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'Everything Is Just A Little Bit Harder': Sacramento Firefighter Talks Road To Recovery From COVID

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – One Sacramento firefighter is suiting up, putting his lungs to the test – but not just for his job. At just 41, he was diagnosed with COVID-19, and months later, he's still dealing with the long-term effects of the virus.

Now he's doing anything he can to get his life back.

"I had extreme body aches, fatigue, nausea, couldn't hold anything down, couldn't eat anything," Firefighter Matt Rogge said.

It was early July when Rogge was diagnosed with COVID. Fighting a 103-degree fever, he spent two weeks isolated in his trailer alone – away from his family. He lost 25 pounds in two weeks, and months later, he's still feeling lingering symptoms

"Just walking to my front yard took everything out of me," Rogge said. "Everything is just a little bit harder."

That includes not having enough energy to spend time with his kids.

"Just playing with them in the yard, jumping on the trampoline, I can't go for long periods of time," Rogge said.

By mid-August, Rogge returned to work, but his road to recovery was far from over.

"I didn't think twice about putting my gear on, grabbing the hose and going up four, five flights of stairs and now it takes a lot more effort to get that done," he said.

So Rogge realized he needed help. He started working with doctors at Mercy General on pulmonary rehabilitation – part of that therapy means showing up in full gear.

"I put my gear on and that's about 60-pounds of extra weight," he said.

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The recovery is slow and frustrating, but it's working.

"I want to be as strong as I was pre-COVID," he said. "You don't want to take that chance to see what happens."

There is no date on when Rogge will return to the field. Right now, he's working on providing COVID-19 testing to residents at senior care facilities across the area.

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