My writing has always been relative to my experiences in life. But this time when I started to write, I was bit hesitant. I asked myself ‘should I write?’ Then again, ‘why am I hesitating to express what’s in my mind?’ I deliberated for a while, and then decided that having kept everything in my heart for the last four years, today, I want to share those harrowing moments, which changed and brought light in my life.
A child is always special in the eyes of his or her parents. To us, our child is not only special, but she is indeed a miracle from God because through His divine intervention we have Jemina with us today. Jemina means ‘little dove’ in Hebrew.
Nothing can prepare us parents, that they will be unable to coax normal life into their child. We only know too well the conflicting emotions and sheer terror. Four years ago, Jemina, our younger daughter, lay tethered to wires and so close to death ? waiting for a miracle…
It was like any other day, Monday morning of 30th April, 2001, our elder daughter Jovina went to school and as usual I kept my little one, Jemina of 90 days old, at the Baby Care Takers. In the evening, I went and brought my baby home. But I noticed my little angel was just lying quiet and unmoving. I asked my husband Joe if anything was wrong with her? Jemina is normally a cheerful kid, always smiling and we could not comprehend as to why she was asleep. Talking to her Baby Care Taker, we learnt that she had fever since afternoon but they feared to give her any paracetamol. So, without waiting any further, we administered her a dose of pediatric paracetamol. 4th May, was a big day for Jovina, who was to receive First Holy Communion. So, Joe and Jovina went to distribute party invitations to our friends and relatives.
I was watching dejectedly, at my little baby, so drained and asleep and wanted to comfort and love her. After a half an hour nap, she woke up with a feeble cry. Her face was completely run-down and her eyes looked tired. I carried her in my arms and held her close whispering, ‘Don’t you worry, I am with you, smile my little one’. At around 9:30 pm the fever started rising again. In desperation, I called my friend, who advised me to sponge her with running water. Was I glad that the fever came down immediately, but for my own sanity gave her another dose of paracetamol. We were happy to note that the fever had subsided and Jemina was sleeping peacefully.
Next morning at 3:00, Jemina’s groaning woke me up. Jemina had high fever again and worriedly I gave her another dose of paracetamol and waited for morning to come. At around 8:00 am, I took Jemina to the nearby clinic. Upon checking her, the doctor asked me to rush her to Mubarak hospital. After very long formalities and tests, we managed a hospital bed for Jemina only at 16:45. A Senior Kuwaiti Male doctor took my child’s case and did her lumber puncture (LP) and blood culture. He reassured us, saying nothing was serious, and that she was having a viral fever. Though we could see that she was turning pale by the minute.
Monday, 2nd May, we were waiting for the blood culture and LP report, a Mangalorean nurse attending my child, seemed upset about our Jemina. We asked her why after all the medication and attention, my baby was not responding?’ She simply patted me on my shoulder and said ‘don’t worry, just keep praying for your child’. Her response unnerved me, and since am not so well versed with medicines, I could not understand what medicines she was being treated with. We were raging at the fact that once in every few minutes they were taking her blood on the pretext of testing. For God’s sake Jemina was just 90 days old and so many painful pokes!
On 3rd May, early morning at 7:00, Jemina was taken for her second LP, We weren’t allowed inside with her, and it was killing us to hear her cry. To those of you who don’t know what a lumber puncture is, believe me when I say its a painful, it is indeed a painful procedure. A procedure in which cerebrospinal fluid is withdrawn by means of a needle inserted into the membrane space in the region of the lower back. This procedure is performed to measure intracranial pressures.
We waited in vain for our baby to open her eyes. Looked for any wee sign of movement. By this time she had stopped taking her feeds. Through the nurse we learnt that my child had BACTERIAL MENINGITIS, a word unheard of, something new to me, a condition which I never knew existed. To make it simpler, the nurse told us, it was brain fever and asked us to keep praying so that Jemina would get well soon.
