When cold and flu season rolls around, parents begin to brace themselves for days off of school due to illness. It’s difficult to get out of the season unscathed.
For 8-year-old Jamie Jones, what seemed like a simple infection, turned into a potential life-threatening situation. His mother Jessica wants to educate the world about the warning signs.
It began when Jamie came home with a sore throat. “It started with a fever,” said Jessica. “We took him to multiple ERs and urgent cares and they kept telling us it was just a viral infection.” She didn’t worry too much about it.
Then, one side of Jamie’s neck began to swell and became painful. That was the first sign that something far worse was going on.
Soon there were more symptoms. A rapid heart beat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes earned Jamie a round of antibiotics that didn’t seem to do anything.
“He couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk and I knew something was off with him because he just wasn’t getting better,” said Jessica. Her concern grew.
Jamie was not a boy to sit in bed all day. He was an athlete, and though he tried many different sports, he gravitated towards wrestling. The sport was something that he shared with his father.
In his first year, he placed first and second at local events and went on to place sixth in his weight class. Now, to see him sick and unable to do what he loved was heartbreaking.
Finally, after being misdiagnosed several times, a doctor noticed the red flags. Jamie was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease. This illness causes aneurysms, inflammation of the heart and arteries, and sometimes even cardiac arrest. If left untreated, it could cause damage to Jamie’s heart.
Jessica was shocked to hear the news. Director of pediatric cardiology at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, Dr. Sanjay Parikh, said that people don’t realize how prevalent Kawasaki disease actually is.
But the treatment would be intense. Unfortunately, tests revealed that there had already been some damage to little Jamie’s heart. Several aneurysms were found in his arteries.
For eight months Jamie would be given daily injections in his stomach to keep his blood thin and help him avoid developing new blood clots. “Our lives went from normal, carefree, to worry about every single thing, ” said Jessica. Jamie will have to live a different life now, one without wrestling.
If he had been diagnosed within the one-week window of the onset of his illness, the heart damage could have been prevented. Still, Jamie is a real warrior. He is a positive light who found a new love in swimming.
Inspired by Kyle Chalmers, an Australian junior world record holder and Olympic gold medalist, Jamie began swimming. He had to be careful, though: no bumps or bruises allowed.
Recently, Jamie has been following other kids with Kawasaki disease on Facebook. In true warrior fashion, he asked his mother if he could send a Facebook friend a book to help cheer him. Now more than twenty books have been sent out.
Jessica hopes to raise awareness of this disease. “If you feel like something is not right or your child’s not getting better, question it,” she said. “If they have a fever for five days, bring up Kawasaki disease. It doesn’t hurt to question it.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.