A FRAGILE BOY
We believe there is a purpose for everything, and in my case, I believe there is a purpose that God brought my youngest son into this world.
Jeffrey is a four-and-a-half-year-old twin. When he was born, he was less than five pounds, which was somewhat normal for a twin. His sister, Renee, was almost one pound heavier and seven minutes older than him.
His birth was actually a miracle in itself, and I witnessed that for myself at the hospital. Because of the risks of twin delivery, my wife had to be brought into the operating room instead of the delivery room, just in case they had to perform the Caesarean procedure.
Thank God, there was no need for the operation, and both twins were natural births. But Jeffrey was born with his feet instead of his head first. No matter how hard they tried to reverse him, it wouldn’t work. Praise God that the babies were born healthy.
When Jeffrey was one year old, he had a breathing problem. The doctor sent him to the hospital, but they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. When he began to feel fine, they sent him home.
Fast forward three-and-a-half years later. This winter, Southern California was hard hit with the influenza virus. Jeffrey and his siblings each had to receive flu shots. Perhaps a new strain of the virus rendered the vaccine ineffective, explaining why Jeffrey caught a bad case of the flu despite the preventative measures we took.
So, we took him to the doctor and gave him some medicine. Instead of getting better a week later, his condition worsened. This was back in January 2004.
When my wife took him to see the doctor a second time, he was breathing really hard and gasping for air. The doctor, without talking to my wife, ordered the nurse to take Jeffrey into the emergency room.
He was immediately admitted into the ER for medical attention and given intravenous and breathing treatments, and he was closely watched for twenty-four hours. They gave him steroids to strengthen his immune system, but he couldn’t eat or drink, so it was a very difficult time for him.
THE PAINFUL PROCEDURES
The doctors didn’t actually know what was going on, so they had to do tests on Jeffrey. They started with X-rays, and when that didn’t give them enough information, they ordered a CT scan and then an MRI.
Jeffrey didn’t know what was going on and couldn’t stay still. His constant fidgeting forced the doctors to perform a laryngoscopy, where a surgical apparatus and camera was inserted through his nose and down his throat, with only local anesthesia. It was a very painful process.
The doctors didn’t discover anything wrong with his upper respiratory system. In order to test beyond the voice box, they had to give him general anesthesia and do a bronchoscopy, a procedure where a camera tracks activity from the throat all the way down to the lungs.
The risk of this procedure was the possibility that Jeffrey might lose his voice indefinitely, and this was when I started to ask brothers and sisters to pray for him. The other risk was that, if he couldn’t breathe during the procedure, then they would have to cut open his throat.
Of course, with the general anesthesia, he might not wake up after being sedated. So I contacted some ministers, the church council, and the church members to pray for him. I called my mom in Indonesia to ask the members there to pray for him, too.
We prayed and prayed, even up to the time of the procedure and all the way to the end. The procedure took about an hour, and we prayed the whole time.
When he got out of the operating room, he was still sleeping. That’s when I saw the purple markings on his neck. They were X-marks. I asked the doctors why those marks were there, and they said the markings were points of incision if he stopped breathing during the operation.
Thank God that Jeffrey was able to breathe normally during the course of the procedure and that they didn’t have to take such a drastic action.
FINDING OUT WHAT’S WRONG
The doctor discovered a condition, which is illustrated in the diagram below.
The first diagram on the left shows the normal respiratory anatomy of a human being. The trachea, also known as the windpipe, runs from the nasal cavity down to the lungs. It connects to the bronchial tubes, which bring oxygen into the lung cavity.
On the right diagram, we see Jeffrey’s respiratory anatomy. The first problem is the progressive and rapid narrowing of the windpipe towards the bronchial tubes.
