(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.)
Chelsea, Elijah and Baby Abigail–just weeks before the parasite crisis began.
Somehow, I forced myself to go to bed, but there was to be very little sleep for me. I lay in bed alone; Keith was sleeping on the couch in the den. My body was so tense that every move the kids made, I jumped. For 17 days, I had heard little feet hit the floor and go running to the bathroom to throw up or have diarrhea. The habit of listening intently for those running footsteps was a hard habit to break—one I had trouble with for weeks afterward.
But the night passed quietly. I prayed almost nonstop, strangely enough not asking for the healing of my children but for the peace of my children. At the same time, I felt the need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Strange, I’ll admit.)
When morning finally came, I was up and on the phone. I began calling the lab to see if the pathologist had arrived yet to look at the parasites. “No,” they continually replied, “he’s not.” One lab tech (the helpful ones from last night were off-duty now) was very arrogant with me and said, “How can anyone prove those parasites in your bathtub really came out of you?”
Well, DUH! In all of these years of my life, I had never found parasites in my bathtub. Now, just when we have what seems to be a parasitic illness, we find them, and the lab says, “You can’t prove they came out of you.” It made no sense whatsoever.
I had even called “Joe,” the friendly lab tech, in the middle of the night to ask him once more, “Are you sure those are strongyloides?”
He said, with no hesitation, “Yes.”
Keith had looked at them under the microscope and said they had horrid teeth and monster faces like something out of “Star Wars.” He helped the lab techs look through their books and charts and compare the worms to the pictures and descriptions. He, too, was sure they were strongyloides. Now if you found strongyloides crawling in your bathtub where you had been cleaning out the bowls you had thrown up in, wouldn’t you say chances are good the parasites came from your body? They are primarily an animal parasite, and we had no animals in our home.
I spent at least one hour on the phone that Sunday morning, calling all around just to see where the medicine Ivermectin could be found. I was determined to go to church that morning, even if we had to be carried in. I was believing God for a miracle, but at the same time, I wanted to know where the medicine was—in case we needed it later. (Some faith, huh?)
Meanwhile, God saw my doubts and began to systematically close every door I tried to open. I called every pharmacy in the area, including the ones at all hospitals from Winston-Salem to Chapel Hill to Duke to Raleigh. No one had Ivermectin nor could tell me how to order it. One pharmacist finally told me I’d have to get it from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. I even called there, but they said my doctor would have to call with a prescription. I felt so helpless, knowing that my doctor wasn’t about to call.
My cousin, who is a pharmacist in Walnut Cove, said he was giving his horse Ivermectin for strongyloides right now. If horses in Walnut Cove can get them, then they are definitely in our soil here. Our pastor even thought that was what his dog had had some years ago.
When the time came to leave for church, the pathologist was still not in the lab. We didn’t have a cell phone in those days, so we left Mike and Annette Huddleston’s mobile phone number with the lab so they could contact us at church. Annette, a close friend for many years, had called me earlier that morning, quite agitated. She had been praying for us when God told her to call and read Ephesians 6:12 to me: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wickedness in high places.”
Annette didn’t know why I needed to hear that, but I did. I, like Pastor Eaves in Mississippi, and the friend who had called to ask if we had taken anything into our house since the sickness began, felt an evil stronghold here. This was more than just sickness; there was a demonic component. You may laugh that off, but if you had been walking in my shoes since October 8, you would believe it.
We dressed the children as best we could. We were all so weak that we looked fairly pitiful, with Elijah in purple sweatpants and a Lion King sweatshirt. I was pale and plain, but at this point, fancy clothes and makeup didn’t matter to me. I needed the Lord to move for us, and I needed it NOW.
We crowded into our little blue car, kids stacked on top of each other in the backseat–towels and throw-up bowls in hand—and off we went. Because of my last phone call with the lab, we were running behind schedule. Suddenly, about five miles from home on an empty country road, there was a roadblock. I couldn’t believe my eyes! They were doing roadwork on a very minor road on a Sunday morning. To my memory, this had never happened to us before on a Sunday.
I began to panic, but Keith was strangely calm. He just looked at me and said, “I expected this, so calm down. We are going to be hindered getting to church. It’s not over yet either. But don’t worry. God’s timing is exactly right.” Finally, the man in charge let us drive on through.
We went another five miles on our usual route and suddenly saw a big sign that read: “ROAD CLOSED. MUST DETOUR.” I looked at Keith in total disbelief. Since he had felt this was coming, he just smiled. We had to hit Interstate 40 and go a totally different route. By now, I was certain we would be late, but I finally had confidence that God would be right on time.
The closer we got to our church in Winston-Salem, the harder we prayed. When, at last, we saw that huge white steeple stretching high into the sky, the relief was intense. I began to cry, sobbing, “I have never been so glad to see that church.” I had always loved Christ Temple, but now it seemed like such a refuge.
I knew service had already started, and for that reason, I dreaded walking in late—just us alone. Thank God, when we pulled into the back parking lot, our friend, Lisa Stevens, and her family were pulling in right beside us. They had been praying around the clock for our family for days, sometimes even getting up in the night every hour to pray, setting their alarm clocks to remind them. When I saw them, I began to sob even more—out of pure relief.
As we opened the door to the church, we could hear the music swelling and voices raised in singing. It was a beautiful sound, and we all began to weep even harder. We opened the door to the sanctuary and marched up the aisle, Elijah laid out in Keith’s arms like Isaac in Abraham’s.
