When my daughter stiffened, turned blue and fell on the floor in convulsions, I was terrified. What was wrong with her?
My 17-year-old daughter had always been incredibly healthy. In the seven years since my husband and I had adopted Masha from Russia, she had never really been ill. I’ve never seen her vomit or have a fever. She routinely receives perfect school attendance awards.
That was Masha’s health record until May 2011, when a large “thump” brought me to the bathroom where she was taking a shower. I found her unconscious and convulsing on the floor of the bathtub, a trickle of blood running from her mouth. I yelled for my husband to call 911, and prayed as I lifted her head from the water collecting around her. The emergency room doctor surmised that it was a faint: typical in teenage girls who skip a meal and grow dizzy in the hot shower. The blood was from her biting her tongue as she fell.
A few weeks ago, we learned that the doctor’s assessment of the situation was wrong. Although we didn’t know what to call it at the time, my daughter had two grand mal epileptic seizures in one afternoon. My husband and youngest son watched as Masha fell off her chair and onto the floor, biting her tongue again as her muscles stiffened. Masha’s eyes rolled back and her muscles jerked as my husband and son knelt near her feeling helpless.
Once she had stopped convulsing and could move normally, they called the church where I was serving a supper and drove her to the hospital emergency room. My cell phone wasn’t working, so the phone message came from our youth pastor: “Your daughter has had an incident and is at the ER.” As I drove to the hospital, I was frantic. “Lord Jesus!” I prayed, “Please take care of Masha. Please be with her. Help me to be strong.”
At the hospital, I talked with my daughter as she sat in a wheelchair. After a short time, her head bent low and she did not respond. It was the beginning of her second seizure of the day. As the doctor and nurses moved my daughter to an examining table and struggled to hold her down so they could administer calming medicine, my family prayed together. Then I stood next to my strong girl, who was fighting the four nurses trying to keep her still so she did not injure herself before the medicine took effect. I spoke soothingly to her in hopes that she would hear my voice and relax, but her brain had been overwhelmed by the seizures and she was not responding normally. Not long after, she was taken by ambulance to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn.
As my husband rode to St. Paul in the ambulance, I took my son home and tried to help calm his worried mind. I read Psalm 23 aloud, and we prayed. The plan was for him to stay with his cousins the next day and for me to drive to the hospital in the morning.
I’m not sure I would have slept except for the fact that I must take a medication that helps me sleep. When I woke around 5 a.m., my mind began to worry to the point of complete panic. What if there is something seriously wrong with her brain, I thought. What if it is a brain tumor? A list of horrible consequences flashed through my mind. I prayed, because I knew God was real and he would hear me. I had no control over this situation, and I was overcome with fear. I felt physically ill as I prayed and prayed – a nonstop, jumbled mix of words that tried to communicate my love for my daughter with the only One who knew what has happening to her.
I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. Then the Almighty God, the Prince of Peace, answered me. An overwhelming sense of peace flooded my physical body and my mind. I knew God was telling me that Masha would be OK. I still didn’t know what the hospital tests would show. I still didn’t know if Masha was facing death or a drastically impaired life. But I knew that the Lord Jesus Christ was with me and had assured me that she would be fine. I know that healing and “being fine” isn’t always God’s will, because everyone has an appointment with suffering and death. But this was not my daughter’s time.
My husband can tell you that I’m adept at worrying. So I know it was God’s peace that allowed me to step into the shower that morning and start singing, “My God is an awesome God.”
Masha was in the hospital for two and a half days, but the doctors who are experts in children’s seizures found nothing structurally wrong with her brain. The MRI, the EEGs – all the tests were consistent. With anti-seizure medicine and regular check-ups, she would be able to go on with her life. While we all wonder if she will face another seizure, we are also trusting in a loving God and his plan.
Psalm 62: 2-3 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
Psalm 62:5-6 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope come from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.