A Weyburn mother, Janelle Evans, is pleading with the public to take the government’s restrictions on self-isolating and physical distancing seriously, as her son is extremely vulnerable to any infections.
She and husband Ken have two sons, Liam, 15, and four-year-old Isaiah, who was born with multiple skeletal deformities, including cervical kyphosis. This makes it very difficult for Isaiah to breathe most of the time, but especially so when he gets sick.
The Evans are at home now after Isaiah spent Feb. 6-22 in the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital on Saskatoon, as he fought respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“He is extremely vulnerable right now. He doesn’t have the lung reserves to handle another virus,” said Janelle. “He was on the ventilator when we were in Saskatoon. Even with that, he got sick enough he needed more support.”
What scares her is seeing images of patients in places like Italy, where those with ventilators were not helped and many people have died of COVID-19. It also concerns her to see people not practicing social distancing or self-isolation in Weyburn.
“I was at Wal-Mart the other day buying some necessities. Parents were there with their kids, and the parking lot was full,” she said. She was looking over a shelf to consider what to buy, and a person reached right around her to grab an item off the shelf.
“I don’t know who they were, they don’t know me. We just need to be more aware of that,” said Janelle. “We just take for granted that they weren’t in contact with someone who had been out of the country.”
As another example, she noted that there are young people going over to friends’ houses for sleepovers.
“It’s up to us to limit that,” said Janelle, who pointed out that even if she can avoid getting COVID-19, she has her son to consider, not to mention other people who may be more vulnerable to infections than most other people. “My fear is if my son gets even a cold.”
Since coming back home, Isaiah is doing well, but he still needs supplemental oxygen as his lungs do not have the reserves that he once had.
Isaiah had a tracheotomy when he was two months old. Children with tracheotomies are prone to pneumonia. Hospitalized multiple times with the illness for the first half of his life, the pneumonia left scarring on his lungs each time, reducing the capacity of his lungs.
Janelle was happy to see the strict new measures that were put in place on Monday, closing many non-essential businesses and restaurants, and added, “I’m hoping there are penalties for people who don’t follow the rules. I hope they’re held accountable for their actions.”
If people take the restrictions seriously, then they will follow the suggested guidelines, she said. For a family, only one person should be going out to get necessary supplies, such as groceries or household supplies.
Janelle hopes that having her concerns out there, including her fears and worries for her son Isaiah, puts a face to noting who the vulnerable are.
“You don’t really know who the vulnerable are,” she said, pointing out that most people will have someone in their family or circle of friends who is vulnerable, and the restrictions really are about protecting all of them.
“We’re showing support for each other by quarantining ourselves, and showing love for your neighbour. There still could be some scary health issues going on there, there are so many vulnerable people out there,” said Janelle. “If you knew you had COVID-19 and you gave it to a child or to a mother who’s fighting cancer and they died, you’d have to live with that. There’s no way you can plead ignorance to this.”
Her hope is that if people take the restrictions seriously, then maybe this COVID-19 crisis will be over sooner, but if people don’t, the crisis will only get worse.