THIS IS US

When Your Child Has a Chronic Illness, It Changes Everything

On navigating a road that suddenly feels very bumpy

Andrew Knott
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readFeb 10, 2022

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Photo: Jannes Glas/Unsplash

When you’re a parent, you eventually find some sort of rhythm. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it probably takes years for almost everyone. The addition of another child at any point along the road typically requires a reset. Even if you had found your groove, a new baby will almost certainly require you to find the exit ramp and take a bathroom break. Of course, your nonbaby child will probably need to pee in the grass at this point because making it to a real bathroom is just too much trouble.

But, after all the children have arrived and they’ve grown up a little bit, maybe enough to start preschool or elementary school, there is a chance the road will start to feel a little smoother, like a freshly paved interstate.

It may feel that way, at least, until something goes wrong with one of your children.

We’ve all been living in a pandemic for two years now, so perhaps achieving any type of rhythm remains impossible, but it’s beyond impossible when chronic illness crops up in your family. Sadly, more and more families will likely have to navigate the twisting, pothole-filled roads of chronic illness as the long-term effects of Covid-19 in children and adults continue to become apparent.

My oldest son who is 10 years old has been struggling with a laundry list of unexplained ailments for more than a year. Recurring and debilitating stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, fevers, and more. We don’t know if it’s Covid-19-linked, though it’s certainly tempting to suspect that it could be.

Regardless of the origin, the illness has completely transformed his life and ours. From going to school to playing video games with his friends while on a video call, everything is more difficult for him now. After-school activities are out because the school day zaps too much of his limited energy. Homework is hard to keep up with because he often needs to nap in the evenings. Even when he’s doing things he loves like creating a shrine to Potato Dog (don’t ask… but if you must, check here), he has to stop to slump over in his chair or rest his head on the table for a moment. His class…

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Andrew Knott
Human Parts

Writer, humorist, dad of three. Editor of Frazzled. Debut novel LOVE'S A DISASTER coming Spring 2024 (Bayou Wolf Press).