MISSOULA, Mont. — Montana’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 93,669 people have recovered from the virus in our state, but that doesn’t mean all those people are back to normal.
Every parent knows the heartache of having a sick kid, but what if there was no recovery in sight? That’s the reality for the parents of Hudson Beard, 13, of Missoula.
“A lot of people really do not understand how dramatic the effects of COVID are on children,” Lisa Beard, Hudson’s mom, said. “A lot of times, we want to protect the most vulnerable, the small under 1 and the elderly, but Hudson was a thriving, very active 13-year-old and the rest of my family recovered, and he has not.”
It’s been 14 weeks of agony for Hudson, who contracted COVID-19 in November. He hasn’t been to school since.
“It is hard,” Hudson said. “It’s really hard when doctors don’t have an answer, and they’re like, ‘Well, over time let’s see what happens. And you might get better, we don’t know.’”
We’ve been following Hudson’s journey since December, at which time doctors had just diagnosed him with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, a disorder that causes his heart rate to jump when he stands. He gets a vertigo-like dizziness every time he stands up or does basic tasks like reading or watching television.
We hoped to do a follow-up story on his improving conditions, but his symptoms have only become more severe, sending him to a Colorado hospital for new problems discovered in his heart.
“My coronary heart arteries are dilated, like both of them are,” Hudson said.
“His heart -- we didn't catch that for two months,” Lisa said. “And so now we're dealing with a coronary issue that we don't know if it will resolve.”
Doctors say there’s much more heart involvement in people who have had COVID-19 than they originally thought.
One study used cardiac MRIs on 100 patients recovering from COVID-19, showing cardiac involvement in 78 of the patients and myocardial inflammation in 60.
For kids who have had COVID-19, even without major symptoms, doctors recommend a screening before returning to physical exercise or sports.
Doctors say if you’ve had COVID-19 and are feeling chest pains or palpitations, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.
Hudson also has new trouble breathing, continuous migraines, gastrointestinal problems and issues with the left side of his body, like he suffered a stroke.
“He has a lot of muscle weakness, and there's been a lot of atrophy on his entire left side,” Lisa said. “So the rehab is the same as if he had had a stroke.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, will have somewhat of a virtual fireside chat and question and answer session as part of the 2021 Mansfield Center Lecture Wednesday, and the Beards hope to ask about Hudson’s condition.
“I was wondering why I have all these symptoms and like, a new one pops up every, like, two weeks and why no doctors can explain it,” Hudson said.
Lisa Beard says they now have a dedicated team of doctors and specialists supporting them through their journey. They’re desperate for answers and healing.
“We're hopeful that maybe there's a research study or there's a center where they're kind of watching these kids with some of the similar long-hauler symptoms,” Lisa said.
Hudson has a new pet tortoise that helps him pass time during the days, along with listening to audiobooks. Until more answers come, his days will continue to include doctors’ appointments and tests while his parents do whatever they can think of to get him on the road to recovery.