Everything came crashing down for Michael Donovan on Tuesday night when COVID stopped him in his tracks.
“I don't know what happened, I lay down on my bed, and next minute, from my toes to my head was aches and pains," he told NITV News.
“I was in a fever, sweat was in my eyes I couldn't see, it was stinging my eyes.
"It was that terrible. I was that scared, I was crying.
"That night was something I will never forget.”
Michael, an Indigenous educator and a popular musician, is one the first people in western NSW to be infected with the virus.
He doesn’t know where he got it from and said he has been working from his Dubbo home for months because of the region's mice plague.
There are serious fears for the western region, with 42 cases since Wednesday, and growing.
Until this weekend, few members of the communities had been vaccinated, despite Indigenous Australians being listed as vulnerable groups and a vaccine priority.
‘It’s real. I’m living it.’
Michael Donovan said he had been diligently wearing a mask and using hand sanitiser.
After he was seriously ill on Tuesday night, he took a COVID test on Wednesday morning, and got the positive result on Thursday morning. His wife Connie Ah See has also since tested positive.
“My family was just in shock, all dumbfounded,” he said.
His daughter encouraged him to share his experience so that others in the community would take the virus more seriously, so he posted on social media.
In fact, Michael said he had been reluctant to be vaccinated before his experience. But he’ll now get it as soon as he is able.
“A lot of people are saying ‘no, I'm not going to get the jab’,” Michael said.
“A lot of people ... don't think it is real.
“I've got nephews and nieces that thought, ‘no, no-one in our family's gonna get it’.
“My cousin rang me and she said, 'Michael, thank you for putting that on Facebook because now I will show my nephews and nieces, that it is real, your Uncle has got it, and your Aunty has got it'.
“It's hard. Very hard.
“It's real, and this is real as it gets.”
Michael said he has been overwhelmed by the response to his post, receiving a number of messages not only from family and friends, but strangers from across the country.
'It is scary’
Michael said Tuesday was the scariest day of the virus so far, but he’s also lost his sense of smell, and taste, and battled regular fevers.
“I jumped in a bath and tried to warm myself up and I couldn't do that,” he said.
“My back was aching, actually it’s still aching.
“Nurofen and lemsip takes the pain away, but it does come back. It does come back.
“It is scary, What I went through on Tuesday night, I wouldn't wish for anyone to have, or to go through
“And that's the scariest part - if that's what it feels like to have this virus, then I wouldn't wish it on anyone.”
Take responsibility, do the right thing.
Michael said NSW Health had been in regular contact, including for hours of contact tracing, and to drop off grocery supplies.
Police officers have also been checking in to make sure the couple is staying home, under COVID-19 restrictions.
He urged members of the Dubbo and western NSW community to take responsibility and do the right thing to protect the wider community.
“A lot of us need to be diligent. Use a mask, make sure you use that sanitiser,” he said.
“Always sanitise your baskets and shopping trolleys, do the social distancing and make sure you do use those QR codes as well.”