Benjamin Russell freshman Jalyiah Glenn has been on a journey since testing positive for COVID-19 Nov. 7.

“She only lost her sense of taste and smell to start with,” Jalyiah’s mother Lashonda Glenn said. “I thought we had it made.”

Just as the Glenns thought Jalyiah, 15, would be one of about 15,000 of Alabamians under the age of 24 recovering from COVID-19 and quickly recovering, Jalyiah began another journey.

“Two weeks after the COVID-19 diagnosis Jalyiah tested negative for COVID-19 but started to complain of pain in her side,” Lashonda said. “During a doctor’s appointment, he thought she might have pulled or strained a muscle resulting in limited activity.”

Time goes by but Jalyiah experiences more symptoms.

“She was running a fever,” Lashonda said. “She complained of body pain. We went to the emergency room at Russell Medical several times and was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.”

The five day stay included two days in the intensive care unit.

“She had a temperature of 103 degrees when she got there,” Lashonda said. “They could only get to 101 degrees with medication. The nurses were checking on her every six minutes. They had to; they had to make sure she wasn’t reacting to it and having severe reactions.”

At Children’s Hospital the Glenns got an answer.

Jalyiah was diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC published information on its website about MIS-C.

“We do not yet know what causes MIS-C,” CDC’s website reports. “However we know that many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19 or had been around someone with COVID-19. MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who were diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.”

Jalyiah is one of only 18 in Alabama and fewer than 1,300 nationwide diagnosed with MIS-C according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and CDC.

MIS-C has been found to strike children and adolescents under the age of 20. Hispanic and Black children account for 75% of the cases of MIS-C according to the CDC. Of all the cases, only 15% are in the 15 to 20 year old bracket. MIS-C is most commonly diagnosed in 5 to 9 year olds with 33% of the nearly 1,300 cases nationwide. All but 1% of the cases had tested positive for COVID-19 just weeks before experiencing symptoms of MIS-C. The other 1% had close contact to someone with COVID-19. There have been 23 deaths nationwide due to MIS-C according to the CDC.

Lashonda said the Glenns are sharing their story in hopes everyone will understand the importance of practicing the COVID-19 protocols of social distancing, hand-washing and wearing a mask.

“If she hadn’t gotten COVID, we might not be in this position,” Lashonda said. “I think a lot of people have gotten lax about following the safety measures. This serves as a reminder we need to still be careful. Also just because you get a negative test result after COVID-19, doesn’t necessarily mean the journey is over.”

Jalyiah returned home before Christmas but her journey is still long.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Lashonda said. “She gives out of breath easily, something she didn’t used to do even with COVID-19. Her walking is limited and she needs a walker. She still has pains. Things have improved. I hope she keeps improving to where she can return to playing basketball at Benjamin Russell. It is all in God’s hands now.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.