Anthony is 6 years old and loves Minecraft! He is in Kindergarten, thinks numbers are really cool, loves to learn about natural disasters like Tsunamis. He has played t-ball and is interested in Karate because he loves ninjas!
Anthony was the first person in our home who we noticed was sick. He was only 5 years old at the time and said he didn’t feel well and spent the evening in bed. The next day he still wasn’t himself but seemed a lot better.
The rest of the family got sick and tested positive for COVID. We didn’t test Anthony because he is so little. But Anthony complained the “the grocery store messed up ALL of this food!” when he lost his smell and taste.
Recognizing Long Covid
Anthony’s illness was very mild and uneventful, but weeks later, he still complained that he didn’t feel well on-and-off. His complaints were never detailed enough to help though he said “not good” or “sick.” But he wouldn’t tell us which parts of his body bothered him.
A few months in when we realized that he has not played with his toys in a long time we took him to his pediatrician. They ran some blood work, and some of values were high, and some low. But they said it was non-descriptive. The doctor encouraged us to get Anthony outside daily and we did. We also got him into baseball and swim lessons, physical therapy and occupational therapy to help with some of the milestones he had fallen behind on.
By month 6 he seemed to bounce back and it made us realize how differently he was behaving.
Unfortunately, the fatigue came back and was accompanied by body pain and low fevers 24 hours after he would do a lot of activities. On his bad days, Anthony just lays around all day. At 8 months we went back to the pediatrician to talk about Long Covid but he told us they didn’t know if it was happening to children (July 2021.)
We eventually got Anthony to a Rheumatologist who told us that Anthony is very hypermoble which may contribute to the body pain. He looked at his rashes and told us how many with hypermobility are more sensitive. He prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to see if we could help relieve the body pain and it has. We also decided to take a break from the extra activities to give him some rest while the COVID cases are high.
Anthony tires-out very quickly when he does plays. He can take days to recover from more physical activities like trick-or-treating or going to the play ground. He says “I need a break” often and changes what he was doing, physical and mental.
Anthony is doing cyber school because our public school does not require masks and it is too risky for him to get COVID again. There were no vaccines in the beginning of the 2021 school year, and even though he was allowed to wear a mask, there was no way to make sure he would. No matter what, he would have to be unmasked to eat with many children in an unventilated lunch room.
Anthony is missing out on in-school experiences, due to the lack of safety precautions.
He was able to be vaccinated in December 2021 and we were hopeful that he would be able to attend school in-person for the first time in the fall, but lately we are seeing that the vaccine isn’t as protective against transmission for the 5-11 age group as we have hoped.
We also have concerns if Anthony will be able to make it through a full day of in person school, we have met many kids with Long Covid who cannot.
We are scared for our son’s future and wish that the community would support us by doing what they could to protect the vulnerable.
16 months later, and I wish that doctors could tell us what expect for Anthonys future.
– How risky is it for him to get COVID again?
– Will he ever return to his previous level of activity? It is too painful for us to consider what life will be like if he doesn’t.
We need more research to improve Anthony’s quality of life and prepare for the future.