"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:" – 1 Thes 3:1
We are so grateful for the thousands of prayers that have gone up on behalf of our family and our daughter Beth during the past few days. We have received encouraging notes and prayers through e-mail, Facebook, listservers, and even personal visits at the hospital here in Bangkok. It would be impossible for us to adequately thank each individual for their efforts on our behalf, but our thanksgiving remains. We are are also thankful for the doctors, nurses, and technicians here who have assisted in Beth’s care and diagnosis. Our greatest thanksgiving and praise, is of course reserved for God Himself, who is the Great Physician, Jehovah Rapha.
We do not now know all that has contributed to the events of the past few weeks, nor can we know for certain the exact causes of each of Beth’s symptoms. We do know that our God is over all, and it was His purpose to allow Beth to be sick, and also to heal her by His grace. We are deeply saddened by her remaining diagnoses, yet thankful for the knowledge of the conditions and the wisdom to be able to live with them.
In the course of the past few days, much information has been disseminated regarding our family, Beth, and the health problems that she was experiencing. Along with the information, it has also come to our attention that mis-information was also spread by well meaning friends. In an effort to clarify the record and to honor God by an accurate accounting of His work, we are providing the following as a brief timeline and summary of our experience with Beth.
May 29, 2009 – Our family arrived in Cambodia and travelled to our home in Siem Reap.
June 2, 2009 – Rachel, Beth, Emily, and William each contracted a bacterial or viral stomach infection lasting three days. They each recovered from all of the symptoms of this infection.
June 5, 2009 – Beth began complaining of a pain in her abdomen just to the right of her belly button. The pain increased dramatically over the next two days.
June 7, 2009 – We visited Royal Angkor Hospital in Siem Reap for the first time. The Dr suspected appendicitis and ordered an abdmoninal CT scan which was inconclusive. Beth was admitted for overnight observation and IV fluids/antibiotics. She was released with a week’s supply of anti-biotics and other meds.
June 16, 2009 – Beth’s pain continued to increase inspite of continuing antibiotics. A return visit to Royal Angkor for bloodwork and urinalysis revealed evidence of infection prompting an additional course of antibiotics.
June 19, 2009 – A second CT scan was ordered again yeilding little helpful information. At this time a number of items led us to suggest the possibility of increased blood glucose levels.
June 23, 2009 – Fasting bloodwork revealed an elevated blood glucose level (138) and other indications causing concern about diabetes.
June 25, 2009 – We travelled to Phnom Penh for a consultation with a pediatrician at Royal Rattanak hospital. She confirmed that Beth’s pain was real, and that it warranted further investigation. She referred us to Bangkok Hospital and scheduled an appointment for June 27.
June 27, 2009 – Beth was admitted to Bangkok Hospital, where her HgA1C was checked to confirm diabetes. Additional blood work was ordered and a number of examinations were undertaken in an effort to deal with her abdominal pain.
June 29, 2009 – We transferred Beth to Bumrungrad International Hospital to continue her testing and diabetes education. On the evening of this day, she began to report pain and increasing numbness in her legs as well as "lavendar spots" in her field of vision. The painful spot in her belly was continuing to become worse.
June 30, 2009 – Blood tests revealed a probable diagnosis of Celiac Disease.
July 1, 2009 – Her pain continued to increase, and her legs became completely numb. She was unable to stand or walk, and could not hold herself in a sitting position in her bed. Also, the lavendar spots had changed to yellow, and had completely obstructed her vision from her left eye. A neurologist was consulted, and his immediate suspicion was a condition known as ADEM. It was at this point that we published a general request for prayer for our daughter. I cannot begin to express to you the degree of fear and concern that we experienced that evening as we realized that our daughter could not walk or see. We spent the entire evening in prayer as we awaited an MRI brain scan in the morning. Brother Dwayne Shafer, who is an experienced medical doctor, made the generous offer to come and be with us and to help evaluate the diagnosis and treatment and immediately boarded a plane to meet us.
July 2, 2009 – Began as Beth’s worst day to date. She awoke in agonizing pain and could not even hold herself up in the wheelchair as she was taken down for the MRI. Many have expressed that they were in prayer for Beth at the time of this procedure, and some have expressed that a certain peace came upon them in answer to prayers at that specific time. The MRI results came back negative, and failed to confirm any diagnosis. About two hours after the procedure, Beth was able to stand and walk for about 15 minutes before collapsing back to her previous state. This momentary ability caused an amazing amount of joy and gave her the first hopeful sign in some time. Later in the day, the spots in her vision began to clear, and an eye exam revealed no detectable damage to her optic nerve.
July 3, 2009 – Elder / Dr Shafer arrived at the hospital around mid-morning to find Beth walking around and waiting for him him the elevator lobby. Her neurological symptoms continued to subside throughout the day, and by Saturday morning, the only remaining symptom was the pain in her stomach.
July 4, 2009 – Beth was released from the hospital and allowed to return to the hotel with the rest of our family. We are scheduled for a follow-up appointment on July 6, and will then return home to Siem Reap.
This morning, we were blessed to attend a worship service with Calvary Baptist Church here in Bangkok where the message was on the lesson of the Syrophenician woman. "yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs." I was made to realize once again what a blessing it is to be recipients of even the least of His mercies. It was a great blessing for our family to be together once again in a worship service.
We wish to extend our special thanks to Elder Dwayne and Sister Kathy Shafer, Dr. Jefferson Harris, Rebecca Case (Rachel’s sister), Fred Bourg (Joseph’s uncle), and to my parents Carl and Connie Weyel, without whom we would not have been able to make it through the past few weeks. We are thankful also to numerous others whose kind encouraging words, offers of help, and continuing prayer have focused our minds and attention on the goodness of God in our lives.
As we look forward to the days, months, and years ahead, it is with a renewed commitment to God and His will in our lives. I (Joseph) am convicted of my sin and disobedience in failing to manage my diabetes and the wreckless manner in which I have endangered my life through selfish eating and failure to test and monitor my blood sugars. Seeing Beth now facing a lifetime of the same challenge and responsibility causes me to reflect seriously upon the poor example that I have been and the responsibility that I have to maintain a positive example for my children.
It may be some time before we understand all that God intends for us to learn from this experience, and it may be that we are not finished with the experience itself as we still do not understand the cause of Beth’s symptoms. However, we can begin tomorrow living in the light that He has given us today. The challenge of life in Cambodia is still ahead of us. There is still much work to be done, and many trials of our faith left to endure, but the Author of our faith remains strong in our defense, and continues to speed us onward.
Please continue in your prayers for us, and remember the needs that we have already mentioned in previous posts on this blog as well as future requests as they are brought to your attention.
In love and thanksgiving,
Joseph and Rachel Weyel