Blount County mom plans to spend Christmas in ICU with son, shares his COVID journey


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As the countdown to Christmas has come to an end, the countdown for a Blount County mom to bring her son home from the intensive care unit will continue.

Joshua Wallace, 17, has been battling COVID-19 for three weeks. The journey started with a fever and eventually included a ventilator.

He has a rare bone disorder, called arthrogryposis, that makes walking difficult and weakens his immune system. The disorder has lead to other health problems, including weight gain.

These factors, on top of coronavirus, are reasons Josh is still in the hospital. Now his mother, Crystal Wallace, is sharing his story with the hope of convincing other parents to double down on their virus prevention efforts.

Despite some nausea and vomiting Wednesday, Joshua is making progress.

“Whenever I had the virus, I had 105 [degree] fever, which was one of the worst things. It was, just all the symptoms, are really bad,” he said.

Twenty days until Christmas, he was admitted to the hospital and struggling to breathe.

“They took me to the side and they said, ‘look, we’re going to do everything we can for him.’ I’m up here by myself. My husband is at home because he’s sick. I’m sick. … That fear of what’s going to happen next set in,” Crystal said.

“Whenever I had the ventilator, I was really scared because I didn’t know if I’d still be breathing. When I fell asleep, I felt scared because I didn’t know if I’d still be breathing, through the whole process,” Josh said.

A few days ago, Crystal celebrated her son, as he went an entire 24-hour period with no fever and was able to begin weaning off the ventilator. She described his progress with two words: baby steps. He took more of those steps Monday when he was switched to a C-PAP machine after 18 days on the ventilator.

“If your kid gets it you’re going to be wishing they didn’t because it is very scary to watch your kid suffer trying to beath. Every breath is being pushed through his body by a machine. What if that machine stops,” Wallace added.

There is a GoFundMe to help Josh’s family financially and follow his progress. His parents lost income while taking turns staying at the hospital, and fighting the virus themselves.

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