My heart sank immediately when the nurse informed us that our daughter’s nasal swab test came back positive for Covid.
Though I knew it was a possibility, my feeling was that the chances are low as she tested negative that same morning when we did the home rapid antigen saliva test on her.
This was Sunday.
Backtrack 2 days before to Friday evening, our kid’s grandparents updated us after work that my 2-year-old was unwell, she was vomiting and had a mild fever, and was unable to sleep well in the afternoon. They had kept it from us during working hours, to avoid getting us worried. That morning when we dropped her off, she was still active and happy.
She was now lethargic and unable to keep food down, but our older two children were still fine. We took the kids home, and by 9 pm, my 4-year-old too came down with a fever and said that her head hurt. Now both our daughters were ill. We did a Covid saliva antigen test on our 4-year-old, and it came back negative. We medicated the girls and put the children to bed.
The next morning, Saturday, my oldest 6-year-old son woke up with a fever. Now all three children were sick. What’s worse, I had developed a sore throat, not painful, but it was there. We did a test on my son, and on myself, and both results turned out negative. So that was that, I thought, it’s not covid.
We monitored the children that day, they were lethargic and wanted to sleep a lot. My 2 year old managed to get some appetite back and thankfully ate her meals. But I felt it strange this time, my kids had been sick before, and having a fever was not unusual, but this time they hardly had the energy for any play at all. By afternoon their fevers were high, my son recording the highest at 39.8 degrees celsius.
That night I decided to test my 2-year-old and myself again. My results came out negative.
But my youngest daughter’s test kit came out with a very faint second line.
I stared at it, for quite a while, then I consulted my husband. It was so faint that we were unsure if it was a false positive, but the possibility had been planted in my mind. We decided to take her and the kids for a nasal swab at a clinic the next day. That will be more accurate than a saliva test, and would confirm the diagnosis.
That night I had a hard time, I stared at her sleeping face while in bed, the thoughts of “What if’s” running through my mind.
I looked up on potential long-term complications in children, MIS-C or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, it’s rare, but it’s a higher possibility for post covid kids (though mostly for kids who had no symptoms during a Covid infection). I also researched for other potential long-term effects of long covid.
I often do this, look up the worst-case scenarios and digest them.
It may be a form of coping mechanism, strange as it sounds, being optimistic makes me feel worse.
When my kids were younger, when they had high fevers, I checked for meningitis, and when they had jaundice, I checked out for kernicterus. After a talk with my husband about my fears, I went to bed.
The next day, Sunday, I did one more test on my daughter, and now it came out negative. I couldn’t accept it, either we were testing wrong (though we followed the instructions to the tee), or the test kits were inaccurate, at least for this virus variant, were they not in our saliva?
After checking with a colleague from work who had recovered from Covid herself, we called up a private clinic, made an appointment, and drove all 3 kids there.
We initially did the test on my 2 year old first, and decided, that if she was negative, we would not test the other kids.
It was a drive-thru testing. We went to the back alley of the clinic, and the staff nurse came to our car and did a nasal swab on my youngest daughter.
Her results came out fast, with 2 red lines, and it was confirmed.
We made the decision to test the whole family. The results for my older kids and myself came out positive too.
While only my husband was still negative, the clinic suspected that his viral load was still low and that he should be retested in 2 days. His symptoms were the last to come out compared to the rest of us. He developed a fever that Sunday night itself and the home self-test the next Monday morning came out positive. This time, he swabbed the back of his throat instead of collecting saliva from the mouth.
We were issued a 7 days home isolation order on that Sunday itself. As the kids were napping, my fever got worse, and I sank into my own bed, defeated.
I didn’t sleep immediately, instead, I thought about how it could have happened. We managed to avoid it for 2 years, me even giving birth during the initial stage of the pandemic. Naively, I thought we could have made it out without an infection getting to any one of us.
We called up the kid’s grandparents and requested that they immediately get tested themselves via nasal swab. Their results were negative, thankfully. We called the kid’s school headmistress to inform her that the kids will be under quarantine for the week, and she informed us that the other school kid’s parents had not feedback to her on any sick children.
It was unlikely then that my daughter, patient 0, had gotten it from her grandparents, nor from her older siblings then. My husband who works in IT, had been working from home mostly that week. I was the one who had been going to the office daily, as a requirement from the company since the start of the year, with frequent self-tests conducted on individual basis, due to my work required me to be on site.
The conclusion I made was that I had brought home the virus to my family, my husband, and my kids who were too young to be vaccinated.
I felt extremely guilty.
My office had an infection rate of 50% at this point, my colleagues sitting behind me and on my side had recovered from Covid, and as I mentioned, I was almost in denial that I can catch it. I ate mostly on my own, and had my mask on at all times, except when drinking water.
I thought to myself, all the potential scenarios I could have contracted the virus that past week.
Did I get it when I had gone to the pantry to wash my coffee tumbler and had placed the cap side down on the counter, maybe the virus was on that surface? Was it because I removed and adjusted my mask while in the ladies’ washroom, the air was still, maybe a Covid positive person had sneezed a few minutes ago and I breathed it in? Did I stand too near to that person while talking, although with our masks on?
In the end, hard as it was, I had to accept the fact that we had it and had to manage the family as best as we could. I had to move on.
I educated myself on the possible complications and long covid symptoms that I may look out for them like a hawk in my kids, husband, and myself. We made meal plans arrangements and we now had 7 to 8 days of being isolated at home and unable to go out.
Fortunately, by Monday morning my kids were mostly healthy again, the virus had made its run through them and was on its way out. Only me and my husband were battling the symptoms, though not serious, it was not fun to have. As we were already had our booster shots, we had milder symptoms of sore throat, fever, some degree of headache, and a slight cough. No breathing issues, and no loss of taste or smell.
At the point of this post, it is day 6 past the positive test results, and all 5 of us are almost fully recovered. Thankfully, no long covid symptoms are detected, and we continue to pray and hope for full recovery with no side effects.
Lesson learned, is that as safe as we can be, there is only so much we can do to avoid any infection. Do I still feel guilty, yes, but I am managing it.
Our country is in transition to move to the endemic stage after 2 years, and the daily numbers, though still high, have become just a statistic at this point. But what it means is that COVID-19 is expected to be prevalent in the community, with no more lockdowns, and infection risk to be self-managed. I for one am not taking further chances with my kids for re-infection, and intend to continue to practice safety measures, as much as we reasonably can.