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Arkansan begs people to wear masks as he tries to survive 'brutal' aftermath of COVID-19

Although John Kunkel is free of COVID-19, he's still suffering from blood clots, muscle loss, chest pains, a painful fungus in his mouth, and more.

BATESVILLE, Ark. — Doctors tell a Batesville man he’s beat COVID-19, but he says his fight is far from over.

"My biggest regret is that I did not wear a mask,” said John Kunkel, a Batesville man and COVID-19 victim.

RELATED: 78% of COVID-19 patients had heart damage after recovery, study finds

The coronavirus has taken John Kunkel on a journey.

On June 30, his fight began with high fever, coughs, dry mouth, chills, and trouble breathing.

He's since put the virus behind him, but now he's faced with the aftermath.

"It’s now the side effects from COVID-19, which are quite brutal,” said Kunkel.

Since July 12, Kunkel has been in and out of the hospital and diagnosed with double pneumonia, and now his symptoms have far worsened.

Just Thursday, he was rushed back to the hospital with a 40% oxygen level.

"Now, I've got blood clots in my right lung and possibly in my legs that they are treating,” said Kunkel. “My chest hurts. It’s hard to breathe.”

When he glances down at his hands, he's reminded of the micro-clots that have formed on the tips of his fingers, causing more pain than he can bear.

"It's almost like pins are sticking them if you put pressure on them,” said Kunkel.

He also formed a fungus which has left painful sores in his mouth and throat.

Because of that, he hasn't been able to eat much and says he's lost 23 pounds.

"There's a lot of muscle loss,” said Kunkel. “Physical therapy just came in, so we are starting to put together a plan for that."

Kunkel is still fighting for a single breath and doesn't know when he'll be healthy again, but hopes his fight opens hearts and eyes to the reality of COVID-19.

RELATED: 7-year-old recovering from battle with COVID-19 after 12 days on ventilator

"It's not political, it's not a hoax. We as a community, as a state, need to come together with humility,” said Kunkel.

Kunkel is 47 years old and says he did not have any severe underlying health issues before catching COVID-19.

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