HONOLULU(KHON2) — It has been 11 months since Waikiki bartender Lee-Jacob “Coby” Torda contracted COVID-19. There is no doubt the virus changed his life forever, but he is grateful to be alive and said he is at peace with his new normal.
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Torda is all smiles, happy and full of energy.
“I’m actually feeling great right now,” Torda said. “I am really happy to be here.”
It is a far cry from last March when COVID-19 sent him to the hospital for 69 days. He was on a ventilator, intubated in the ICU fighting for his life.
It has been a long road to recovery for the 38-year-old and he is still battling respiratory problems.
“I’m still on oxygen, two liters. I use it when I go to sleep, or I’m walking the dogs, or I’m at the gym,” Torda said. “I wear the nose cannula and I carry a carry this my OCD backpack around.”
He goes for quarterly visits with his pulmonologist — doctors do not know if he will ever fully recover but Torda said he does not waste time with what-ifs.
“I’ve kind of come to terms with it. I’m just living in the moment right now. I’m very happy to be here with my husband, family and close friends,” he said. “I’m cherishing every moment I get to spend time with them.”
He has also learned to slow down and relax more.
“This one year felt like, like five years,” Torda explained and laughed. “There’s a lot of, you know, learning. A lot of reflecting. But overall, I mean, I appreciated what 2020 showed us — what we’re capable of, and what we can overcome.”
Torda is taking online classes and even started a new hobby.
“I just started doing couponing and clearance hunting. So that’s like, my favorite thing right now,” Torda said and laughed.
He is looking forward to going back to work and bartending again, at least part time, once renovations are completed at the bar he used to work at in Waikiki.
“I’m excited to go back to work when we do open up,” Torda said.
Torda hopes people continue to take precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
He plans to get vaccinated once he is able to and though he does not think it should be forced on anyone, he said, he hopes others will get the shot as well.
“For those who don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s your prerogative. But in the future, I don’t want to hear you saying, should have, could have, would have,” he said.