One week Haidyn was a healthy wild child, and the next week our seven-year-old couldn’t even get off the couch to go to the bathroom because he was too weak from having COVID.
He started getting sick on Saturday, coming home from a friend’s house saying he was tired and not feeling well. Getting progressively more irritable throughout the evening, he developed a fever of 103. Our older son also showed some signs of COVID, having a stuffy nose and being unable to smell or taste, so we called their doctor on Sunday, and the whole family went to Geisinger Care Works and were tested for COVID.
Our family includes the two boys, two parents and a grandfather. Everyone but Haidyn (because he was too young) was fully vaccinated. The tests came back in a few days and were positive for both boys. Our older son Kobi, only experienced slight symptoms over the next few days. Haidyn, even though he was young, was not to be so lucky.
By Tuesday, his third day of having COVID, Haidyn’s fever spiked at 104, and he was experiencing body aches, chills, and was throwing up as we rushed him to the ER. The waiting room was so full that we went back and stayed in the car until he could be seen. He was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia caused by COVID. Stabilized, the hospital full, they sent us home with instructions to keep a close eye on Haidyn’s breathing and oxygen level using one of the oxygen monitors that slides on your finger.
On Friday Haidyn’s lips were blue because his oxygen saturation was only in the 80s and we took him back to the ER. They admitted him, but there isn’t a lot they can do for such a young patient. They hooked him up to oxygen and an IV and gave him fluids, antibiotics for the pneumonia, fever reducers and nausea medication. They ran tests to make sure COVID wasn’t causing more complications, especially to his heart, which COVID has now put at risk. There was nothing more any of us or our family and friends could do except pray. The COVID just had to be allowed to run its course, and the doctors and nurses worked to support Haidyn’s system as much as they could.
It took several days to stabilize him enough to wean him off the oxygen during the day. The most difficult thing was to stabilize his breathing at night, but when that was done we were able to bring him home. We continue to monitor his oxygen level and heart rate, especially at night.
About a week after Haidyn’s discharge he had doctors’ appointments. The doctors said he will need an array of tests next month, after his body has a chance to heal more, to check for damage, especially to his lungs and heart. They say it could take him a year to fully recover, longer if he becomes a “long hauler.”
Haidyn is now happy to be back at school with his friends. His teacher was great about keeping in contact and encouraging him throughout his illness. He missed an entire month. He still tires quickly, but that sparkle of enthusiasm and playfulness can be seen in his eyes much more often now!
So what can we do to protect our young children? We thought because our family was all vaccinated Haidyn would be okay, or if he got sick it would be a slight case of COVID. We were waiting for children his age to be able to be vaccinated.
Haidyn has just finished getting the second of his shots this past weekend and says, “That’s the most important thing we can all do.” The more people who are vaccinated the fewer people who will get COVID, and those who do get it will have a less severe case!
Older brother Kobi probably brought the virus home to Haidyn from High School. So many people had COVID around that time at his High School that they closed for several days. Vaccinations – masking – social distancing – testing – quarantining as necessary… all these things make it harder to get COVID-19. None are 100% effective, but most are at least 90% effective, and a layered approach means even more protection. Few things in life are a sure thing.
To prevent getting sick from COVID; mask, get the shot, social distance, and quarantine if you don’t feel well and get tested. You can love your neighbors, or just worry about yourself. Our seven year old suffered greatly because not enough people in Lycoming County loved their neighbor enough to get vaccinated. After all Haidyn has been through he loves his friends and neighbors enough to have gotten his shots! How about you?
Josh and Stephanie Chalk are the parents of two school age boys and live in Lycoming County.