At 13:30, one of my Egyptian colleagues, a very pious lady, whose son was also admitted in the same hospital for viral fever, came to see Jemina. She anointed my baby with holy oil, perhaps would have only reached the elevator, when Jemina started convulsing from her left side of her forehead to the eye-brows, it then spread to the left hand and lastly to the leg and then she went unconscious. Convulsion was also something new to me, I rushed the nurse to call for the doctor to attend to my baby. They put an oxygen mask on her face and I could see her frothing at the mouth, which was being sucked through a suction tube. After ten minutes when she looked at me I was scared, cos her eyes had turned up and I could see only the white orbs. She was still running a high temperature, and I was unable to move from there even to visit the restroom.
She was kept in isolation. Though visitors were not allowed, friends and relatives swarmed the hospital to see Jemina. Some gave me courage and moral support and some gave me advice. Jemina started getting convulsions now, every 10-15 minutes and I started losing hopes as her condition was deteriorating.
Throughout the night I sat watching and waiting for her, to open her eyes, to see her lovely smile. It was around 4.00 am, when I spoke to my mother about my child’s sickness (till then they were unaware of Jemina’s condition). My mum, a strong lady, calmed me and asked me to maintain my faith in God, advised me to keep praying to Him, she said if “He wishes Jemina to be with you, she will come back to you, if not, she will enjoy in His Kingdom, as an angel”. I wept uncontrollably, hoping she will be fine soon.
Friday, 4 May dawned, the big day in the life of my Jovina, she was receiving Jesus for the first time in her heart. She had prepared well to receive Him. We had informed all our relatives and friends, that there would be no party since Jemina was in a critical condition.
Jemina was heavily sedated with anti-convulsion medicine phenobarb. My cousin and a neighbour said they would look after Jemina and insisted that that I should go home to bless our child Jovina. We had finished saying our prayers along with Jovina, when we received a call from the hospital saying Jemina’s condition was getting worse. Never will I be able to explain how I reached the hospital, only to find her sedated again. Her sedation was temporary, when the medicine would lose its power, she would start convulsing again. Her heart was beating fine so far. Unfortunately, Mubarak hospital did not have an ICU for children at that time and she required to be on ‘life-support’ urgently.
Suddenly it dawned to my mind and called my husband to ask him to request the children who were receiving Holy Communion for the first time along with our Jovina at the Holy Family Cathedral to pray for my baby. I knew God would never let children prayers to go in vain. Some of our friends requested intercessory prayers at The Church of our Lady of Arabia, Ahmadi. I firmly believe that a faithful will never walk out of church without receiving His bountiful blessings.
The Lord taught us: “ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt 7:7), do it with a sincere and humble heart and you will surely receive it. We did likewise.
The nurses at the hospital went about pricking Jemina mercilessly. All they said was they need the blood for testing, her veins were punctured. It did not matter that she was convulsing while they took her blood. My husband and I could not stand it any further and tried to stop the nurse from hurting our baby. We made sure that her doctor came and attended to her while they were taking blood.
Then everything started happening at once.
A ray of hope came through a phone call from our friend saying ‘an infant who is on the death bed is healed’ and that it was announced during the healing service at Ahmadi church. We hardly put the receiver down, when the doctor gave us the good news that our Jemina had got a bed in the ICU at Al Sabah hospital. He said ‘Allah is great’ because when he was checking a few minutes earlier, they had discouraged him saying no ICU beds were available. I marveled at God’s work and his presence with us at all times.
Jemina was incubated and rushed to children ICU at Al Sabah hospital as soon as possible. An Indian doctor along with a lady Kuwaiti doctor called us for a small meeting where they explained about Jemina’s sickness. What is vivid, was them saying ‘your child’s survival chances are very remote, and if she survives, she would have side effects like, a hearing impairment or sight loss or an abnormality’. One of the doctors also told us that she can go into a coma, due to continuous convulsions. I just told them determinedly, that she will come through and she will be a healthy baby, and they hoped my faith came true.
After admitting Jemina in the ICU, I came home and sent prayer requests via e-mail to those who were on my mailing list.
