EARLY YEARS: Roanoke County 9-year-old briefly lost ability to walk after battle with COVID-19

Natalie Thorell was diagnosed with Acute Viral Myositis
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:05 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - 9-year-old Natalie Thorell loves to dance. But just after Christmastime, she was afraid she might never get to dance again.

“I didn’t know what I had. I didn’t know if my legs had been damaged and there was something going on and I can’t dance,” says Natalie.

December 11, Natalie tested positive for COVID-19, right after her dad and brother. They quarantined, and had relatively mild symptoms.

“We were able to stop quarantining and isolating a couple of days before Christmas, which as a mom was really nice to have my family all back together. We thought we were in the clear,” says Natalie’s mom, Kathleen Thorell.

But the day after Christmas, Natalie says her legs started to feel like jello.

“Then the next morning, I started having pain in my legs,” says Natalie.

Natalie went to the see the doctor, and had some tests. The pain, she says, just kept getting worse, and doctors said she needed an MRI.

“They wanted her to have it sooner rather than later, because a lot of her symptoms were some pretty scary things,” says Thorell.

The MRI came back normal. Next came blood work and a spinal tap.

“And then the nurses came in and, they hooked me up to all this stuff. I had a ton of wires all over me,” says Natalie.

Finally, neurologists were able to determine Natalie was suffering from Acute Viral Myositis.

As Natalie explains, ”Basically, it’s me fighting off COVID. But COVID kind of got into my muscles and I was trying to fight it.”

Acute viral myositis is said to be a rare condition that occurs during the recovery phase of an illness. It usually causes muscle pain and weakness.

“What they explained to us is that it’s not a very common reaction to a viral attack. But they’ve seen it mostly with like, the flu,” says Thorell.

Natalie’s experience in the hospital only lasted a couple days, but it’s one she won’t likely forget.

“At one point, I was actually really scared, but then I started getting better. It wasn’t as bad,” says Natalie.

“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty tough. That’s probably the last thing you want to see your child go through,” says Thorell.

Now Natalie’s back to dancing, and preparing for competition season.

We asked her what she wants other kids to keep in mind when it comes to COVID.

“Going through all this and knowing that I’d get to be with my family eventually again helped me push through every day.”

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