21 Mar 2022

What it was like: A pregnant nurse, parent and immunocompromised student on getting Covid-19

10:20 am on 21 March 2022

Nearly half a million New Zealanders have now officially had Covid-19. A pregnant nurse, a parent and an immunocompromised student share their experiences.

A positive result of rapid antigen test is seen in this illustration photo

Photo: AFP

Lonely and scary for pregnant nurse in hospital

Nearly half a million people have now had the virus - most able to care for themselves at home.

But a few thousand have been hospitalised - including Auckland nurse, Mafi, who was about seven months pregnant with twins when she tested positive last month.

She became very unwell the night after she first got symptoms and went to hospital the next day so she could be assessed and her babies monitored.

She then became even more unwell.

"I became really short of breath, I started vomiting blood and I was just so exhausted, really weak and in a lot of pain," she said.

Mafi is used to being the one caring for patients - and her colleagues as a Nurses Organisation delegate.

When the doctor confirmed she had Covid she cried, worried for her babies.

"It was just really scary, especially the fact that I wasn't allowed to have anyone there with me, which was understandable but, still, it was quite scary," she said.

"They were trying to stabilise me because I had a really bad fever, my heart rate and my resp[iratory] rate were really high."

Covid triggered the severe vomiting she had experienced earlier in her pregnancy and she was assessed for ICU care - another frightening moment.

But Mafi was given IV fluids and medication to fight Covid-19 and she rallied.

She is double-vaxxed but had delayed getting her booster because she was very unwell earlier in her pregnancy, when it was due.

It was frustrating to hear people say Omicron is very mild, she said.

"It really annoys me because … everyone's different. It hits everyone differently," she said.

She was now home and doing well but on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy because pre-term labour is a risk.

A family's different journeys.

For most people - but not everyone - Omicron is a mild to moderate illness.

Jacqui Harema, her husband and three teens, each had a different experience.

"One of the girls, she was sick for about three days, body aches, fever, was quite lethargic the whole time. The other girl was tired, had a bit of a cough and that was about it," she said.

Her partner and her son both were noticeably fatigued, and still are - even though they've just finished their isolation.

Jacqui felt a bit like she had the flu until about day eight when she developed one of the less common symptoms - vertigo.

She first noticed it Zooming into a work meeting when she suddenly felt like she couldn't sit up.

"It was terrible. I couldn't even lift my head of the pillow without getting dizzy," she said.

"That was probably the worst for me, that constant dizziness that I just had to lie down the whole time."

Her family was an illustration of how varied the Omicron experience could be but she had the same advice for everyone.

"Even if you have mild symptoms, I would take my time and rest because, from our experiences, it has gone past the 10 days," she said.

"At work, I still get quite tired and I still have a bit of dizziness sometimes," she said.

Student's textbook case

Wellington student Abby Robinson was laying low to try to avoid Covid because she's immunocompromised, but in a flat of four that was never going to be easy.

A visitor developed symptoms and returned a positive RAT test when she was at their flat - and a few days later so did Abby.

"I didn't even have to leave the house to get infected by Covid, it was just at home," she said.

"Now two of us at the flat have tested positive and the other two haven't tested positive yet but one of them is symptomatic."

The flatmates, who were all boosted, were trying to isolate as best they could, avoiding the kitchen if they heard another person in it, she said.

Abby has textbook symptoms.

"I've had a headache, a lot of fatigue, my throats been really sore, I've been losing my voice, a cough, a sort of upset stomach as well, and really achey joints," she said.

She was feeling "pretty rubbish" but said she was also seeing how Omicron hits people differently.

"A bunch of our friends have had it and been asymptomatic but still tested positive - it's sort of like a luck of the draw thing," she said.

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