April 12, 2021 5:32:21 pm
By Geetika Sasan Bhandari
It’s been a terribly depressing week; cases are rising at an alarming rate, beating all previous single day records. As we stare at curfews and possible lockdowns in some states, it really seems like an entire year of our life has been nullified. All the wfh, online classes, extensive lockdowns seem to have come to naught because we are now looking at a 2021 that looks like it’s going to beat its predecessor hollow.
This is particularly stressful for children, especially those in their last year or two years of school. Thinking about my last years at school and how they were the most fun with the maximum memories and thinking about these kids living out the best years of their lives virtually, makes my heart break. But what is even more scary now is that we don’t need to just worry about their mental and emotional health—this time round, the Covid strain is affecting many more children and young adults. In Maharashtra alone, the number of kids infected with Covid (between March 1 and April 4, 2021), is more than 60,000 and nearly 10,000 of these are below 5 years of age, reports NDTV. The overall number for the country (children infected in the five states that are most hit) is close to 80,000.
What is worrisome is that more than 2,000 cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) have also been reported in India, says India Today, quoting a Feb 2021 study by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics Intensive Care Chapter. This is a condition in which patients develop fever and inflammation in various organs and in more than 60% of cases, this affects the heart. And with vaccines for children far way—AstraZeneca has halted the UK clinical trials on children due to a rare blood clot issue that arose—we just have to work on prevention, staying home, and maintaining strict Covid protocols.
My 14-year-old had Covid in November last year. Fortunately, hers was mild and she was able to isolate for 13 days, while regularly monitoring her oxygen and fever, washing her clothes when she had the energy, disposing of her trash once a day etc. So, let me tell you this: Should your child get it, don’t panic. It is manageable in most cases, and at home, but of course you have to monitor the symptoms like a hawk. We would do video calls several times a day and get her to check her readings while on the call, lest she forget. But to manage home care, and ensure the child is getting his/her nutritious meals and supplements on time, and all other members are safe, requires immense physical and mental strength. It is draining. So, you have to be calm and in control. Getting hysterical and anxious will only make matters worse.
What I do want to tell you though, is this: The child will recover, of course, but we have no idea what short- or long-term impact it has on the body. A month after my daughter recovered, she had a fall and fractured the bone above the ankle. The doctor told me children recover pretty quickly, say four weeks. But even six weeks later I was being told that the X-Ray showed her healing was very slow, that calcium deposits were not forming where the injury had occurred. This was despite giving her Calcium supplements, bone broth, ensuring movement was completely restricted till the cast was on, forcing her to eat fresh fruits (teenagers, alas!), and ensuring rest and zero outside movement or exposure. Why then, I wondered, was her body taking so much time? And then, my sister who also had Covid, went back to playing tennis six weeks after recovering, and sustained a muscle tear. This convinced me that the body does, in fact, take much, much longer to heal post Covid and the immunity is obviously compromised. Therefore, if your child does get it, please do not let them get back to any rigorous sport until the doctor says it’s OK. Children, especially teenagers, are prone to rebellion, but this time round, the stakes are way too high. My daughter has now crossed 8 weeks since the injury and is still on a single crutch and an air boot. The last four-and-a-half months of her life have only been spent dealing with illness and recovery.
Unfortunately, because there is no template, there is also no way of knowing what long-term repercussions Covid will leave in its wake. Studies will possibly corroborate our collective experiences when research appears two-three years down the line, documenting post-Covid health problems. Till then, we just have our instinct and common sense to go by. Use it well.
(The writer is former Editor of Child, and has recently launched a parenting platform called Let’s Raise Good Kids. She has two kids)
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