BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s been almost one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Alabama. Many people are still experiencing “long hauler symptoms’' after battling the virus.
Before her COVID-19 diagnosis in October 2020, Addison Adams was an active 11-year-old girl.
“I enjoyed music a lot,” she said. “I enjoyed playing piano and playing the ukulele. Learning the guitar and singing.”
“She went from being a child that was riding her bike every day to a child that cannot walk alone,” Addison’s mother, Julie Thompson, said. “She was perfectly healthy.”
Julie tested positive for the virus in October along with her daughter. She said she thought they’d both be fine after a 10 day quarantine.
“When she got diagnosed, she had just the typical symptoms,” Thompson said. “All the symptoms basically except a high fever.”
“When I got it, I was just rubbing it off,” Adams said. “Kind of just thinking I will lay in bed and get better and be able to go back to school with all my other friends.”
But, Addison did not return to school. Thompson said the third week into Addison’s COVID case, she started experiencing severe leg pains and numbness.
“Every day it seemed like we were developing a new symptom,” Thompson said. “She started having headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. She was seeing double and she has blind spots in both of her eyes.”
Next, Thompson said Addison’s symptoms grew even more severe.
“Seizure like activity,” Thompson said. “Twitching, jerking, falling, passing out. I took her to Children’s hospital and they said it was just the after effects of COVID. They said she would eventually get better, but then she did not.”
Now, four months later, Addison needs a cane to help her walk. She hasn’t been back to school since October because her side effects make it hard for her to be alone. Addison said the pain isn’t improving and is the worst at night.
“The hardest part is all of the pain,” Addison said. “It is so unreal. It’s definitely nothing I’ve ever experienced before at all.”
She’s been diagnosed with multiple neurological and functional disorders, all believed to be from having COVID-19. Thompson said doctors have diagnosed Addison with Functional Neurological Disorder, Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome, and Orthostatic Intolerance. Thompson said new symptoms continue to pop up, so they don’t know if that is all they are dealing with. With little data on children and the virus, Thompson said doctors don’t know if Addison will fully recover.
“Very discouraging for her and very heartbreaking for me because I feel so helpless,” Thompson said.
Addison visits doctors twice a week and physical therapists. When she isn’t at the doctor’s office, she’s in zoom school.
Thompson said she hopes Addison’s story encourages other parents to explore medical help if their child is still experiencing after effects from the virus.
“If a parent realizes there are symptoms that are still lingering, reach out to your doctors,” she said.
Addison said she is excited to one day return back to school with her friends. She was just added to one of the first pediatric COVID-19 studies being done by Yale University. This will help doctors gather data for future similar cases in children.