Jemina looked a terrible sight in the ICU bed, with all types of tubes around her body. Since her veins were punctured badly, they had now started pricking her head to supply medications to her body. The only solace being she was stable.
Sunday early morning, 6th May, we received a call at 4:00 a.m. from the hospital saying that Jemina’s blood level had gone very low and it was difficult to continue her medication. We were asked to arrange for O+ (Jemina’s blood type) by 7:00 a.m. Praying continuously and contacting agencies to find whether they had this blood type in stock, we received a call saying that a mother could give blood to her infant since Jemina was only 96 days old. We rushed immediately to the hospital, they took my blood and the blood transfusion process started at 8 am. I waited on my knees, outside the hospital hoping that my child would respond.
At around 16:00, when I called to check, the Nurse attending Jemina said, the blood transfusion had a reaction and Jemina’s fever was rising again, and that she was not responding. We went to Jemina’s ICU bed as fast as we could (it takes about 20-25 minutes from Salmiya to Al-Sabah Pediatric hospital). My husband I, both laid our right hands upon Jemina, whose body temperature was now at 39?C and prayed over her. When we opened our eyes, the body temperature had gone down to 35?C. It was a miracle!!!! Whoever said God does not hear our prayers? This was indeed a miracle and we saw it happening with our own eyes. A special power was leading us out of our crisis. After about 15 minutes the blood transfusion was started again and this time it was successful. Praise the Lord. Alleluia.
Jemina’s condition remained stable till Thursday, 10th May, though she was heavily sedated the solace was that she was responding to the medicines. Doctors wanted to check if they could give her medicines without the life support. It was in the afternoon that day, we received a call from the Al-Sabah Pediatric ICU, asking us to come and see our child. That she was out of danger and they had removed the life support. It was after 11 days, Jemina had opened her eyes for the first time, imagine the excitement in us. We kept praising our Lord like small children; we could not believe that our baby was on her way to recovery. Our joy was incredible. When we reached the hospital, she was fast asleep. They told us that she had taken little milk. We waited patiently for her to wake. Around 18:00 she woke up but to our dismay we could see our child was not normal. She was throwing herself up. She was restless. She gave us a smile but she was curving herself and behaving abnormally. There was a slight secretion flowing from her mouth. We asked Dr Mathew, who was on duty as to why our baby was behaving in this manner?’ he said, she could continue to be like this for another 1 ? year and that one could not say much about how this child will grow? He said it is entirely in God’s hands to make her normal.
Joe rushed out of the room, and wept bitterly like a small child. He kept asking God, ‘why did you keep my child alive Lord, if she is to live in this way? How can I bear to see her growing in this condition? But my faith did not falter, I just knew my Jemina would be alright. My instincts told me ‘she will be a healthy child’. I knew my child was in His care and that I had nothing to fear. I repeatedly tried to convince Joe that ‘Jemina will be fine, it is a temporary phase and when you come and see her tomorrow morning and she will be a normal child’. My words turned prophetic.
From the hospital we went directly to the Cathedral. We knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and wept to Him saying ‘Lord give us our healthy and a complete baby to take home’.
Next day we attended the 8 am service at the Cathedral. We prayed fervently to the Lord that we get to see a normal child. After the service, we went to Al-Sabah Pediatric hospital ICU. Our happiness knew no bounds to see that Jemina was normal. God had once again worked his wonders. The attendant nurse and the Doctor who had told us she will be abnormal were smiling, perplexed themselves, saying ?it is a miracle?. They explained that the whole night she had been throwing up, but once she went to sleep and woke up in the morning we were surprised as to how normal she was. She was even playing with her toys, which we had given to the nurse for Jemina. She was sponge bathed and our angel’s face was glowing.
Though it was Friday, they prepared her papers to shift her to Mubarak hospital. We thanked all the doctors and nurses of Al-Sabah Pediatric ICU and took Jemina to Mubarak hospital by ambulance.
