Gates was in her second floor apartment when a tornado sheared off the entire floor, tossing her into debris below.
In an exclusive interview with 27 News from her bed at UW Hospital, Gates says she was disoriented, in extreme pain, and fighting off a feeling, she was close to death.
"It was just so hard," Gates tells 27 News. "I literally thought this was the end. I just kept saying, 'I don't want to die. I don't want to die,' " Gates says.
Gates was alone at the time the tornado hit, with her husband out chasing storms. Neighbor Tyler Steinbach discovered her and carried her to shelter.
"He saved my life that night," Gates says.
"I didn't want to leave her alone at all," Steinbach tells 27 News. "So I said, 'I have to pick you up, I'm going to carry you to the closest place, we're going to get shelter," Steinbach says.
Dr. Suresh Agarwal tells 27 News Gates has spinal fractures, a punctured lung, broken ribs and other injuries.
Gates Thursday was able to sit up in her hospital bed. Agarwal says she has movement in all her extremities.
"It's a miracle that she's here," her husband, Josh Gates tells 27 News. "It's a miracle she's doing as well as she is, considering what she's been through," Gates says.
Agarwal estimates as much as four months of recovery for Gates.
"It's a slow, slow process, but it's definitely going to be worth it," Gates says.
The tornado also swept away the Gates' samoyed puppy and three cats, but they say all their pets have been located.
A benefit has been set up for the Gates family. The fund is through the Dupaco Community Credit Union.
If you are interested in donating, you can send checks to the following:
Dupaco Community Credit Union
Carrie& Josh Gates Benefit
P.O. Box 179
Dubuque, Iowa 52004-0179