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Coronavirus: “My child tested negative for COVID-19, but got MIS-C”

By on May 8, 2021 0 30 Views

Our tryst with COVID-19 has been nothing less than a serial killer.

As a wife of a doctor who has been in the thick of this pandemic, the word ‘Coronavirus’ has almost become part of normal parlance in our lives. Last year emotions gravitated from shock, confusion, depression, sense of horror to slowly moving into a quiet acceptance. This year however started with hope! When I used to be alone with my thoughts, it used to cross my head ‘gosh thank god we got saved from this’ or ‘really how did we get so lucky’. And whilst my husband continued to cure afflicted patients with a steely resolve, I moved into a sort of normal way of living. I’m going to admit I almost thought people with excessive paranoia were being really ‘silly’.

Until it laid its foot on my doorstep! I have two children – a 16-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. As a family, we have been very vigilant with my daughter. Scheduled to give her ICSE board exams, we were excessively careful about not exposing her. Hence no going out, no touching parcels, no interacting with anyone. Her exams were due to commence in May and since the format was to physically appear for them, we took extra care. As far as my 11-year old son, hard to entirely confine, I was ready to relax the rules a bit. A couple of playdates, going down to the park, that was all.

April 14th was just a normal day in our lives. We got up in the morning. My daughter continued her day with her exams looming like an invisible cloud. My husband was as usual attending to a ton of very frantic patients since things in the country had begun spiralling out of control. My son was as busy with his school and I was as usual oscillating between work calls, kids and housework. We finished dinner and ended our day with some usual fam time.

Around 3 am, my daughter came into the room saying she was feeling very unwell. We checked her temperature and realized she had a fever so we gave her paracetamol. She had already started feeling cold and shivery. At around 8 am she had lost her sense of smell and taste. It was inevitable, the test was just a formality. We knew she had tested positive. We isolated her and quarantined ourselves. Luckily by the second/third day, she had started feeling better.

At around 2 am on April 23rd (around 8-9 days later after my daughter was isolated), my son woke us up saying he was feeling extremely uneasy. There was no fever or any other symptoms; just an uneasy feeling. We assumed he might have been exhausted and put him back to bed. He is a child who has an incredible abundance of energy and tends to use every ounce of it. Something was off the next morning but nothing really alarming or worrying. The fever started creeping by around 10 am and it continued to rise. Within the next hour, he had a fever bordering on 102-103 F. Our initial reaction was that he had also probably tested positive. The current viral strain was affecting entire families and this was probably no exception. On Saturday he continued with the high fever. We were administering paracetamols round the clock, cold compressions, all night monitoring, force-feeding, trying multiple ways of distraction but he continued to remain listless and completely depleted of any energy. Sunday also passed in a similar fashion. COVID fever has a cycle break after 3-4 days so we presumed that it would eventually start ebbing. Nevertheless, on Monday, we decided to do a battery of blood tests and the RTPCR just so we rule out all possibilities. The fever was continuing to rage. His reports showed that he tested negative for COVID, which was baffling because then we were manoeuvring in a territory that needed a re-evaluation. On Tuesday he woke up with no fever, but a huge swelling on his neck. We were pretty sure that since the fever cycle had broken he was on the mend. However, he had bloodshot eyes and a rash all over his body. He was throwing up persistently and could just not retain anything that he was consuming. He was then suspected of having a bad viral infection with a secondary bacterial infection. It was a relief to know that this was ‘nothing to worry about, but he would just not wake up, engage or interact with anyone. He continued to remain completely unresponsive. On Wednesday afternoon he developed severe diarrhoea and vomiting. We got one more blood report to determine his IGG levels. This was a precautionary blood report to rule out a few assumptions. The report was a shocker. His counts were 20 times higher than what was the acceptable range. That’s when everything took a volcanic turn. The doctors asked us to admit him to the hospital immediately or his condition would turn extremely serious.

What was the Diagnosis?
He had developed MIS-C. If you look it up, it is rare but dangerous. For a layman like me, it’s a post COVID complication that affects children and their organs. What was shocking and really stunned us is that he never had COVID. All reports were consistently showing him to be negative. However much to our utter shock, he had been affected by COVID 4 weeks back. Completely asymptomatic. No symptoms at all, no signs, absolutely zero change physically or in behaviour. We had no clue and hence was undetected, unnoticed and untreated. Children in certain cases slip into MIS-C 3-4 weeks after COVID. My son was well into it, his body developed a multi-organ inflammation that could affect his vital organs including the heart and the kidneys.

He was admitted to the hospital immediately. Since then he has been on Intravenous Immunoglobulin, a series of injections, blood thinners, steroids, IV drips, has had to do a 2D ECHO not to mention the complete emotional trauma that a child has to go through in such an intimidating environment. The singular objective was to bring his vitals under control. It took 3 whole days to bring him under control. A child of 11 can only take so much. We were told that if he would not have been admitted when we did, we would have ‘missed the boat’. And we shall not go to what that boat would have been. As a mother, It is hard for me to comprehend let alone articulate.

He’s home today. Frail and weak with an almost non-existent immunity. But at least he is HOME and he is safe. We do have an army of medical care stalwarts we can’t just be eternally grateful to but to who we owe our life – Dr Balsekar, Dr Soonu Udani, Dr Gaurav Porwal, Dr Vijaya Kowshik, Dr Cyrus Contractor. If it hadn’t been for their sense of urgency and foresight, things would have gone horribly wrong. And not to mention the incredible nursing staff at SRCC hospital. The outpouring of prayers, support, love and warmth from colleagues, teachers, the school, friends and family is another story that I will leave for my personal connection with each and every one of them.

The attempt is to bring to light the havoc that MIS-C can create in children. Because much of the focus right now is on adult related symptoms of COVID but this is something that has gone completely unnoticed with no information or knowledge. MIS-C is a syndrome. There is very little research that has been conducted to ascertain the cause and risk factors associated with it. It is rare and with the correct medical attention, it can come under control. But since the knowledge is not widespread it’s almost next to impossible to identify the symptoms. And by the time you do and start taking action, things could become serious. Whilst not all children have the same symptoms, below are the red flags:

• Fever that lasts for more than a day

• Rash on the skin

• Vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Feeling unusually drowsy – inability to stay awake

• Red eyes

• Enlarged lymph nodes

• Fast heartbeat

• Rapid breathing

• Redness or swelling of the lips, tongue, hands and feet

My son had 8 out 10 symptoms

I am no doctor. And this is not intended to be a paper in a medical journal. I’m just a mother who got lucky and if knowledge and awareness can save even one child then I will consider it a pay forward.

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