Little did we know, something supernatural was going on with Tracey. She had been worshipping God with all of the others for about 10 minutes. Suddenly, she began to pray for God to dispatch His angels to the altar—that it was time. As she opened her eyes, we walked by her to the altar.
Needless to say, even with all the detours that morning, God was right on time.
As Keith laid Elijah on the altar, pretty much the entire church left their pews and gathered around us, praying with heartfelt fervency. I fell onto my knees on the altar steps as the preachers anointed us. Our praise leader, Steve Marler, led the praise team in “I Have A Friend” and other worshipful songs to help usher in the presence of God. We prayed for a while, then gradually people returned to the pews so the service could move on. Our friend, Sarah Widener, in tears, whispered in my ear, “God told me Wednesday that something marvelous would happen today.”
Periodically, I had to leave the service to answer a call on Mike and Annette’s cell phone. At one point, the doctor’s office called to say that the pathologist wouldn’t even look at the parasites because there was no written order to do so. They were faxing one to the lab at that moment. I was so flabbergasted. This whole thing was like a twisted and sick comedy.
I sat in the hall just outside the sanctuary, mouth open, phone in hand—unable to believe the hindrances set up against us. At that point, I felt hope oozing out of me. We had pushed ourselves to come to church, obey God and lay our child on the altar. Yet it seemed that nothing had changed.
Suddenly, the special singing group for the morning, led by my dear friend, Tammy Crawford, began to sing. Tammy’s voice rang out: “If when you have done your very best, And it seems you just can’t stand the test, Keep holdin’ on, The darkest hour is just before light, God said He would make things all right!” That was the very song they had sung in December 1995, the first service I attended after Elijah’s birth. I had been very down at that time (postpartum blues), and that song seemed to heal some of the hurt. Now, October 25, 1998, they were singing the same song, and I took it as a welcome sign.
(NOTE: Click on the link below to hear Tammy singing this song, backed by my daughter Meghann and me, at the healing service we held on Saturday night, Oct. 24, 2015, as commemorated the 17th anniversary of our healing.)
Keith sat on our pew with a still-sick Elijah in his arms. The girls sat wanly beside him. Then came the call from the doctor that the pathologist couldn’t positively identify the parasites, but that he didn’t think they were anything to worry about and probably hadn’t even come out of our bodies. I sat in stunned silence then asked, “So what are you going to do?”
“Well,” said the doctor, “bring Elijah back tomorrow, and we’ll start all over—maybe some new stool samples.” I smiled grimly as I hung up the phone. The medical field was closing all doors on us. I had never seen anything so ridiculous in my entire life.
The physician’s assistant who had called Keith yesterday to check on Elijah had already seemed upset with us that we didn’t immediately start the antibiotic and Zantac. Now they were telling us they wanted to start all over again. The girls and I probably had time to start over; Elijah did not. If we had given him the antibiotic, he probably would’ve been dead already, since Septra would’ve killed the few good bacteria that were left lining his intestines. An antibiotic can’t differentiate which is good or bad bacteria, so it wipes them all out. And who knows what Zantac would’ve done to Elijah had we given it to him?
Just as our pastor, Bob Williams, was starting the sermon, I walked back up to our pew and whispered the doctor’s news to Keith. He just stared numbly at me. The doctors were no help, and none of us seemed healed yet; what more were we to do?
Then we stood with the congregation to read the Scripture, II Kings 20:1-11. When I heard the name “Hezekiah,” I perked up, then began to smile. It was too uncanny. Our pastor was preaching on Hezekiah being sick unto death, and Pastor Bob had stated that this was something he had been planning to preach for a while. In other words, it had nothing to do with our situation. (Oh, but it did!)
As the Word spoke of Hezekiah turning his face to the wall to weep and remind the Lord of how he had been a faithful servant, Bob pointed to us and said we had the right to ask for healing. I knew he was right. We had not been perfect, by any means, but we had diligently tried to serve the Lord all these years.
I kept reminding the Lord that today, October 25, was a very special day for me. Seventeen years ago that day, He had baptized me with the Holy Ghost. I kept saying, “Jesus, this is my Holy Ghost birthday. I want healing as my birthday present.” As I sat there praying that, I thought how Elijah had been born on the 17th. This was my 17th “birthday.” This was the 17th day of our sickness. Then Bob told of how Hezekiah asked for 15 more years. I realized that Elijah was two years old and in 15 more years would be 17. All of these seeming “coincidences” were gathering together in my mind to increase my faith. (Note: It hit me as I began to publish this blog in 2015 that it was going online for the first time ever at the 17th anniversary of the healing. Another 17!)
Then we read verse 7. Isaiah the prophet told the people to place figs on Hezekiah’s boil. I almost gasped aloud. I had just read that figs are one of the best foods to combat parasites. This was too much to deny!
Then came verse 8 where Hezekiah asks, “What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me?” Isaiah said that since it was a hard thing for the shadow to go backwards, that would be the sign. I nearly came out of my seat in astonishment! This day, October 25, was the day that Daylight Saving Time had ended, and the clocks were turned backwards one hour. This was absolutely not coincidence! I was flying high now. These things HAD to be the sign of our healing.
But still I didn’t know what to do. When altar call came, I walked to the front and sat on the front pew. I bowed my head and repeated over and over again, “I need you to talk to me, Lord. I need you to talk to me, Lord.” Then our organist, Chuck Lewis, began to lead the praise team in the song, “We Need to Hear From You.” I began to weep with the knowledge that even the altar song fit exactly what I was praying at that exact time. Everything was fitting together like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. Surely the healing was coming!
TO BE CONTINUED…..See Part V at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-v-in-the-stillness-before-the-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.