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  • Mom Whose 3 Children Battled COVID-19 Says They First Thought It Was 'Stomach Flu'

    Her youngest had to be hospitalized and placed on oxygen support.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Mom Whose 3 Children Battled COVID-19 Says They First Thought It Was 'Stomach Flu'
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Lyka Roxas-Mohammad
  • According to latest data from the Department of Health, cases of COVID-19 in children are on the rise even as the country is once again on lockdown to contain the Delta variant. While previous research indicated that kids exhibit milder symptoms or none at all, “ibang kalaban ang Delta,” according to Dr. Jocelyn Eusebio, head of the Philippine Pediatric Society in an interview.

    For mom Lyka Roxas-Mohammad, 34, whose entire household was struck by the virus, children battling COVID-19 is something that she “would never wish anyone to experience firsthand.” But she bravely shared their ordeal on social media so that her fellow parents will be aware of the symptoms they should look out for.

    Diagnosed as stomach flu

    Lyka with her husband Al, and children Miguel, Andie, and Justine.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Lyka Roxas-Mohammad

    Lyka shares that between July 4 to July 13, 2021, she and her kids, Miguel, 11, Andie, 5, and Justine, 3, experienced various symptoms like stomachache, runny nose, slight cough, diarrhea, and fever that only lasted for a day or two. Upon consultation with a doctor, they were diagnosed with viral flu or stomach flu.

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    On July 12, Lyka’s parents, both health workers in Bulacan, started experiencing the same symptoms. Lyka and her family visited them on July 5, but since the mom and her kids were diagnosed with stomach flu, they thought they contracted the same thing.

    Lyka was scheduled for her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on July 14, but since she and her kids were considered “COVID suspects,” an infectious disease doctor advised against it. Still, Lyka pushed through with the vaccination after taking an antigen test and getting a negative result.

    A few days later, Lyka’s husband, Al Mohammad, experienced postnasal drip and developed a slight cough. Lyka, on the other hand, had low-grade fever, body pains, and a headache, which she thought were side effects of her second dose.

    On July 17, Lyka’s parents tested positive for COVID-19. That’s when the mom realized the possibility that they may have unwittingly given the virus to her parents. She and her family took RT-PCR tests and everyone in their household, excluding their kasambahay tested positive.

    COVID-19 in children

    During the first 12 days after testing positive, their children felt well and did not exhibit any symptoms. Al had body pains while Lyka experienced ringing ears and back pain. Both parents felt healthy enough to continue working from home.

    But on their 13th day of quarantine, July 31, her youngest daughter, Justine, woke up in the middle of the night due to dry cough. She also vomited once.

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    The next day, her daughter’s symptoms worsened. “She became nasal and had runny nose,” Lyka notes. She started consulting her doctor friends as Justine’s oximeter reading was at 94 percent and she had a heart rate of 135 bpm.

    That night, Justine developed a fever. Upon teleconsultation, a pedia pulmonologist prescribed her with antibiotics, cough meds, and an inhaler. Lyka was also asked to monitor Justine’s oxygen level and heart rate.

    Lyka notes that their family has a history of asthma and allergic rhinitis, but it was the first time that her daughter was put on inhalers.

    Early morning of August 2, Justine’s fever subsided, but she started to have difficulty in breathing due to her cough. Her oxygen levels also dropped to 89 and her heart rate fluctuated between 140 to 155 bpm.

    (According to WebMD, the normal heart rate for toddlers 1-3 years old is between 90 to 140 bpm. Normal oxygen levels should be at 95 to 100 percent, according to NPR.)

    Justine’s pedia advised them to rush the child to a hospital immediately. There, the toddler went through a series of laboratory tests and was diagnosed as a COVID-moderate patient and admitted to an isolation room in the COVID ward.

    Lyka was permitted to be her daughter’s companion in the hospital. The mom recalls that her daughter was on IV and oral antibiotics, inhalers, cough and cold medicine.

    Worsening symptoms

    Justine had to be hospitalized because her oxygen levels dropped and her heart rate was not stable.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Lyka Roxas-Mohammad
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    After a day of observation, on August 3, Justine’s doctors said that she was responding to the medicines given. However, they suspected inflammation of the heart muscles (myocarditis), which is a complication of COVID-19.

    They also checked for Kawasaki disease, an acquired heart condition and another complication that is common in children with the virus. Fortunately, Justine tested negative.

    Lyka’s struggles did not stop there. That same day, their two children developed the same symptoms as Justine’s and was advised to take medication. Justine, on the other hand, was placed on oxygen support as her heart rate was elevated.

    The next day, both Miguel and Andie were taken to the emergency room, where they were diagnosed to have mild pneumonia, tachycardia (fast heartbeat), and inflammation. They were sent home but was advised that their heart rates be monitored. Andi was also advised to consult with a cardiologist.

    On August 6, more than a month since their symptoms first appeared, Justine was finally cleared to go home. According to Lyka, their family are all recovering well at home.

    Dealing with the aftermath

    Justine was able to recover from COVID-19 after staying in the hospital for four days.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of Lyka Roxas-Mohammad
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    In an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph Lyka shares that it would be hard to conclude where they contracted the virus, but she and husband do go out for work and errands. However, they are very careful and practice health and safety measures.

    The mom says she was on autopilot the whole time that she was caring for her children. “I think that’s mom instinct — to act immediately based on what I know,” she shares.

    Lyka admits breaking down after Andie also developed the same symptoms as her sister, but it was a good thing that her doctor friends helped her to process the diagnosis and the lab results. “Encouraging words helped a lot to keep us strong and hope for better results. Prayers definitely helped me a lot,” she says.

    Despite the very challenging month, Lyka is still thankful that their family was able to overcome the ordeal that they went through. She believes that being vaccinated against COVID-19 helped alleviate the symptoms of the virus.

    “I forgot whether it was my MD friend or one of Justine’s doctors who said it, but when I asked if there was an adverse effect since I got the virus in between my doses, they said that having the first dose already had an effect in minimizing the symptoms,” she shares.

    Since there are few studies on the impact of COVID-19 in children, the mom is still hoping for her children’s continuous recovery from the virus and its complications. She is sharing her story so that parents can do their part in staying vigilant for their kids.

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    Lyka says that instinct and discernment play a big role when monitoring your children’s health. “It’s better to be proactive and look at all possible ways to have your kids checked ASAP, all the time. If we didn’t act on it immediately, like in Justine’s case, we might have ended up in the ICU,” she shares.

    Click here for a guide on what to do in case every family member including you get COVID-19.

    This article was updated on August 11, 8:32 p.m. 

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