ANTICIPATING test results following a PCR swab for COVID-19 can stir fairly daunting feelings, with uncertainty-driven thoughts.
For the now 12-year-old Kaylee Wood, she waited anxiously as her three other family members' negative results all rolled-in at the same time, yet she was left feeling like the odd one out in the household family of four.
"It was stressing me out knowing that the rest of my family had all gotten their results, and I was the only one who still hadn't," Kaylee said.
I was terrified of not knowing how [COVID] could affect her oxygen, because [with Kaylee being] asthmatic, the reality is that anything could happen.Kaylee's mother, Tori Wood
With a lengthy history of chronic asthma and close to 10 hospital admissions from the acute respiratory condition, Kaylee's mother, Tori Wood has feared the worst for her daughter since the virus arrived on Australian shores.
"When COVID first hit Australia, I remember thinking 'if Kaylee catches this [virus], this is the end of her'," Mrs Wood said.
"She's had such a long and scary respiratory history, and it's absolute hell when she goes downhill."
Kaylee's test results came back, and the family's worst nightmare was confirmed: she had tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite no initial symptoms, Kaylee picked up the virus as a close contact in her Molong school community toward the end of November in 2021, causing an abrupt halt in what the family described as an already tough, "in the wars" last year of primary schooling.
"There's been so many events cancelled for school kids right across the board," Mrs Wood said.
Our primary school presentation and graduation was also cancelled and it feels weird not having a graduation [ceremony] for year six ... it almost feels like you're still there.12-year-old Kaylee Wood
"But being Kaylee's last year of school and not being able to go on a year six camp, or watch their end-of-year movie next to the rest of their friends ... they've been in the wars this year, and it's been really hard for all of them."
Kaylee's also felt a little off-balance between the ending of one school chapter, and the start of the next.
"I missed out on my high school orientation day because of COVID, and also my end-of-year dance concert," she said.
With NSW Health providing the option to quarantine in Dubbo for the 14-day isolation period, Kaylee and her mum separated from the rest of their household to reduce potential viral transmission; though an emotionally difficult commute - that neither of the pair enjoyed reliving - was to follow.
"I was terrified of not knowing how [COVID] could affect her oxygen, because [with Kaylee being] asthmatic, the reality is that anything could happen to her," Mrs Wood said.
"On the way to Dubbo, I asked Kaylee how she was feeling and with her knowing how bad her asthma gets, she said 'mum, if I die from COVID, I want to be buried with my favourite stuffed animal'.
"I remember driving along in absolute shock, feeling devastated that I was hearing my 11-year-old having thoughts about a funeral; while also just trying to accept how she was feeling at that time.
"I had my [sunglasses] on trying not to have the welling of tears from my eyes fall down my face, because I didn't want to let her see her mum upset."
Admitted to hospital on the children's ward for an asthma attack just three-weeks prior to contracting the virus, shockingly, Kaylee ended up having extremely mild symptoms; and a surprisingly enjoyable break.
"I mean, I did end up getting to watch heaps of TV, and I had a really nice break away from my brother," Kaylee laughed.
"[On] the first night, I had my best friend on the phone which I really liked, but I didn't have any symptoms.
"The main thing I felt was home sick, because I didn't get to see my dad and my three dogs Dodge, Joe, and Teddy."
Kaylee's mum was provided at-home medical equipment by NSW Health to monitor her daughter's symptoms over the two-weeks isolation period, with a phone application to enter data and communicate with hospital staff.
"I monitored her temperature, heart rate, and oxygen levels three times a day into this app," Mrs Wood said.
"And if any of the readings were concerning, we were only 800 metres away from the hospital.
"We got phone calls from [health staff] every day just to check-in on how Kaylee was doing, and to make sure she wasn't going downhill."
To celebrate the end of lockdown, Kaylee's mum treated her to a little shopping spree with a Christmas-themed nails pampering, before the two shared a vastly different car trip on the return back to their family home.
"It's really emotional looking back at the whole experience, because it was just such a scary and terrifying time at the start," Mrs Wood said.
"But getting back home - and knowing Kaylee had battled through - we're just feeling relieved and so grateful today."