Paisley was born in January of 2011, as a healthy and strong baby girl, and the fourth child of our family. She developed cold-like symptoms when she was only 12 days old.
But she did not have a cold. She had an aggressive case of bacterial meningitis. Until that day in early February, meningitis was simply a word to me, one of those diseases that I had heard about but that only afflicts other people in other places. Within a short hour\’s span, it changed for me into one of the most haunting words that I have known.
Meningitis can act so quickly, since the infections are often very advanced before the condition is identified. It can rapidly lead to hearing loss, blindness, severe mental impairment, amputations, and death. Milk-white drops of fluid from her spinal tap revealed that the infection was already advanced by the time we arrived at the emergency room. The doctors told us that her infection was bacterial, far more serious than the milder viral meningitis.
Today Paisley is a year old. Her twelve days are now twelve months. By God’s grace, she is as perfect and whole as our other children have been. She is so well, so healthy, and so strong, that it is difficult to grasp the outcome that could have been – how close she came to a very different future. Friends of ours have been less fortunate.
It was our pediatrician’s nurse that first advised us to immediately go to the hospital with Paisley, and pressed us not to delay based upon what we thought of as unremarkable symptoms. The doctors at the hospital took the strongest actions possible, assuming the worst case scenario and treating for meningitis before the tests had been processed. Their proactive playbook and prioritization of her case made a difference, in a struggle where lost time can mean irreversible repercussions.
Within minutes of our arrival at the hospital, friends appeared to sit with us and to pray with us. Word spread rapidly through our church, our friends, and our family. Within hours there were scores praying. Within two days, there were hundreds: spread across the US, South America, Asia, and Europe.
With the coming of her first birthday, I cannot escape reflecting upon what has happened and how thankful we continue to be. I look at what so many people did to save one little life. These are things that do not wash off; they are indelible to a parent’s heart. When Paisley smiles, when she bounces to music, when her eyes glow in the soft light of our Christmas tree, I remember.