Why I'm Imploring You To Take COVID-19 Precautions Seriously

by Abby Shockley
Originally Published: 
The Silent Sufferers Of COVID-19
Courtesy of Abby Shockley

Our son James died on March 19th. It was right at the beginning of COVID-19 coming to a head here in Florida. It was the first week we were home. I had gone into work that Monday.

On March 18th, he had a mild cough after being sick a few weeks before. We called the pediatrician to see if he should be seen. They had just started being cautious about in-person visits, but hadn’t even moved to telehealth yet. We were told not to bring him in and call if it gets worse.

Courtesy of Abby Shockley

It didn’t get a chance to get worse. We woke up the next morning and found him lifeless in his crib.

Our 16-month-old was fine and happy with a minor cough, and then he was gone. They tested him for COVID-19, but it was so early in the course of things that less was understood about the accuracy of tests and the possibility of false-negatives.

It was before they knew that children may have some different COVID-19 symptoms than adults.

It was before they knew that thousands of kids with COVID-19 can have mild symptoms for a very long time before their body attacks itself (as in Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome).

Courtesy of Abby Shockley

The cause of death on my child’s death certificate is myocarditis — a disease that causes inflammation of the heart muscle, for which viral infections are the leading cause. They said he also had pneumonia. Though those are the official causes, and the only things we can be sure of, I can’t help but feel in my mama heart that the cough and cold symptoms were COVID-19 and that my son may have suffered a complication related to that virus. His tiny organs were attacked from the inside by something so strong we didn’t even get a chance to help him fight.

James may not be an official casualty of COVID-19 in the eyes of the statistics we see, but all I know is that a deadly pandemic was rearing its head the week my son died before anyone knew enough to think his symptoms were something to pay attention to. My baby never tested positive for COVID, but I can’t find any reason not to believe that COVID-19 stole my son’s life.

Courtesy of Abby Shockley

Writing this was hard. I had to stop halfway through to wait for my eyes to stop burning from the tears. But I feel compelled to shout our story from the rooftops if it means that I can protect another family from the nightmare we live now. I would give anything to have my son back.

Courtesy of Abby Shockley

Now is the time to be paranoid. It’s the time to hate being trapped in the house day in and day out and force yourself to do it anyway. It’s the time to wear a mask everywhere you go, and still only go out when absolutely necessary. It’s the time to resume Zoom game nights and virtual hangouts. It’s the time to support schools and teachers as they offer virtual options.

I know it’s hard. We are struggling with juggling it all too. But you don’t want the what-ifs. You don’t want the regret. The reality right now is far better than the alternative when it comes to your children. I promise you.

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