Image one day noticing some tingling fingers and toes, and then that you can't pick up firewood that you would normally gather, then a rapidly progressive weakness, then complete paralysis. Patrick is a bright articulate 11 year old who was a normal kid a week ago, and tonight is in the ICU on a ventilator because his breathing muscles are too weak to sustain his life. His symptoms and tests point to a diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare illness in which the body's own immune system attacks the nerve sheaths until the muscles have no impulse for movement. A once active boy over a matter of days has become a limp and helpless patient, without enough power to even breathe. But if we can keep him alive, the paralysis should recover, and he should slowly regain strength. Problem is, that might take weeks, or months. And staying alive on a ventilator, avoiding malfunctions and failure, escaping infection and sores and despair, in Kenya, is no small task.
Similar in some ways to my Dad's slowly progressive ALS, this is a disease that leaves the brain perfectly aware and intact as the body slips into a helpless passivity. So Patrick can talk to us, can ask for help, can listen, can cry. Saturday night as he panicked about his failing breath, I called Scott in to help me intubate him and put him on a ventilator. Today I told him with more conviction than I felt that he was going to recover, that this was temporary, that he would be out of the ICU within a month and playing football within a year. His tears of resignation and desperation as he looked at me pretty much made my sleep-deprived heart melt.
Would you pray for Patrick? Pray Is 40:31, which I asked Acacia to write out for him as God's promise. Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. . Pray that his heart would not give up as he faces uncertain weeks of complete dependence. Pray we would be able to keep him alive. His parents face a long course and a huge expense, and would be grateful for your prayers. Pray that Patrick would once again run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.