by Shelley Inon
A Geraldine family is using their experience of having a Covid-19 positive child to try to remove the stigma around the virus.
Mum Debs Reardon said she was worried stigma around the virus could prevent people from getting tested or seeking healthcare, but she hoped people would soon learn to treat it “as you would any other bug”.
“You haven’t done anything wrong to catch it.”
When her 11-year-old son Eli got a “nasty headache” last week they were given some Rats (rapid antigen tests) to take home.
She said to use the at-home test you “put it up the nose and swirl it around a few times”.
But she struggled to get it up her son’s nostril.
“You know what kids are like.”
After waiting for the results to form, there was a slight blur in the test window under the control line. While it appeared to be a negative result, she was not entirely sure.
But when her son begged her not to try again she relented, and said if it was not for him becoming short of breath, they might not have tested him again.
Eli had no close contacts that were infected and he had not left the Geraldine area.
He was the first known Covid-19 case at Geraldine High School, but since speaking out, others have been tested and come forward with positive results.
“It is hard to know where he got it from.”
Eli told his mother that the bug was “like nothing I’ve ever felt before”.
She said she asked if it was like a sore tummy or cold and he said it was “like none of those”.
The chill factor, the cramps and the breathlessness were what made it completely different.
Mrs Reardon thought there was a lot of faith in the system.
“I must admit that you are given tests to take home and you are supposed to be accountable for your results.
“We could have got a positive and thrown it in the bin. But straight away I thought,’we have to do the right thing’.”
While Mrs Reardon was concerned about an elderly neighbour, Eli said his thoughts went to a close friend who is immunocompromised.
“You need to get vaccinated and tested to protect him and people like him.
“He has enough hospital visits as it is.”
Father Simeon Reardon manages a business he will not be able to return to until he is clear.
“You have to do what’s safest for your customers, even when it’s not what’s best for your business.”
The family has been given nothing from the Government but Rats.
“Enough Rats so the whole family can test on day three and day 10. So far we are all negative.”
Mrs Reardon said she had been given “all sorts of advice for Eli”.
A common suggestion was giving him vitamin C.
And, while her son does take vitamin C regularly, she said she felt that a virus reacted differently in every body.
“There is no magic cure to treat it, because everyone behaves differently.
“And no amount of vitamins are going to change that.
“There is no way I’m going to dose him with anything but prescribed medicine.”
Mr Reardon said paracetamol was the saviour of the day, but advised people to listen to their doctor’s advice if they took a turn for the worse.
Mrs Reardon said she checked her son throughout the night to monitor his breathing.
She hoped something could be done about making the tests more accessible, so people could have an accurate gauge of where Covid-19 had been in the community, allowing family members of vulnerable residents to be “more vigilant than usual, and better prepared”.
She had weighed up the pros and cons of revealing a positive test in a small community.
“But we have had so many people thank us for sharing. And it has encouraged others to go and get tested.”