NASHVILLE, Tn. (WTVF/CBS NEWSPATH) -- Tennessee's WTVF was granted unprecedented access inside an ICU unit to speak with someone still recovering from the effects COVID but no longer contagious.  

Joe Gammon from Lascassas recounted his ordeal from his hospital bed in Ascension Saint Thomas West hospital. The 44-year-old showed off his collection of pictures on poster board on the wall across from him.  

"My wife made this collage," Gammon said. "That's my family, my beautiful family."

The father of six said he’s not a fan of labels. For one, he said he was never completely against the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I've never been an anti-vaxxer, I don't believe in being an anti-vaxxer, I wouldn't encourage people to be an anti-vaxxer, I wouldn't shame someone because they got a vaccine,” he said.

A frequent listener of talk radio, he heard there was a COVID vaccine shortage, so he said he decided not to get vaccinated.

“I didn't want to be the one person who went ahead of somebody who needed it more than me,” said Gammon.

During the later months of the pandemic, there was no shortage of COVID vaccine. Gammon contracted COVID two months ago.

“For an active 44-year-old man, I never would have guessed I would be in this scenario," Gammon said.

Gammon was taken off of an ECMO machine Tuesday morning. The machine acts essentially as an artificial external lung. It's a machine that medical professionals said most patients never get off of.

Even as one of the lucky ones, Gammon said he isn't going to tell you to go get a shot; he said he knows how it feels being told what to do. Instead, he's asking, just go talk to your doctor.

"I think the regret I have is, I didn't go to my primary care physician to find out what his opinion is," he said.

Now, Gammon is focusing on getting better, for the people who love him most.

"Think about your family," Gammon said. "What would your family do if you got this sick and you didn't make it? For me, I could not imagine leaving this world at 44, with a wife who has to raise four daughters, it wouldn't be fair."

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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