Faces of COVID-19: Serious heart condition sees mother live in fear of COVID-19

SAFETY FIRST: Alycia Jones' congenital heart condition saw her end up in the ICU last year. She is now self-isolating to protect herself from COVID-19.

SAFETY FIRST: Alycia Jones' congenital heart condition saw her end up in the ICU last year. She is now self-isolating to protect herself from COVID-19.

Images of people on Australian beaches over the weekend and news reports of fines for COVID-19 breaches frustrate and terrify mother of two Alycia Jones.

From the outside, Alycia, 33, appears to be one of the safe ones, however, nothing could be further from the truth.

Alycia has Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect, and has endured three open heart surgeries - the last in February 2019 saw her spending time in the ICU.

Alycia was due to return to Melbourne for less invasive surgery this month, however, that has been cancelled due to COVID-19. It was deemed "safer" for her to remain at home in Burnie, Tasmania.

FAMILY: Alycia Jones with children Olivia and Declan.

FAMILY: Alycia Jones with children Olivia and Declan.

"My last one (operation) was only half a success, we were in the middle of trying to come up with a plan," Alycia said.

"I guess that puts a bigger risk on me now. You have two pulmonary arteries that run from your heart to your lungs and one of mine is 80 per cent blocked, so that means that blood flow isn't getting through anymore."

Alycia describes the 'it will be right, it will be fine' attitude as "frustrating".

"I'm a daughter, I'm a wife, I'm a mother, I'm a sister, I'm a friend - stay home for me, stay home for your family - obviously it's just not the elderly at risk.

"What will happen to my kids if I get it and die, what will happen to my family?

"It's such a scary thing for people not to take seriously and it's really disheartening.

"It's frustrating, stay home and it will be over so much quicker and we'll all be able to go back out and live our lives.

"I'm feeling very frustrated that people are just mucking about and thinking it's still a bit of a joke still."

Earlier this month as talk of coronavirus increased, Alycia began to worry about leaving her house for work.

"I thought wow, I've got to do something about this."

On her GP's advice, she convinced her employers to allow her to work from home - pulling her children Declan and Olivia out of school the same day.

It was the start of a pedantic routine aimed at keeping her safe.

"It feels like six years, it's hardcore," she laughed.

"My husband is obviously working at the moment, he works in irrigation so he's out in paddocks by himself most of the time but we still have a process when he walks in the back door. The poor neighbours, he strips right off, grabs his clothes, puts them straight in the washing machine. I've got the shower running so he jumps straight into that, gives himself a wash, he's not allowed to touch anything.

"We've got disinfectant wipes to wipe down keys, phone and his lunchbox."

Despite living in self-isolation, Alycia admits she still feels very vulnerable because her husband still needs to work.

"So even though we are doing everything in our power to minimise our risk, it's still scary because I've got two small kids and if anything happens to me, that's it their lives will get turned upside down.

I'm a daughter, I'm a wife, I'm a mother, I'm a sister, I'm a friend - stay home for me, stay home for your family - obviously it's just not the elderly at risk.

"I'm still terrified. It's very isolating, you're very lonely".

With warnings that Australians should be prepared to isolate for six months, Alycia is preparing for the long haul.

"For us, we're trying to do all my medical appointments by phone at the moment, the kids will keep doing school, I'll keep working while I can ... we're just playing it day by day at the moment to see what we need to do to keep us safe."

She remains nervous and anxious.

"It is quite scary that something could happen to me, it is a massive risk that I won't bounce back or there are only a limited number of beds at our hospital and what happens if it comes down to having to pick who lives and dies.

"Do I get, 'well she's already got this problem and that problem so she doesn't get a ventilator'?

"That's one of my fears, is that they'll go she's got underlying medical issues, but this other person is nice and healthy let's go with this person because they are healthy and easier to save."

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This story 'Stay home for me' pleads 'at risk' 33-year-old mum first appeared on The Canberra Times.