Gosselin was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late December and spent 10 days in the hospital, where his fevers spiked and his oxygen dropped. He joined Dr. Oz on the show to talk about the moment he knew something was terribly wrong and the fear he has now over the unknown future of his health.
"One day I just felt like crap and the next thing you know I was diagnosed with COVID," Gosselin said. "It's real."
The 43-year-old dad said he developed a dry cough around Dec. 21 and felt "a little off." By the time he got home from work the next day, he said, he had a fever of about 102 degrees F. He didn't notice any difficulty breathing, so he just went to sleep it off. The next day, he was excessively sweating and experiencing what felt like flu symptoms. So he went to a clinic to get a COVID-19 test.
As three days passed, his temperature continued to rise, but Gosselin still didn't think he had COVID-19. He was still waiting for the results of his test. But on Dec. 26, Gosselin said, he lost his senses of taste and smell — telltale signs that doctors have said indicate a coronavirus infection.
"When I lost my taste and smell, then I knew I had it," he said.
He finally went to the hospital two days later on Dec. 28, when his fever had nearly reached 105 degrees F.
Gosselin said he sat in a wheelchair in a packed hospital waiting room before being put on a gurney and wheeled to a hallway, waiting again, this time for a temporary room. After some blood tests, Gosselin was given rounds of antibiotics, steroids and COVID-19 antibody infusions. Once he had a permanent room, there was just a lot of sleeping.
"It was just surreal. I didn't even realize why I was there 'til like three days later," he said.
He was put on forced air, which Gosselin described as something similar to a C-PAP machine that's "super uncomfortable" and "jams" air into your lungs.
Gosselin said he did his best to follow all the advice of the medical staff, which included sleeping on his side and taking medicine to prevent blood clots.
"It was a constant medical routine," he said.
His days also included blood draws and lab tests. He even had to use bed urinals and bedside commodes, because he was too weak to get up and use the bathroom. Telling Dr. Oz of his experience, Gosselin described a situation that was actually pretty dire.
His doctor told him that "one more day, I probably would have been vented," Gosselin said. The death rate in situations like this goes up after a ventilator is introduced.
"I didn't think about dying at all. I think about it now, after the fact, because I have time to think about it. There, I was just concentrating on breathing, ... eating, being healthy, being mentally healthy, because no one can visit you," Gosselin said.
Even as he struggled to breathe in the hospital, Gosselin hadn't sent the news to his estranged ex-wife Kate and the six of their kids who live with her. "Unless Hannah told then," he said referring to their 16-year-old daughter who lives with him, that part of his family was unaware of his grave circumstances. In fact, he said, he "didn't let anyone know." He just wanted to get better.
"I just wanted to focus on my health, getting better and coming to grips and accepting the fact that I actually got COVID-19," he said.
Even though he's home now, Gosselin is still not in the clear. He carries oxygen with him, though he doesn't always have to use it. He dreads walking up the stairs in his house, and he can't even take the trash out. And he's concerned about any possible long-term damage that's been done to his lungs and the rest of his body.
"Those long-term things are more fearful for me because I'm a very active person," Gosselin said, adding that it's the future he's focused on now, including when it comes to his family.
"I hope that one day I can be part of your life," he said, speaking of his estranged children. "I'm glad that I get a second chance. I was more concerned about myself in the hospital and getting better and getting back to my family. I miss them," he said.
These are the things, he said, his diagnosis has put into perspective for him.
"What's really important vs. all the little stupid things that upset you through the day or the week. It doesn't really matter. My ideology and thinking moving forward — even career-wise and life-wise — it's gonna be more family-focused," he said. "Things are slower now for me, recovering from COVID. So I'm thinking about things more specifically than on a broad spectrum."