By Jessie Wagoner
Norah Parker, the two-year-old daughter of Carlee and Junior Parker, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on August 10. A month later, the family is just now getting back into a normal routine.
Carlee Parker says her daughter began showing some symptoms of not feeling well a few days before her official diagnosis. She had a fever, diarrhea and a slight cough. Carlee was concerned, not so much because of the severity of symptoms, but because two people they had been in contact with were awaiting COVID-19 test results. With the possibility of an exposure on her mind, she went ahead and made an appointment for Norah to be seen by the doctor.
“She was tested on Monday and they said it could be two or three days for the results to come back,” Carlee Parker said. “But, they called back on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 10, and let us know she was positive. A few days later, we got the news that the people we knew had tested negative. So, we have no idea where she was exposed.”
Carlee Parker says she was initially scared of the diagnosis. She was in contact with the pediatrician and the health department regularly and was managing Norah’s symptoms at home. As each day passed and she monitored Norah, her fear lessened.
“At first it is scary,” Carlee Parker said. “But, she was doing well and we kept an eye on her symptoms and it got less scary. I just focused on her symptoms and how she was doing and not on other information or stories.”
The main symptoms Norah experienced were a daily fever. She would often wake in the morning fever free, but by afternoon, she would have a high fever. Her fever lasted for 12-13 days in a row. Carlee explains because her fever lasted so long, her quarantine time was actually more than 14 days. Norah also had diarrhea and a slight cough. Norah’s pediatrician reassured Carlee those were three very common symptoms of COVID-19 in children.
While Norah did battle the fever for a considerable period of time, she was still playful and silly. She was able to stay occupied with time in the backyard to play and plenty of new games and puzzles sent to her from well-wishers. When the fever would go up, she would “crash for a while,” and then wake up ready to play again.
“It sucked and the unknowns were hard,” Carlee Parker said. “The unknowns are the worst part, because there is still so little we know about COVID-19 and the long term affects. But, it wasn’t this super scary thing like I thought it would be. It was tough and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but she handled it well. Kids are so resilient.”
Norah is now doing well and is enjoying being able to see family and friends, again. Her pediatrician has talked with the family about potential long-term effects, mainly asthma-like symptoms. She did recently have her flu shot and spiked a high fever afterwards. This concerned Carlee a bit, but she is determined to stay focused on all the positive progress.
During Norah’s illness, Carlee was her main caretaker. Junior Parker owns his own small business and needed to work, so the family stayed away from one another, reducing his risk of exposure. Because Carlee was in such close contact with Norah, Carlee had to quarantine for an additional two weeks after Norah met recovery guidelines. After a month of separation from family and friends, she is relieved they are now able to return to some sense of normalcy.
While the illness was tough and lengthy, Carlee believes one of the most difficult aspects of the experience for Norah was the isolation. Norah and Carlee had ample time together, but they weren’t able to see many other people, including Norah’s grandparents. Now that they have been released from quarantine, Carlee has to reassure Norah that it is okay for people to come inside and it is okay to hug others.
“Now that we are able to see people again, especially her grandparents, she refuses to tell anyone goodbye,” Carlee Parker said. “I think she is afraid to tell them goodbye because she might not see them again for so long.”
While Norah readjusts to being able to have contact with others, the family is grateful she has recovered so well. They will continue to follow up with her doctor if any concerns arise, but for now, they are enjoying being able to see friends and family again and share plenty of hugs.
“COVID-19 is very real,” Carlee Parker said. “It is real and it happened to us. But, every case is different. We are happy Norah is doing so well and has recovered.”