(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)
Then came the confusion.
People began to gather around me and question me. Some said, “You’re going to have to do something.” Others said, “You need to take him to the emergency room.” The Huddleston’s cell phone rang, and it was my mom. Her friend who is a nurse had told her frightening tales of strongyloides and said to let her know if I decided to go to Duke or Baptist Hospital because she knew some people who could possibly help. My parents were very worried.
I sat on the pew in a daze, seeing an ocean of concerned faces above me, all offering advice. They loved me and were only trying to be helpful, but I felt so confused, so dizzy. Tracey sat down beside me and touched my hand. She, too, felt the confusion and knew I must be about to go crazy. She said softly, “Why don’t you go on over to Rusty and Vicki’s?” She felt that I should get out of there immediately.
Joy sat down behind me and put her hand on my back. She began to whisper, “Lord, give her faith. You are not the spirit of confusion, Lord. Help her be strong.” Those two calming hands on me—Tracey’s and Joy’s—were what I needed right then. I stood up and said, “I’m going to Rusty and Vicki’s.”
As I walked to the back door, I paused to read some pages Polly had printed off the Internet regarding strongyloides. When I got to the part about the itching sores in the hinder parts, which is where the parasites make their exit in the night hours, I stopped in my tracks, my eyes large. I grabbed Chelsea and yelled, “Keith, come with us to the bathroom!” The three of us nearly filled the tiny nursery bathroom. We examined her and found the evidence of the parasites in open, bloody sores—just another sign that the original lab technician was right about his diagnosis of strongyloides.
Everything in the paper fit us to a tee—nausea followed by a remission followed by more nausea, primarily at night when parasites are most active. Strongyloides migrate from small intestine to lungs and lay eggs with each migration in each place. Respiratory symptoms often follow the abdominal symptoms. We had also noticed that very thing in our case.
We spent the afternoon in the peace and quiet of Rusty and Vicki’s house. At last, I felt a calming stillness that allowed me to regain my faith and strength. The children rested while we four adults sat around the table and talked. Our assistant pastor’s wife, Teddi Lane, had put in a call to her doctor in Kernersville whom I had liked immensely when I had met her months ago. We were waiting to see if perhaps that doctor would meet us at her office.
I wanted the ELISA test—a special blood test which detects strongyloides by a blood serum antibody level without all of the mess and time lapse of yet another stool sample. When the call came that only a nurse on call was available, my heart sank again. Elijah was getting weaker and weaker; his stomach was distended with bloating, a sign of the third and critical stage of parasite infestation.
Then Teddi called back with a suggestion. Her daughter, Tanzy, worked for a doctor at Baptist Hospital. That doctor was on her way to the hospital at that very moment and had suggested we take Elijah to the Pediatric Emergency Room to see if the attending physician, whom she highly recommended, would administer the blood test. My interest was sparked. Elijah could simply go in, have blood drawn and come home without being admitted and used as a guinea pig.
Keith agreed and took off with a pale Elijah in his arms. I thought my heart would be torn from my chest as I watched them leave. My little boy needed his mommy with him, but baby Abigail still relied solely on me for her food, so I couldn’t leave.
The rest of the afternoon was a tortuously lonely time for me. Rusty went outside to work on a car, Vicki went to the basement to get some rest and the children watched a movie. Poor Vicki had been up all night helping Robin deliver the baby at the hospital. She had unselfishly come to church that morning just to pray with us.
The whole time we had been at her house, she had been talking about the labor she had just witnessed. At first, I was puzzled. Here we were going through the biggest crisis of our lives, and Vicki wanted to keep talking about a woman I didn’t even know having her baby?!!
Then I realized that Vicki wasn’t being insensitive at all. She saw a genuine parallel with the labor and our situation. When Robin’s epidural wouldn’t take, and the pain was intense, she had to travail for the entire night. When Vicki prayed about our sickness, the Lord told her to tell us to push on through—no matter what.
He also spoke to her saying, “What will you do when the epidural won’t work?” Like Robin, would we keep pressing on through the pain toward deliverance or give up? Tears welled up in her eyes as she told us what the Lord wanted us to do. Here was all of this proof that God wanted to do His sovereign work; my faith was increasing steadily.
As I sat upstairs, all alone, the phone rang. It was Keith, and he was upset. They wouldn’t even let him go back to the Pediatric ER without full admission to the hospital. He told me to call Tanzy and see if she knew what the deal was.
Tanzy was puzzled; she said Elijah’s name had been given to the attending physician who was waiting for their arrival. When I called the hospital back, the Pediatric ER nurses told me this was true; they had my son’s name and wanted to know where he was. And still the front desk people wouldn’t let Keith go back to the nurses until he went to registration and admitted the little buddy.
I was again stunned! We were being hindered everywhere we went. As I hung up the phone from talking to Keith, whom the hospital had located for me, he sounded resigned and said, “I’m headed to registration to admit Elijah.”
At that moment, a van pulled into the driveway. It was my herbalist friend, Barbara Whaley. We sat on the front porch and talked awhile. She had brought me some herbs that could possibly help us feel better. As we went inside to the dining area, I suddenly got an overwhelmingly strong feeling in my gut.
“Barbara,” I said, “I just talked to Keith at the hospital, and he’s in the process of admitting Elijah. I don’t want that. I want the blood test and that’s all. I don’t want him in a hospital bed in a room without me there, with him so sick and hooked up to machines.”