Under normal circumstances, he breathes like a normal little boy. But when the windpipe is too narrow, he doesn’t get enough air. And the size of the narrowest ring in the windpipe is only about three millimeters. According to one doctor, that is half the size of a newborn baby’s tracheal ring. This explains some of the breathing troubles he experienced in the past. When the doctor diagnosed this, he was surprised that Jeffrey was still alive. He said, "It must be miracle."
When we heard that, we praised and thanked God for all His guidance all this while. Under normal medical conditions, even the doctor felt Jeffrey shouldn’t have lived as long as he did, and this doctor had over ten years of experience dealing with this condition. He had seen thousands of similar cases, and Jeffrey was the third surviving patient.
PRAYERS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Every time Jeffrey had to be put under general anesthesia, we were afraid that he wouldn’t wake up. So we prayed that, without anesthesia, he could stay still for the doctors to perform the necessary diagnostic procedures.
After all the prayers offered by the brothers, sisters, and ministers of the church, we could see that Jeffrey started to have more confidence, and he became calmer.
During the previous three CT scans, Jeffrey was moving too much, so the doctors had to give him general anesthesia. But they didn’t have to put Jeffrey to sleep in one of the last procedures, which was needed to confirm their findings.
Because the procedure went smoothly, we went home early. Thank God we didn’t have to go through another bout of general anesthesia.
After completing the final diagnostic procedure, the doctors wanted to perform a major operation on Jeffrey. They believed they could enlarge the narrow part of the windpipe, but they would have to borrow tissues from other parts of the body, and the chance of survival was only sixty percent. This was like gambling to me. I did not feel comfortable that their best would only be sixty percent.
So my wife and I started to rely more on God.
RELYING COMPLETELY ON GOD
Psalm 71:6 reminds us who our Maker is:
By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb.
My praise shall be continually of You.
This definitely applies to Jeffrey. Through the encouragement of ministers and members, we stood by the decision not to go through with the operation. And whenever we needed comfort from the Lord, we also remembered these words:
Be my strong habitation,
To which I may resort continually;
You have given the commandment to save me,
For You are my rock and my fortress. (Ps 71:3)
Right now, Jeffrey is doing very well. He’s always been normal to us, and even though he has this condition, we never realized that it was this serious. Through God’s protection, he has lived all these years. We continue praying, and we ask everyone to continue praying for us.
We received the last CT scan/MRI results recently, but we had to go to a different doctor because Jeffrey’s doctor belongs to another medical group/hospital.
When we took Jeffrey to this new doctor and his condition was examined, he looked at Jeffrey’s last CT scan results and couldn’t understand why the windpipe had enlarged. It was originally at three millimeters, but the last scan showed that it had grown.
He called the first doctor, who immediately asked, "How is Jeffrey doing?" He almost couldn’t believe that Jeffrey wasn’t having any problems, so the second doctor said, "He looks normal to me."
Although his trachea is narrowing, he doesn’t think it will be as bad. If you were to see Jeffrey today, you wouldn’t know that he went through such a grand ordeal. We truly praise and thank God for His protection.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
"O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!"
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me. (Ps 116:4-6)
This is very applicable to my wife and me. We were in despair when we were going through this ordeal. We were in the hospital for about eight days, and the two of us took turns to be with Jeffrey at all times.
There were times when we would lose hope because the doctors were clueless about the problem, which caused them to perform one test after another.
It was a difficult time for both of us, but we called on the Lord to help and save us. We knelt down and prayed and asked for forgiveness—that perhaps we had transgressed without our knowing, and we prayed that His will would be done.
We didn’t know whether Jeffrey was going to be discharged from the hospital, if he had to stay, or if his illness would go away completely. At that time, we relied on God and gave Jeffrey to Him. We can only ask, because it is God that really decides for us. So we ask for God’s best for Jeffrey.
I believe there is a reason for everything, and God has answered our prayers and continues to be our protection. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude and heartfelt thanks to all the caring brothers and sisters who interceded for Jeffrey and our family. We are indebted to you always.
May all the glory be unto the Lord’s name.