A Covid Diagnosis

Jan 14, 2022

I feel like I kind of forgot about my child. On Sunday night, my youngest daughter started to feel some symptoms that seemed clearly to be COVID. So we did an at home rapid test, and it came back negative. The next morning, she still had symptoms so we did another at-home rapid that also came back negative. I decided to take her to the doctor’s anyway, since some of the symptoms were consistent with strep throat and I figured whether it was COVID or strep. I wanted to have a physician take a look at her and figure it out. She got swabbed for both and we were left in the room alone for several minutes. The doctor then came back. I don’t think either of us really thought what it would be like to receive that diagnosis even though our family has had many COVID tests.

The doctor came back and politely stood at the door without entering the room and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t treat your daughter because she has COVID.” It took me a minute to register what she said as she kept talking and giving us the protocols. And then I turned to look at my daughter, who looked back at me with fear in her eyes. I grabbed my little one’s hand and pulled her close to me. And she began to sob.

After some words of reassurance from both the doctor and from me, we made our way back to the car. When we got in the car, my little one burst into tears, saying that her biggest fear was that her big sister would be afraid of her and wouldn’t want to play with her. As soon as we got home, her big sister wrapped her arms around her and cried and said “I’m so sorry. I love you. You’re going to be okay.”

We went about that night as normally as we could, discussing it a little bit. We reassured both our children that as adults, we were fully vaccinated, boosted and healthy. And as kids, they were fully vaccinated, and therefore, we thought this would be an easy course.

My husband and I had quickly decided that none of us would mask at home. At that moment, it was a decision of physical health and/or mental health. We took into consideration our vaccination status and our overall health/age. I could not picture the next 5-10 days being masked at our home which is supposed to be a safe space. We opted to lean on the mental health side.

What I didn’t realize was that while physically it had been an easy course, mentally it had been a bit more challenging…for my daughter. My oldest daughter, explained that she didn’t want her classmates to know about her diagnosis because she did not want to be called COVID on the playground and be made fun of. My younger one also decided she didn’t want her friends to know and just decided she would do the remote school and kind of “fit in” with the other kids who either were home because of a COVID diagnosis or because it was the right decision for that family.

The other night when I was putting my little one to bed, my little one began to cry. She said, “Mommy, I don’t know why you, daddy and my sister are acting like everything’s okay. It’s not okay. You guys don’t know what it feels like to be the only one in the family with COVID.”

In that moment, my heart sank.

I took a moment to acknowledge and validate her concern. “I hear you baby. You’re right. We don’t know what it’s like to be the only one in the family with COVID.” We spoke a little bit more about what she was feeling and I explained why we were acting like everything was “ok”.

I felt pretty ignorant that I didn’t realize psychologically speaking what my child was going through. I’m a Licensed Social Worker and parent coach. And I’m always thinking about thoughts and feelings. But somehow I missed this big one.

Our kids have been living in trauma for almost two years. Our kids have been living in fear for almost two years. I work with parents who have kids with challenging behavior. The reason for the challenging behavior is varied. One common thread right now for most kids, if not all kids is that there is this underlying fear and concern for safety. Parents all over the world are saying to their kids, “It’s not safe” or “We need to keep our masks on to be safe” or “That place closed because everyone got sick”. Even in my most recent emails, I opened by saying “I hope you and your family had a healthy and safe New Year”. There’s a whole lot of conversation about being safe and that has taken a toll on all of us, especially our children.

Behavior is a form of communication and therefore, we see challenging behaviors when a child doesn’t have the words/tools to communicate their feelings that are beneath the surface. In this case, my daughter didn’t exhibit any challenging behaviors and instead was able to clearly communicate her concerns, thoughts and feeling. But this caught me off guard.

There isn’t a lesson for me to share here or any wise words of wisdom, rather just me sharing with you as a fellow mom.