Teen Diagnosed With COVID-19: ‘It’s Not a Joke to Us Anymore’
To 17-year-old Jack Farkas of South Lyon, COVID-19 was just something that affected older or sick adults – until he tested positive this summer and had to be quarantined to his room for two weeks.
For Jack, symptoms started with bad headaches and body aches. Just getting up and walking around made him feel like he was going to pass out. But he didn’t think it was COVID-19 – until a friend’s parent called his mom to let the family know Jack had been exposed to COVID-19.
“We instantly went to an urgent care,” said Julie Farkas, Jack’s mom.
While Jack’s parents and two younger sisters tested negative for COVID-19, Jack tested positive.
“I was…shocked because I definitely thought that because of my young age, I was not going to have to worry about it at all; that I was immune; that it wasn’t a problem for me,” Jack said. “When I did get it, I was like, wow — it definitely took me by surprise.”
For 14 days, Jack stayed in his room, isolated from even his family. Meals were delivered on paper plates with plastic silverware; and most conversations with his family were through text messages or with a door in between them. His family also quarantined in their home for those 14 days.
For the typically social family of five, the strict quarantine was a stark change of pace- especially for Jack who could not leave his room even after his symptoms subsided and he felt better within several days. He logged many hours on a Spiderman video game.
“It was a little weird and kind of sad,” Jack said. “I started going a little crazy because I couldn’t be out with people.”
But friends and neighbors responded with overwhelming kindness – from drop-offs of gifts and smoothies to concerned messages from fellow parents.
“A lot of parents reached out to help – the outpouring from the community was absolutely wonderful,” Julie said.
Both Julie and her son said the experience has changed how the family approaches the pandemic.
“We did make changes to our family and the way we do things – because it hit our home and we’re cautious. I would warn parents that this is serious,” Julie said, emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask and frequent hand-washing. “I don’t want to change our life and our lifestyle – so it’s been hard for us as social beings and our family being a social family – to know that you’ve got to take baby steps now, and get back into the world a little bit differently than we were.”
Though Jack is disappointed that the pandemic is changing the experience of his senior year of high school, he said wearing a mask and following social distancing precautions are taken more seriously by his peers because he and several of his friends got COVID-19 during the summer.
“I and all my friends were in the same head space that we weren’t going to be affected by it,” Jack said. “I do think kids started to take it more seriously, especially my friends, because a lot of us got it. It’s not a joke to us anymore.”
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Photo credit: Julie Farkas