On March 9th, my 14-year-old Geordie had a fever of 100.5 and a horrible cough and runny nose. The same day my 15-year-old Jake also had a sore throat and a low-grade fever. Allergy season was just getting underway…but, just to be safe, I kept them both home from school, but didn’t think too much of it. At this point, the US only had 702 confirmed cases of the virus and everyone was still going about their normal routines. However, out of an abundance of caution, since March 9th, we have all been quarantined in our home.
Later that week, on March 13th as the numbers in the US, increased to 2167, so did Geordie’s fever. I decided I should take both boys to the pediatrician, just to be sure this wasn’t something to be more concerned about. At this time, none of the pediatric staff had PPE or really took any additional precautions from a routine sick visit. They just asked questions like, “Had we been on a cruise or traveled out of the country?” No, we did not travel internationally, and no, we were not on a cruise. The nurse during the visit actually told both the kids, “this country is getting crazy over nothing, and don’t worry this virus won’t affect kids.” They tested both kids for strep, sent us home with, “it is probably allergies, but keep an eye on things.”
Geordie, got much worse over the next couple of days, and so did the confirmed cases in the United States. The fever continued to hover around 100-101, and the cough went to his chest and got much worse. He was sleeping all the time and could not get out of bed, and he was non-stop coughing. I was constantly checking on him, keeping him hydrated, and waking him up to get some food in him.
On March 19th the US number had risen to 13,479 and I knew he had to take Geordie back to the doctor. Trying not to panic, I called the pediatrician and took him in that afternoon. This time, the waiting area looked much different from when we were there a week prior. Gloves, construction goggles (from Home Depot), and gowns were seen on all of the staff. The nurse took his temperature again, which was now at 101.5. The doctor came in and took a lot of time with her stethoscope…she listened very, very closely to his chest as he struggled to take deep breaths in and out for about 3 minutes. Unfortunately, she gave us the news that he had developed full-blown pneumonia in both of our lungs.
Her first comment to me was, “I am going to test him for the flu.” Geordie, the doctor, and I did a glance at each other for a good 30 seconds, which felt like 10 minutes. She knew what we were going to ask… she then proceeded to say, “I can’t test him for COVID-19 because of the lack of testing kits we have here in our office, and CDC guidelines tell us to only test if someone has traveled outside of the US.” Was she serious, my kid has pneumonia, of course, you have to test him for COVID-19!
I felt horrible for her as she wrestled with what she knew was the right decision. Geordie was worried, I was scared, and the pediatrician was paralyzed with knowing what she had to do. I nicely insisted that she do the COVID-19 test and we weren’t going to settle for no. She then told us they had only done one other test in their office at that point, but she understood my concern. She left the room, came back and did the flu and COVID-19 tests. Her recommendation was to start a 3 day supply of azithromycin, 4 puffs 4 times a day of pro-air, keep on the fluids, and, if his breathing gets worse, call her back. The test results for COVID-19 would be back in 2-4 days.
10 days had passed since this all started on March 9th with a fever and cough. At this point, everyone’s’ worlds had been turned upside down…All of my kids’ schools had closed, there was a stay-at-home order for Sandy Springs, I had been laid off, stress levels were rising all around me, and now I found myself in the role of 24/7 nurse trying to make sure my child was breathing, all while maintaining my sanity waiting for the test results to come back.
That weekend was the worst, Geordie struggled with his breathing, his cough was horrendous, he was sleeping around the clock, and I didn’t sleep at all, checking on him all the time. I kept my phone by my side hoping to get the results, but the weekend came and went, and nothing. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, nothing, still no results after 7 days. Sanitizing, cooking, sanitizing, cooking, sanitizing, cooking.
At this point, I started coughing, my husband was coughing, the other kids were coughing, and all I was thinking was the entire house is now infected. Pollen counts in Atlanta were at an all-time high, so I kept saying, please just be allergies. How do we not have results after a week of getting tested?! After another week of seeing the numbers infected on the rise in the US to now 83,732 ….does my entire family now have it? I do not understand how this testing system is so messed up, how are we supposed to protect our family when we don’t even know what is going on with the test that was done almost a week ago!? It was very, very scary, the fear of the unknown as numbers of deaths at this point, we’re also on the rise.
Family and friends checking in hourly and daily to see what the results were, worried about all of us, incredible neighbors bringing us food, my stress level off the charts, and finally after 10 days of waiting, the results came back negative!!! Thank goodness, just a horrible case of pneumonia at a very strange time. Now we call all breath a sigh of relief and continue to nurse Geordie back to health from pneumonia.
Over the past 3 weeks, clearly the severity and numbers have grown where people in this country are taking this extremely seriously. Watching my child go through this horrible experience, seeing the numbers rise daily, not knowing for 10 days if we were all infected with COVID-19, really had a huge impact on all of us, mentally, physically, and emotionally. Please know that based on our experience, if you get tested, you may not know for days and that will cause anguish, stress, and mentally it will be extremely challenging. Today marks day 25 of the Francombe self- quarantine, we have done puzzles, played family board games, cooked, cleaned, fought, went on family walks, but most importantly, we are taking care of each other and spending a lot of quality family time together. Of course, we will all get through this trying time and hopefully come out stronger on the other side. Take care of yourselves and each other, ‘Everything Will be Ok!’
In December of 2017, Stacie Francombe joined the Marcus Jewish Community Center to take on the role of Director for the 2019 JCC Maccabi Games, an Olympic-style sporting event. During her time at the MJCCA, she managed and executed the largest sporting event for Jewish teenagers in the country, with more than 1900 participants, ranging from 12-16-years-old. Overseeing and managing a budget of approximately 2 million dollars, the event brought together the Atlanta Jewish Community for a week of spirit, friendship, and celebration with over 1200 volunteers.
Geordie Francombe, who is active at the Marcus JCC and Camp Ramah Darom, is already an accomplished actor. He quickly was snatched up for representation by talent agents in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Taping auditions in his home studio was as common as homework by 2017, and helped him land roles in two national commercials: Amazon Studio’s TV series, “Lore”; and his biggest role, in “Misfits & Monsters.” He is at home now recovering from pneumonia.