Amy Herzog has had experiences from two ends of the pandemic spectrum – she is a labor and delivery nurse, as well as a coronavirus survivor.
The Montz resident had a whirlwind of a month in April, which included surprising symptoms, in-home isolation and experimental drugs.
“It all started so strangely,” the 35-year-old said.
What started in early April as typical seasonal allergies symptoms had progressed to a headache the next day.
“I called my doctor for allergies worsening and sinusitis,” she said. “He prescribed me a Z-Pak so it wouldn’t get worse … I suffer from seasonal allergies, so this wasn’t something I was unfamiliar with.”
Herzog initially experienced no sore throat, congestion, fever or chest pain, but instead said it felt like she had a head cold. Within days, however, she had lost her sense of smell and taste completely.
“I knew people who had been diagnosed with coronavirus had complained of this,” she said. “I knew this was not allergies.”
A positive COVID-19 test meant home isolation and the use of Plaquenil, also known as Hydroxychloroquine, which Herzog used under her doctor’s supervision. While she stayed isolated in her room, her husband Justin and their children – Mason, 9, and Madison, 6 – wore masks in the home.
Symptoms got worse before they got better, Herzog said, but she was able to avoid hospitalization during her illness.
“The symptoms are like a roller coaster of symptoms,” she said, explaining her symptoms included complete loss of taste and smell, head cold, migraines, body aches, GI symptoms, chest pain, chest tightness, chest discomfort, loss of appetite and depression.
Herzog said she hopes to donate plasma soon now that she is positive for the virus antibody.
Thankfully, her family has remained healthy and she is back at work.
“I’ve always wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse,” Herzog said. “It takes a special person and loving personality to be a great labor and delivery nurse and it’s a lot of hard work.”
She said work has been busy lately, and part of that has been caring for coronavirus-positive patients.
“We have had positive moms, all which have had great deliveries and went home with their babies,” Herzog said. “We treat them no different than our other patients, we just have to gear up and wear all of the PPE.”
A N95 mask, face shield, surgical mask, hair cover, gown and gloves comprise Herzog’s PPE, and she said there are special rooms dedicated to COVID-positive patients.
Herzog, who works in a Metairie hospital, said maternity patients are only allowed one visitor throughout their stay in accordance with the current state mandate.
“I think this has been the biggest change and challenge,” she said. “I feel as nurses we have given more of ourselves physically and emotionally to help moms and dads get through their labor and delivery to ensure they still have a great experience. I know it’s tough on mom’s not being able to have a big support system with them. We are used to having family and friends in the hospital awaiting a baby while mom is in labor, then there for them after delivery and visit throughout their stay.”
She said one positive to the one visitor policy, which is usually the father, is that the experience is more sacred.