillsborough County started to open back up after shutting down from the pandemic, Opperman, like most of us, wanted to venture out and get back to normal.

“My girlfriend and I had been virtual dating from our homes since the pandemic hit and we both wanted to see each other in person,” Opperman said.

On June 13, the couple decided to do some shopping together because Opperman’s girlfriend, Shirley Rosevelt-Garcia, needed some new paddle fans.

“We wore masks and social distanced,” Opperman said. “Since we had a good day shopping, we decided to go to brunch.”

The couple went to a restaurant in South Tampa. When they arrived, no one in the restaurant was wearing masks and the restaurant was more than 50 percent full.

“We were able to get a table that was six feet away from other people and we had our masks on,” Opperman said.

By Wednesday evening of June 17, Opperman started running a temperature. When he awoke on Thursday, his temperature had risen, so he called his doctor. They had a virtual doctor’s visit and Opperman’s doctor suggested he go and have a COVID-19 test done.

“As I waited for my results, more symptoms started showing,” Opperman said. “I felt fatigued and my muscles and joints ached.”

On June 22, Opperman still hadn’t received his test results. He drove himself to a mobile testing site and while waiting in the car line, his doctor finally called him to confirm he was COVID-19 positive.

“He told me to go home, self-quarantine, stay hydrated and rest,” Opperman said. “I did this, but on Thursday, June 25, I started coughing up mucus mixed with blood.”

Opperman went to an urgent care facility and was given a chest X-ray. It showed his lungs were filling up with fluid. He was told he needed to go to the hospital.

“When I woke up Friday morning, I was getting worse, so I went to the hospital,” Opperman said. “Since I didn’t arrive at the hospital via an ambulance, I was told I had to wait in my car until they were ready for me.”

He ended up waiting in his car for over an hour before he was able to go into the ER to be admitted.

Opperman’s health continued to decline. He was moved to ICU and was being prepped for a ventilator.

“I asked for my cell phone and I quickly texted my girlfriend and told her that once I survived this and I got better, I was going to marry her,” Opperman said. “I then texted my girlfriend’s daughter and asked her for her permission to marry her mom. She said yes. When I get better and things are back to normal, we are going to have a really big engagement celebration.”

Opperman came home from the hospital on July 6 and is getting better everyday.