My Story…

It was December of 2020 when I contracted Covid-19. Though the test said that I was positive, I did not feel ill at all nor showed any symptoms, like thousands of young and healthy kids who tested positive for Covid-19 but weren’t really “affected” by it. I was “quarantined” for two weeks automatically since it was our Winter Break from school.

However, two months later, in February of 2021, I started having a horrible case of what I thought was stomach flu. My stomach hurt a lot, my head pounded, and had fevers up to 103 degrees. I also vomited, had diarrhea, and couldn’t get out of my bed due to lack of energy. All the medications and care that my parents provided for me did not help at all. On the third day of being sick, my mother decided to take me to the Emergency Room at The Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. I thought I would get some medication and I would be on my way home. That wasn’t what happened. I was kept in the E.R. for six hours as the doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with me, running tests after tests. I was feeling worse and worse as the doctors were waiting for different test results. Then the E.R. doctor decided that I would be best treated at CHOC (Children’s Health at Orange County) Hospital. As I was being placed into the ambulance to be transferred to CHOC, everything seemed to be very fuzzy and unclear and I did not remember much details.

It turned out that I was diagnosed with MIS-C (Multisystemic Inflammatory Syndrome in Children) related to the previous Covid-19 infection. I had inflammation in my heart, kidneys, and other parts of my body were also starting to shut down. On the surface, my eyes were red, developed rash on my face, my pee was dark brown, and had to get blood thinner shots to reduce chance of blood clots. I was hooked up to an IV catheter to have number of medications administered as well as getting blood tests every few hours. I had severe headaches and I could barely get up and walk for a few days, but it got better. I was admitted to an isolation room in a pediatric medicine floor in CHOC hospital. Because of Covid-19 protocol, I could only have one parent at a time visiting me and the children’s playroom was closed. My only entertainment was lying in bed watching old sitcom reruns. I didn’t get good sleep because I had to be awaken every few hours, even throughout the night, for blood draws or getting shots. I couldn’t wait to be done with this illness and go home.

After a week in CHOC hospital, I was finally well enough to be discharged to home. But the joy of leaving the doctors, nurses, tests, needles, shots, and medications behind was very short-lived as I was to follow up with the pediatric cardiologist, infectious disease specialist, nephrologist, and rheumatologist. Also my sodium-restricted diet and tons of daily medications continued. The biggest shock came when I followed up with my pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Wyman Lai, who advised me that I need to stop fencing for the time being! He said that my heart was not in a good enough condition for sports due to the effects of MIS-C. I have been a competitive foil fencer with 7 years of training up until that point. But I had no choice but to take a break from fencing. I had to get better by listening to all of my doctors. When Dr. Lai finally gave me the clearance for me to return to fencing a few months after, I was ecstatic to return to training. In July of 2021, five months after my first encounter with MIS-C, I was able to compete in North American Cup July Challenge, a national competition held by United States Fencing Association. I fenced well the first three pool bouts but on the fourth bout, I started feeling very tired and light headed. At the end of the bout, my chest started having a lot of pain. I couldn’t breathe, and I fainted on the floor. The EMS came to my rescue and stabilized me but I had to take another break from fencing after that.

As a high school sophomore, I am well enough to attend my honors classes and participate cautiously in fencing. I still have periodic appointments to see Dr. Lai to monitor my heart condition. He squeezed me to see me right away after the fainting episode and assured me that I am on the right path of recovery. I truly appreciate his expertise and compassion as he encouraged me to continue fencing and exercise in moderation. I am also grateful for all the doctors and nurses who have saved my life and helped me through this ordeal. Specifically, I would like to thank Dr. Erlinda Ulloa, the pediatric infectious disease specialist at CHOC, who continues to check up on me to this day!

This is my story. I share this story to tell others about this condition called, MIS-C. The effects of Covid-19 infection does not end with a negative test but can have delayed but deadly and life-long consequences. Even though MIS-C is rare, it can happen to anyone. It happened to me. I also would like all the children over the age of 12 to be vaccinated to protect against Covid-19 in the first place