As a Levin father lay in a pool of sweat on a couch in the lounge, fighting for breath, his only thoughts were for his wife and children.
The man, who did not want to be named, had unknowingly contracted Covid-19 during a family trip overseas. Despite immediately going into self-isolation on their return, his worst fears were realised when his health began to deteriorate.
"You wouldn't wish it on your worst enemy," he said.
A few days later, he complained of a headache. He was finding it hard to concentrate, and knew something wasn't right. He carried on with odd jobs, like mowing the lawns, but by that afternoon he started to cough, his body began aching and his temperature spiked.
"I was as crook as a dog," he said.
Deep down, he knew he had Covid-19. He rang the Healthline and was instructed to visit his local doctor to get tested. He sat in the carpark for an hour before two nurses in protective gear took him to a tent around the back.
The test results were positive.
"I didn't realise it had two peaks. You start to come right and then it smashes you again," he said.
"It just smashes you ... just the brain fog. You can't concentrate on anything. You can't focus on anything, and there is this horrible metallic taste in your throat.
"I love coffee, but couldn't bear the taste if it, and cough ... constantly coughing. Not a productive cough, you just keep coughing, and my guts was so sore after five or six days of that, night and day ... absolute agony."
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On the second wave, he started to have trouble breathing and was admitted to Palmerston North Hospital, where he was told he was their first case of Covid-19.
"I think it must have been scary at first, but there were a couple of nurses that took the bull by the horns. They treated me like I was a king and couldn't have asked for better treatment. They were absolutely fantastic," he said.
He was given intravenous antibiotics for a lung infection and he was considered well enough to go home little more than a day later.
Slowly, the coughing began to subside and the brain fog began to lift. He had a sore throat for the best part of a week and while it was still hard to talk, even now, he was confident he was over the worst.
"The voice is still a bit buggered but it's better than it was. I couldn't talk at all," he said.
"I've still got the odd cough but I'm much better now. It's nice to feel normal again."
Incredibly, he was in a unique position to compare Covid-19 to swine flu, having contracted that virus 10 years ago, resulting in permanent hearing loss in his right ear.
"Swine flu was a walk in the park compared to this. It's insidious," he said.
"You just have no energy. You haven't even got thought. That's the bit that got me. You were just existing. I just kept saying 'you are going to beat this - you are going to beat this'."
The couple were aware of the virus before they left for their holiday. They considered cancelling the trip, but at that stage any concern was minimal and there were no reported cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
It was only after they had left New Zealand that worldwide alarm grew, when world health officials began to label it a pandemic.
"We thought it wasn't bad enough at that point to pull the pin and I said 'let's just go. We'll be okay'," he said.
"It was while we were away that everything started to ramp up."
On their return flight to New Zealand three weeks ago, one of their tour party had a nagging cough that was irritated by the air conditioning, and began to complain of shortness of breath.
It was enough to send panic through the plane and turn the flight on its head.
"People started looking at us like we were lepers," he said.
He said the on flight Air New Zealand staff were "unbelievably professional" in what must have been trying circumstances.
"They were absolutely fabulous. I saw one of them at end of the flight fall back in her seat and burst into tears," he said.
Stress and fear had brought out the worst in people. No one would use the toilet they came out of.
"I couldn't believe the ... behaviour. That was quite telling for me," he said.
What made it worse is that they were unable to get off the plane for a long period once it docked.
"There was genuine fear once the plane had landed. We couldn't get off until the paramedic had checked her out," he said.
Once they were off the plane, they were required to join a queue and fill out an extra form related to Covid-19. Everyone was made acutely aware of what they had to do next once they had left the airport, he said.
"There could be no doubt in anyone's mind that you had to self-isolate," he said.
"Everyone knew exactly what was expected of us. Absolutely no one could say they didn't know what was expected. If you didn't understand, you had to be a complete fool.
"We had no symptoms, but we kept to ourselves just in case, and that's exactly what we were told to do. We went straight home."
When his wife tested positive for the virus after initially returning a negative result, they had genuine concern for the safety of their children.
"One of them is at that hugging stage and couldn't accept that we just couldn't do that. We did our best to create a bubble within a bubble," he said.
They went about diligently wiping every surface and were constantly washing their hands.
"You have no idea. I was only just managing to deal with it and fortunately my wife didn't get it as bad."
Luckily, their children have shown no signs of having contracted the virus, and were less likely to with every passing day.
The most stressful part was thinking that their children might have been infected, or that they both became so unwell they may have been unable to care for them.
"I was shit-scared. We were going to have serious issues looking after the kids. What were we going to do? It was certainly in the back of your mind and we never actually came up with a solution, to be fair," he said.
He had managed to keep a diary, and although some entries were extremely brief, it helped to mark progress as his health improved.
"It was just a few notes, but you look back and realise it was important because you couldn't remember. You are a zombie," he said.
One medication that helped alleviate his symptoms was Panadol, he said. There was a notable lessening of pain in the immediate hours after a dose, and it seemed to subdue the coughing attacks.
The family were soon expected to be given the all clear and as far as they were aware, they were now immune to the strain of Covid-19 they had contracted.
Looking to the future, he couldn't wait to be part of a social gathering once coronavirus eventually passes.
"I just want to hang out with people and look them in the eye, not on a screen," he said.