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She’s 17 and at high risk for the coronavirus

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She's 17 and at high risk for the coronavirus

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The term “high risk for covid” often invokes images of frail seniors with diabetes and hypertension.

Not 17-year-old cheerleaders.

But Sydney Edwards, 17, a senior at Plainfield High School – Central Campus, is both a cheerleader and at high risk for SARS-CoV-2.

Sydney has both asthma and type 1 diabetes.

Since the pandemic began, Sydney’s social life has been curtailed. When she does occasionally see her friends, everyone wears masks and sits 6-feet part.

Ditto for the outside family gatherings they’ve had.

“Everyone’s been very understanding of me,” Sydney said. “That’s made it easier.”

Sydney’s mother Julie Edwards said Sydney’s asthma was worse when she was a baby. Whenever the seasons changed, Sydney started running high fevers and her asthma flared.

The asthma is much more manageable now, Julie said. But Sydney still keeps her inhaler on hand.

“She uses it less than once a month,” Julie said.

On the other hand, Sydney was diagnosed with type 1 – or insulin-dependent – diabetes shortly after her 11th birthday, Julie said.

And that risk is not going away.

For a week before that birthday, Sydney was exhausted and was “using the restroom more,” so Julie made an appointment with Sydney’s pediatrician for the upcoming Monday.

But two days before that appointment, Sydney attended a cheerleading event and Julie prepared for the party. Sydney “didn’t seem like herself” at the party and two relatives commented on Sydney’s weight loss, Julie said.

“That evening she started vomiting,” Julie said. “She was very lethargic and did not want to go to the hospital at first.”

Finally Julie took Sydney to the emergency department.

“When they checked her [blood] sugar, it was 450,” Julie said. “She was in ketoacidosis. It was very serious, and she was transferred to Lurie’s.”

Sydney’s diabetes was tricky to manage at first with Sydney’s fluctuating hormones, but it’s much better now, Julie said.

“Her A1c is 7.2,” Julie said. “But it’s been as high as 10.”

Julie said the family’s vigilance about protecting Sydney’s health increased when the pandemic hit, Julie said.

“She was disappointed, but she understood it,” Julie said.

At the time, Julie’s mother-in-law Pamela (deceased) was undergoing chemotherapy. And Julie’s husband, Courtney Edwards, as captain of the fire department in Evanston, is a first responder.

Courtney did not want to put his family at risk. So he checked into a hotel.

“I decided it was best if I stayed out of the house for a while,” Courtney said.



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