Melissa - January 1, 2010
November 27th. ER Trauma room
Do I believe in miracles? Oh, yes. I believe. I have seen miracles. I AM a miracle. My daughter, Melissa, is a miracle.
When I think back to that Friday morning, November 27th, God readily reminds me of what He did in Melissa's life beginning that very day. Indeed, a miracle had just started taking shape.
After several days of feeling bad and not getting any better, I knew that it was time for Melissa to go to the doctor. She didn't want to go. She said she was too weak to get up and get in the car. All the doctors offices were closed due to the Thankskgiving holiday, but I finally managed to get her up and out the door and we headed to the ER at our local, small-town hospital. I was still thinking that she had the flu and just needed some medicine and then we would be on our way home.
When we got there, the nurse asked Melissa what was wrong and she said in a very soft voice, "I think I have malaria". I wish you could have seen the look on the nurses face as she took a step back and just kinda looked at us both for a moment.
Melissa quietly told her it wasn't contagious, but explained about her trip to Africa for 10 weeks and said that she had been home for 10 days, so with the incubation period, it was possible that she did have it. Melissa saw a lot of malaria while she was working at the hospital in Cameroon, Africa. She was familiar with the symptoms and treatment of it. Most of the time they gave them medicine for 3 days and then they went home, so she didn't seem too worried about it.
As I really began looking at Melissa while we were waiting, I noticed that her eyes and face seemed very yellow. She had been in bed the last few days in the dark, so I hadn't really had a chance to see her face very well. I quietly took out my compact to look at my eyes in that room lighting and my eyes were very white. I handed the mirror to Melissa so she could look at hers and she was a little taken aback and just looked at me with fear in her eyes. It was at that moment that I knew there was something seriously wrong with my baby girl. My heart began beating fast. But, He was there.
As the girl from the lab came in to draw blood, I had her look at Melissa's face and eyes. She agreed that she was very yellow and after she drew several tubes of blood, left to go find the doctor.
The doctor on call sent for another doctor, Dr. Toe Ho, who is from the Philippines, and she was very familiar with malaria. Once she arrived, things started moving and they began drawing more blood and asking many questions. I had told her about Melissa's eyes and skin color and she said that she was definitely jaundiced.
When Dr. Toe Ho came back in, she told me that she herself had done a blood smear and lyced the red blood cells and that based on her knowledge, she was 99% sure that she had malaria. She also noted that her platelets were extremely low - 19,000 - and said that Melissa needed to be at a bigger hospital, where they could give her platelets if necessary.
After 5 hours at the ER in Oak Grove, Melissa was headed to Monroe by ambulance. I was alone as my husband had left that morning for New Orleans to watch a football game. He didn't have his vehicle and had no way home. I was scared and I was angry. My heart was racing and anxiety was threatening to take over. I began to pray and to seek comfort in the Lord. And He was there.
The next 12 hours are a blur. We wound up in the ER trauma room all night until they could find her a room in ICU. The doctor on call, Dr. Warnke, was from India and he was very familiar with malaria - God just kept putting the right doctors in the right place.
They spent the better part of the night and morning researching on the computer and trying to find her the medicine that she needed. They contacted CDC in Atlanta and by that afternoon on Saturday, her clinical trial doses of Artesunate and Malarone, were being flown to Monroe on a Delta flight and being picked up by a pharmacist and delivered to the hospital. Her first dose was given with much fanfare. Many came to watch, as this was something new and different.
Final diagnosis was P. Falciparum severe complicated malaria. The parasites had taken over her red blood cells. They had destroyed her platelets. They had settled in her liver and spleen, causing enlargement and pain. Her AST liver enzymes were in the 300's - normal is 5-40. Her hemoglobin fell to below 6 (normal is 12-15). She was almost at the point of blood transfusion, but God took over. Her bilrubin was over 16 - normal is .3-1 mg/dL. Her platelets dropped overnight to 11,000. She was 1,000 away from getting platelets. But God took over. She had fever spikes to 105. She was lethargic and weak. She hurt all over her body. She was retaining fluid from the systematic nature of the illness. She was a very sick girl, or as Dr. Parker put it, "she's one sick little puppy."
Each step of the way, God was there. He was guiding, leading, comforting, strengthening. He was performing a miracle on Melissa. He was letting others see His power and might. He was helping me learn to lean on Him more readily. He was there.
Over the next 6 days, Melissa slowly began to heal. Her counts began to normailze and she began to have a little more energy. By the time we brought her home, she was still very weak, but she was on the road to full recovery. And God was still working.
At her last 3 check-ups, she has steadily gotten better results. Her last lab work showed her liver enzymes to be normal for the first time. ALT was 32 and AST was 36! Her platelets were 274,000. Her bilirubin was 1.8 ( a little high, but still very good.) Her hemoglobin was still only 10, but he said she was making so many red blood cells, that the differential of them was causing it to be a little low. She goes back on the 28th for more blood work, since her numbers were still a little off.
Did God perform a miracle? Oh, yes. He took my sick little girl, and put the right people in the right place at just the right time. He healed her body. He healed her soul. He was there.
Did this miracle impact others? Oh, indeed. Doctors that came in heard us giving glory to God in all things. Nurses heard the gospel. People in the ICU waiting room were witness to His sovereignty and power. Everyone that asks about her gets to hear about the miracle of her healing.
After 5 weeks, Melissa was finally feeling good enough to get out of the house. She went with a group of 40 kids from her church in Baton Rouge to the Passion 2010 conference in Atlanta. She wasn't feeling well as they left that Saturday morning at 4 am, and called me crying, but I prayed with her over the phone and she was determined to go. I told her if the devil was that intent on causing her to miss it, that God has something amazing for her to experience! She is having a wonderful time and I look forward to hearing about her trip. God saved her for a purpose. He saved her spiritually and he saved her physically.
And He was there all the time.