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SAN DIEGO — A man who grew up in San Diego is warning his hometown about what a serious case of coronavirus actually looks like.

The Torrey Pines High School graduate now lives in Seattle and has just suffered through 17 days of an excruciating illness.

“By Friday night my lungs completely filled up with fluid…there was a sense of drowning. It was a terrible feeling, and so isolating,” said Dan Paul, who is currently the director of the Humane Society in Washington.

According to Paul, his symptoms came on extremely strong. The first night pushed him to his limits. “It was the first time I realized this disease can kill,” he said.

The 40-year-old survived cancer in his youth and knew he was a higher-risk patient, but he declined to head into the hospital, not wanting to occupy an in-demand respirator or cause more issues for an already stressed hospital system. Instead, Paul slowed his breathing as best he could and tried to stay calm. “Just take a step back and get my breathing under control, and then set a marker. If it gets worse than this, I might need to take drastic actions. It’s all about flattening the curve and staying home,” he said.

Though Paul is now on the road to recovery, he said he is still tired. Most of all, he wants to share his story as a reminder that people should not take coronavirus lightly.