Coronavirus Chronicles — COVID, Careers, and Kids

We already described some of the Long COVID victims written about by journalist Christopher Rowland. The thing is, these grownups are not just people with jobs they are no longer able to perform. Many of them are parents of children they are expected to financially support and personally care for. Previously, Rowland described a mother who crawls around the living space to tidy up after her toddler, because trying to do that and walk and maintain balance at the same time is beyond her capacity.

He also described the plight of 48-year-old Michael Heidenberg, an academic advisor who was no longer able to function professionally due to “inability to concentrate for long periods and the dangerous spikes in his blood pressure.” Unfortunately, his insurance company decided that since he had a sit-down job, coronavirus and its enduring after-effects should not compromise his ability to work.

Meanwhile, one of this patient’s comments is, “Finding doctors who are well-versed in treating post-covid patients has been incredibly difficult.” It got to where the family’s only income was the amount (under $1,000 per month) his wife received in federal disability payments due to another illness. They set up a GoFundMe account.

Mom? Mom?

Then there was a woman who wanted to go back to work and thought she was ready. But, she said, “I went out and raked some leaves and made dinner for my family, and the next day, I couldn’t get out of bed.”

The journalist also interviewed a Mayo Clinic physician, Greg Vanichkachorn, who specializes in Long COVID. This doctor said, “Employers are not used to dealing with this kind of work situation. Patients are often told, ‘Just come back when you’re 100 percent,’ which could be a really long time out.” A very large number of people are never going to be anywhere near 100 percent again. One of them might be the patient who contracted COVID when her baby was two months old. Rowland wrote,

Her symptoms were moderate, but she could no longer nurse her baby. She was first told she was probably suffering from postpartum depression… She went for a second opinion and staff found signs of the classic “ground-glass” pneumonia in her lungs.

Months passed, as bills went unpaid and this mother, unable to handle even the normal chores of motherhood, continued to feel “like kind of a worthless person.” This scenario is being repeated all over the country, as adults find themselves unable to resume the necessary routines of life, and their children suffer for it.

For every adult who is dealing with Long COVID, we have to wonder how many children are affected? How many kids are jostled out of their familiar routines, shuttled around from one substitute caregiver to another, with many of their needs neglected — not purposely or cruelly, but simply because their parents and other caregivers are no longer able to function? Are the material and emotional needs of these children being adequately filled? Or are they lost in a desert of confusion and emotional deprivation that leads to a multitude of problems, including eating disorders and obesity?

As for those who doubt the pandemic — on the subject of schools, don’t get them started! They want to be left alone by the government, which in some ways is admirable. The problem is, a laissez-faire government can also be accused of abdicating its public health responsibilities. These are tough questions, complicated by incomplete information, misunderstandings, misplaced blame, and, from some quarters, heedless indifference. Meanwhile, whether directly from contracting COVID, or indirectly because of the reasons discussed here, children are paying the price.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Long covid is destroying careers, leaving economic distress in its wake,”, 12/09/21
Source: “Changes in Body Mass Index Among Children and Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic,”, 08/27/21
Image by Jernej Furman/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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