Barbara nodded in agreement. “Call him back,” she said, “and tell him to get Elijah out of there even if he has to boldly pick him up and walk out.”
Instantly the phone rang. It was Joy. She read me some scriptures in Hebrews that spoke of rest; I was comforted. I asked her to help me pray and explained to her that I was about to call the hospital one more time. She agreed to pray. As I dialed the Baptist Hospital number, Barbara sat at the dining room table, praying in the Spirit as hard as she could pray.
When the front desk finally located Keith, he had already admitted Elijah and was waiting in a room for the doctor to come in. I told him to insist on the blood test and not to let them keep him, no matter what. He agreed. Hanging up the phone, I felt relieved. At least I had done my part to bring Elijah back home.
(NOTE: I am not against hospitals; thank God for the purpose they serve and for the many great doctors/nurses there! I cannot explain why we were led this way in this case, but when you feel a strong leading of the Spirit of God, you need to follow that—no matter what.)
After Barbara left, Vicki woke up from her short nap. I decided to pray in her bedroom while she got ready to take her daughter, Ashley, to church for youth choir practice. Vicki and I had decided to wait for Keith to get back from the hospital before going to church ourselves.
I had prayed just a little while, asking God to guide us, when Vicki knocked softly on the door. She came into the room, looking apologetic for bothering me. She said, “I felt like there was something I had to tell you, but since you were praying, I decided to take Ashley on to church then come back home and tell you then. But when I passed this closed door, I felt I needed to tell you right now.”
Needless to say, I was intently listening. Vicki smiled and said, “When Robin was laboring early this morning on her hands and knees, determined to finish having the baby with no more medicine, the anesthesiologist came in and said, ‘I recommend you have a second epidural.’ Robin, in intense pain, said, ‘No thanks.’ After a while, the anesthesiologist repeated firmly, ‘I think you need another epidural.’ Again Robin replied, ‘No thank you.’ She was weak but determined to travail to the end.
“When Robin’s doctor entered the room, the anesthesiologist, probably thinking she now had an ally in this effort to get Robin to take the medicine, said arrogantly, ‘It is my recommendation, Doctor, that she have another epidural now.’ The doctor looked calmly at her and said, ‘Thank you, but we won’t be needing your assistance.’”
Just as Vicki paused with a smile on her face, the phone rang. The timing was perfect. It was Keith. He said, “The doctor thinks Elijah is in bad shape and needs to stay here overnight with I.V.’s and the works, even though he admits we’ve done a good job of keeping Pedialyte in him, and he’s not dehydrated yet. When I hesitated, he left the room and came back with two other doctors, including the head of the department. They recommend that Elijah stay here and be turned over to the infectious disease specialist who will be in on Monday morning. They don’t know anything about strongyloides and don’t even have the ELISA test. Leslie, the pressure is on me. What do you think I should do?”
I quickly told this to Vicki. She merely smiled and said, “Tell him to tell them, ‘Thank you, but we won’t be needing your assistance.’” I then hurriedly told Keith the story about Robin and the epidural, but he was too stressed to really listen.
He said, “Pray for me. I don’t know what to do. I guess I’m coming home. I’ll tell them if Elijah isn’t better after church tonight, we’ll be back tomorrow morning.” I hung up the phone and sighed. There seemed to be stumbling-blocks every way we turned. Little did I know, the doctors were stern with Keith and made him sign a paper saying he was taking Elijah home against their recommendation, and they were not to be held responsible if anything bad happened to him.
While we waited on Keith to come back, I got on the phone to Chapel Hill and then to Duke. Neither of them could do the ELISA test in-house. They would have to send the blood work to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and wait perhaps a week for the results. For some reason (probably the fact that I wanted to go on Oprah Winfrey’s show to tell how our doctors misdiagnosed us so that others with parasites would take heed and get help), I was determined to find someone to do that blood test.
Rusty was back inside by now and sat silently at the table. He had indeed been at church that morning and had been very much affected by what took place as we went to the altar with our family. For the rest of the day, he had been extremely quiet. I suddenly desperately wanted him to go with us to church that night. I began to beg while he shook his head no. I followed him around the house begging, even when he went into the basement. I was crying and desperate. I knew that tonight was the last hope for us. My little boy was possibly dying.
Finally Rusty shook his head yes. He’d go with us to church, but he wouldn’t carry Elijah to the altar as I was also asking him to do. As he went into his room to get dressed, I went into the kitchen and fell to my knees at the table. I had never been more desperate in my life. Keith and Elijah were back, and everyone was waiting for Rusty. It seemed to take forever. As we walked out to get into the car, I tearfully asked him one more time to take my son to the altar. He didn’t answer.
To this day, I’m not sure why I felt that Rusty had to carry Elijah into this second service. Perhaps it was the ultimate act of humility on Rusty’s part—a man who was running from God at that time—which would help remove hindrances to our healing.
All the way to church, Keith and I prayed in the Spirit. The night service had been going for a good while, so we felt the need to hurry. As we all parked in the back parking lot, I was still crying and praying. No one knows desperation like a mother, at the point of total exhaustion, who feels she is about to lose her child. As we approached the door, Rusty quietly said, “Give Elijah to me.” I thought I’d faint right then and there.
TO BE CONTINUED…..See Part VI at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-vi-the-visible-miracle/ .
I just realized tonight that there will be 7 parts of this story. I did not plan that; it “just happened” to end up as God’s perfect number 7. I simply divided it up into readable increments, and this was the result.