What was supposed to be a vacation away from the harsh Michigan winter turned into a nightmare for a couple from Battle Creek.
Patti Eldred and Denny Eldred spending three to four months in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a yearly tradition.
“We came about six years ago, and just loved it. Too old to be in the snow," Patti said.
They arrived Jan. 2, 2020, and were scheduled to return home on April 15.
Patti was recovering from a cosmetic surgery she underwent while on the trip. Meanwhile, COVID-19 was spreading throughout the United States.
“I wasn’t healing fast enough, and my son told me 'Don’t come here mom, it’s full of that COVID. If you can stay a little longer, do,'” she said.
The Eldreds pushed their departure to May 15 and on the night of May 14, they were packing to leave.
"And I said, 'Will you be glad to get home to Battle Creek?' And he said that he would, except he would miss the view, the gorgeous view here," Patti said. "And I turned my head for a second, and I heard a crash."
Denny suffered a stroke.
He hit his head on the wall and the concrete floor.
"And he was laying on the floor with his head, [blood] just profusely coming out, blood on the floor," Patti said.
Patti said, because of the pandemic, only a few people who hadn't already left were still staying in their condo complex.
She ran upstairs for help. Some of her remaining neighbors were able help call an ambulance, which took Denny to Hospital Medasist in Puerto Vallarta.
Denny has been there ever since. His fall led to severe brain bleeding.
“It’s been a nightmare. It’s frightening. It’s so scary," Patti said.
On May 21, Denny underwent brain surgery.
He was able to pull through, but doctors were hoping a mass on his brain doctors would dissolve, but it hasn't.
"So he’s all paralyzed on his left side," Patti said. "He says he feels better, but he’s still paralyzed. He can’t sit up, he can’t get in the wheelchair to get on an airplane to come home. So we’re stuck here. We don’t know what to do.”
Even if they could get to an airport, Denny's blood clots make flying an uncertainty.
Patti said her husband has no insurance. She said her Medicare won't cover the costs.
She's been running through her retirement fund, about $40,000 in the last week alone, just to pay hospital bills.
“And it’s half gone. It won’t take long. So I don’t know what we’re going to do," she said. "They’ll kick him out of that hospital. If you don’t have money, you’re not going to be in that hospital.”
Patti said she's trying to find another, less expensive hospital for her husband after he's done with critical care, but her main objective is to get him home.
A family friend is reaching out to the U.S. Embassy to assist in getting to their home in Battle Creek.
Patti's daughter set up a fundraiser for people to help with expenses.