Childhood cancer can make any family feel so isolated from the rest of the world. Even during cold and flu season the hospital visitor restrictions for kids inpatient really put an extra stress on siblings as kids under 12 are not allowed to visit. But COVID-19 has put an extra special touch to restrictions.
For the first couple months of COVID, being admitted for chemo was even more stressful. We always come to clinic with our wagons and backpacks full with anticipation of admission. It's difficult to get that into the hospital when you have a child and the parking the lot is far away. Parking in the parking structure is hard, especially with a kid who doesn't walk well because of his cancer treatment side effects. Most of the time we needed a wheelchair. Pulling two wagons, or even only one, while pushing a wheelchair was impossible. Normally, we count on valet. However, because of the extra precautions needed, COVID closed all valet parking. We got to the entrance and there were three sets of checks.
Once we finally made it to the entrance we were greeted by more precautions. Before we even reached the doors, we were greeted by a staff member asking if we have any symptoms or have been in contact with anyone who has had symptoms. After
we were cleared, we checked in with a staff member in the doorway. The staff had a list of ALL appointments and had to check to make sure we were on the list. However, that wasn't the last check. After we passed those check points, we have to check into the welcome desk for more questions and our badge to be allowed in the hospital. While the checks were precautionary, it was difficult to even get into the hospital and those children who have anxiety have it festering as they reach all these points.
I know a lot of kids who have had to have procedures or surgeries in the last several months during COVID. The new normal is to get a COVID test the day before in order to be allowed to continue their necessary treatment. I have seen my own son get the COVID test several times and it isn't pleasant but he doesn't complain. But I have heard adults crying about it! It must be very uncomfortable.
The hardest part of COVID is realizing it's not going away. Not having the tools or vaccines to be able to to fight it can make it a scary virus. We never know who it's going to affect or how. No one wants anyone to get sick. However, normalcy for childhood cancer families barely exists. There is a lot of emotional stress that cancer families have to live with. There are a lot of procedures that we hope our kids can get on-time so they aren't behind. We want to always feel like the hospital is right there and available for us.
But COVID has definitely thrown all of us even more anxiety and stress than we had before.