‘How did this happen?’: Doctor shares 4-year-old son’s harrowing battle with COVID-19

Dr. Anna Zimmermann is just like any parent, except for the fact that she’s a practicing neonatologist and has a 4-year-old who is battling COVID-19.

Zimmermann works at the Presbyterian/St. Luke's and Rocky Mountain Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado. She has been practicing for more than 10 years and actively blogs about her life as a mom and doctor.


Doctor blogs 4-year-old's experience after positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

But her recent posts have gotten more personal. Ever since her son, Lincoln, was diagnosed with COVID-19, Zimmermann has documented his experience battling the virus.

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During the early stages, Zimmermann said that she wasn’t too concerned about her son, who sneezed a few times on Mar. 21. As any mom who knows her children and, in this case, practices medicine herself, she chalked it up to allergies.“The following day he got a stuffy nose and slight cough. He didn’t have a fever and I wasn’t super worried, I assumed he picked up a little cold,” Zimmermann wrote in her blog.


Lincoln and Zimmermann visit the doctor's office after his symptoms don't improve.

Then, just six days after his sneezing began, Lincoln got a fever of 104.5. Zimmermann took him to his doctor, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and was sent home with antibiotics. Zimmermann monitored him for the next 48 hours.

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“He had moments where he looked totally fine, and other moments where he looked sick. But overall, I thought he was OK,” Zimmermann wrote. After a few days of treatment at home, Lincoln started having a harder time breathing and Zimmermann brought him to the hospital.

“At about 7 pm on our second night in the hospital, we got the news. The nighttime doctor came in and introduced herself and took a look at Lincoln,” she wrote. “Then she told me - Lincoln had tested positive for COVID-19. I just started crying. He was getting worse quickly and now I was scared.”


'As a mom, it was torture watching him struggle.'

Health care workers with children are in a unique position: They know it all, which some people would consider a blessing, but it’s also a double-edged sword because they have seen the worst that can happen.

Zimmermann said she was confounded by how her son could have contracted the coronavirus, since her family had taken precautions and had been self-isolating.

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“Since March 12th, the kids have not left the house. My husband went to Costco once. I went to Target once. My kids never went on a playdate. I wouldn’t let them go across the street to talk to their neighborhood friends,” Zimmermann wrote. “We adopted the stay-at-home recommendations early and stuck to them. We did everything right.”

Although her son is improving, according to Zimmermann, it is a hard pill to swallow as a parent to watch your child battling a mysterious sickness with no known cure.


Lincoln getting bedrest after positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

“How did this happen? How? I still don’t understand. I cried for nearly four hours off and on that night. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t turn my brain off. I was terrified,” she wrote.

Zimmermann did highlight a silver lining in these unknown times.

“If one thing is positive about our COVID journey, it is that our community came together to support us,” according to her blog. “We are forever grateful and blessed because our community supported us. And no one blamed or shamed us for our son testing positive. I hope that this sense of community will persist after we move back towards our daily lives after COVID.”

Lincoln is expected to be back home soon.


Lincoln will be home soon.