By: Melissa Lynch
COVID doesn’t affect kids, right? That’s what we thought at the beginning of this pandemic.
We had just moved, and local schools were in virtual and hybrid learning mode. We needed the internet line run to our house still, so we went to a public place for WiFi access. There were only about 7 other students in the building. Physical distancing was in place, but masks were not required indoors for gatherings of less than 10 people at that time.

Within 3 days, we learned that one of the children in the building had tested positive for COVID. Within another 3 days, our 11-year-old daughter, Wednesday, started having mild symptoms of COVID. As a precaution, her doctor arranged for care in a virtual hospital for COVID-positive kids. Her symptoms remained mild: headaches, loss of smell, extreme fatigue. I was monitoring her vitals every two hours and reporting to the virtual hospital 3 times a day.

There were only 3 days that were a little risky. Wednesday’s oxygen levels dropped into the 70s, so she was given albuterol treatments every 4 hours. Her breathing stabilized, and she was released from the hospital to resume normal activities and school. We didn’t realize that our journey had only just begun.
Wednesday only got to return to school one day before the lethargy returned. She saw her primary care doctor and was diagnosed with Post-Acute Covid-19. The lethargy, along with headaches, extreme fatigue and intermittent low-grade fevers, lasted through December.

In January, her cardiologist cleared her to return to normal physical activity. She tried to ease back into cheerleading, but after 3 weeks came home from practice feeling lethargic. She spiked a 103.4 fever and could not get out of bed for 3 days.

Wednesday was unable to keep up even with the virtual classes, falling asleep wherever she sat. We pulled her from a structured school environment to give her the flexibility needed for medical reasons, and homeschooled her. During homeschool, we realized that she was not retaining what she was learning; she could watch a documentary and not remember anything about it.

She had been an Honor Roll student at an award-winning magnet school who tested above her grade level in several subjects. Now, she couldn’t even take notes. Her cognitive levels in learning were soon showing her at a 31 percentile and 2 grade levels behind.

Wednesday, now 12, has met testing protocols for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) 3 times. She’s been diagnosed with Post-Exertional Malaise and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Since January, she has had 23 relapses of post-COVID symptoms. They average about 2 weeks apart. Every relapse seems different with new symptoms each time.

She is declining. At this writing, she has swollen lymph nodes and a 103.2 fever. She is dealing with cardiac symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, chest pressure, fainting and major fluctuations in her blood pressure. She has gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and abdominal pain, and neurological issues like loss of feeling in her lower extremities. She recently experienced a seizure.

My once happy and energetic child’s eyes now cloud over. She glitches like a computer rebooting during normal everyday tasks.

As we’ve learned all too well, COVID-19 does affect children. Even kids who had no symptoms, or only mild symptoms while infected, can develop the debilitating symptoms of Long COVID. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

Melissa Lynch, CMA, RMA, is the USA Lead Director for the international parent organization Long Covid Kids.