A Victorian woman is pleading for people to stay at home during the coronavirus crisis after a severe case of the flu left her husband in a coma for more than a month.
Gemma Loomans, from Melbourne, says it breaks her heart to see so many people still out and about and brushing off the virus as "just a bad flu" that will only sicken the elderly.
"Please, from someone who sat by the person they love more than anything in the world for over a month not knowing if he would wake up, please stay home," she said in a warning to friends on Facebook.
Ms Loomans' 33-year-old partner Damian developed bilateral pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (Ards) after coming down with the flu earlier this year. Severe cases of the coronavirus can also cause pneumonia and Ards.
The ordeal left Damian, who had no underlying health conditions, in a coma and hooked up to a breathing machine for four weeks, Loomans said.
He also had "tubes the size of garden hoses" inserted into each of his thighs to help keep oxygen pumping into his blood after his lungs failed.
"Ten-millimetre incision straight through the throat into the windpipe to allow breathing tube; 3 calls made by the hospital to me at night time during that period, to let me know treatments weren't working and they were running out of options, or he had developed new infections," Loomans recalled.
"Six weeks spent in ICU, 2 weeks in a recovery ward and an estimated four months at home including learning to walk, eat and talk again … 29kg of muscle wastage from being stationary in bed; nightmares and hallucinations still to this day, from the medication used to keep him sedated."
'SOME PEOPLE JUST DON'T GET IT'
More than 3600 cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed across Australia and 14 people have died.
The Australian government has imposed strict social distancing measures in an effort to slow the spread of the disease, but Loomans said some people still didn't "get it".
"The only reason Damian survived is because the resources were available … if there were no hospital beds, he would be dead," she said.
"Please, stay away from other people … don't be selfish. We thought it wouldn't happen to us either, but it did and it does.
"We had each other. People with Covid-19 are in hospital, isolated and separated from their loved ones. Imagine how alone and scared they must feel."
Loomans said her husband's illness came as the couple should have been celebrating their "miraculous pregnancy".
"The nurses knew the gender of the baby before Damian, because he was unconscious fighting for his life. He missed all of the early baby scans. Because of 'just' the flu".