She was again kept in isolation, at Mubarak hospital, to avoid any further infection. The doctor maintained that she needed to be under observation for another 15 days. I had already started monitoring her doses since she was in the ICU. Her doctor, Dr Jassim was quite co-operative and educated me further about Bacterial Meningitis.
It was on Monday, 21st May around 5.00 pm, when we saw another of God wonders taking place. My first cousin had come to see Jemina at the hospital and we were sitting and talking while Jemina was fast asleep. The stand where they used to hang the IV fluid was little away from Jemina’s bed and a full-unopened bottle hung on the stand. The nurse was supposed to start the fluid after a while. All of a sudden, we heard some noise and were stunned by the way the stand moved and then later the IV fluid started flowing on its own. Hearing the noise, the nurse came running to Jemina’s room and was shocked!! Though I was shaken badly, I recovered instantly and knew that my child was healed completely, that God had been with her all the time. But Jemina was not disturbed and was fast asleep with a cheerful smile on her face.
Next Day, Dr Jassim came to see Jemina. He saw her giggling, playing and making some noise, saying mmmmaaammma. He played with her for a while, but was actually trying to find out whether she could hear and see. He still had his doubts on her hearing and gave us a referral letter to check her hearing and sight. He said I am discharging her today. He kept his hand on my head and said ‘Lady, I wish every one comes to us, with the same faith as you have in Allah, God Bless You’. That day was very special to me and to my husband. It was 22 May, the day Joe and I, had vowed to be with one another in good and bad times. It was our 10th Wedding Anniversary and our baby was coming home.
Though Dr Jassim told us we must continue with the anti-convulsion medicine Phenobarb for at least 5 years, it was discontinued within 6 months as per doctors advise. We carried out her hearing and sight tests and got a confirmation that everything was normal with Jemina. We took Jemina to meet the doctors who had treated her at Al-Sabah Pediatric hospital – ICU to thank them. They could not believe their eyes that Jemina was all well. The lady doctor held our baby in her arms and said ‘We only did our job but your faith healed your child and now do pray for me that I may send everyone with a smile on their face’. She captured Jemina in her camera and said it was the first time in the history of Kuwait that a Bacterial Meningitis patient had been cured completely. This was also published later in their bulletin.
I had seen my child suffering from day one till she came home fully recovered. My husband Joseph once tried to count the pricks on her legs. Each leg had 17 pricks and we stopped counting the pricks on her tiny hands for we could not bear to continue. The veins on her hands had clotted (there were lumps inside) but we continued praying fervently and regular physiotherapy cleared all her clots.
Through Jemina’s sickness, my family and I learnt to forgive people whole heartedly. No matter what others said or did, with the help of prayers we have learned to forget and forgive. We saw death at very close quarters through Jemina. We know we have been blessed abundantly through Jemina. We have learnt how to be humble and more spiritual in our life. We have also learnt how to communicate with the Lord open heartedly.
This 23rd January, 2006, Jemina completed 5 beautiful years. We remember and thank every person who stood by us during our trauma, we pray for them daily during our family prayers. Her Godparents were with us every moment. The moral and spiritual support given to us by en number of people around the world moves us and touches us. A lady from Evangelical church came and taught us how to pray and knock on the doors of heaven. Prayer Warriors from Evangelical church visited Jemina frequently and prayed over her continuously even after she had recovered. We thank the Apostolic Carmelite nuns Kuwait and Rosario Church Mangalore, Nuns of Eucharistic Sacrament, Milagres and Cloister nuns from Mangalore who prayed constantly. We also thank the Management of my company, neighbors, and friends who stood by us and did not let us lose our faith.
I am not very good at quoting the scriptures but we know our strong faith in the Lord will heal any sickness. We praise Him every moment for turning His merciful gaze upon us. Jemina’s sickness had a purpose in our life. That was complete transformation.
Jesus said to his disciples ‘Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. ? (Mat 10:1-8’). We received Miracles, Faith and Blessings, and we in turn want to send out these Blessings to one and all who read this.
Author: Clara Fernandes- Kuwait