Family overcome with gratitude this holiday after mother, father survive battle with COVID-19

Posted at 5:04 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 19:04:22-05

(WXYZ) — A local mom who spent 133 days in the hospital battling COVID-19 is filled with gratitude this holiday season. As she fights to walk again and get her old life back, Gloria Finzel has a powerful message for all of us.

The Finzel family has never been so grateful to be together for the holidays.

“I’m doing so much better, physically and mentally,” Gloria said.

She got the coronavirus in late March. After her husband Jim took her to the hospital, within days she was transferred to Beaumont Wayne and put on a ventilator.

At one point her daughter Caitlyn was told she had a 90% chance of dying. So Caitlyn got Gloria airlifted to Michigan Medicine where Gloria was put on a lifesaving treatment called ECMO.

“I’m just so grateful for the people in my life that helped me help my mom," Caitlyn said. "I’m so grateful for Michigan Medicine helping my mom. I’m so grateful that she’s here and she’s so dedicated to her recovery."

Months of being unconscious and so close to death took their toll on the 60-year-old librarian from Farmington Hills. She is learning how to walk and manage stairs again, and tasks that she used to take for granted are now celebrated.

“I’m so thankful, of all my little things I accomplish,” Gloria said. “I was so happy to be able to walk up into the kitchen and get my water bottle filled on my own.”

Gloria now relishes being able to stand up to let the family dogs outside – a task that was too difficult a few months ago.

Jim Finzel also had COVID-19 while Gloria was hospitalized. Now they both urge everyone to keep wearing masks and not to let your guard down during the holidays.

“Gloria through the grace of God is now back with us," Jim said. "But as you can see she’s not there yet. She’s not 100%."

Gloria adding, “I didn’t walk for months! So it’s much, much more than a little simple flu."

Through the hardship of Gloria’s COVID-19 battle, angels have emerged, including a prayer chain that included people from Italy to North Dakota.

“There are friends of friends – and they’re still praying for me. Because I say, please keep it going,” said Gloria through tears.

Jim adding, “It was an incredible outpouring of support."

As the Finzel’s take stock of their many blessings this holiday season, one pandemic side effect has been clear: Gloria’s illness brought this close-knit family even closer.

Caitlyn and her brother Jimmy take turns taking care of mom while dad is working. And they’re all looking forward to a happy and healthy new year.

“I just hope that people can find hope in this really dark and uncertain time and see the light at the end of the tunnel and just stay safe,” Caitlyn said.

The Finzel family is especially grateful to all of the health care heroes who not only saved her life but have worked tirelessly for so many months to help so many people in our community.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.