By DR KENNETH D KEMP
AT ANY given moment, life is like a revolving door. Where you emerge determines your choices. Decisions you make set your course of opportunities or challenges. But with every challenge comes the possibility of loss. And if there is a loss, is there a lesson that will give birth to new beginnings? Then with hard work, wisdom and luck, will blessings someday follow?
We continue with Part 2 of a story of revolving doors and a life that so desperately deserved a break, it used every floret of blessings prayed for years ago by a child who no longer dreams.
Last week, I shared the incredible story of Kelly and the breathtaking circumstances surrounding the birth of her first two children, Aaliyah and Andrew. Their childhood was ripe with illnesses but as they became older, their visits to the doctor became less frequent. In fact, by the time they reached eight and seven, respectively, it was Kelly who required the most medical attention.
In January 2014, Kelly began having seizures in her sleep. The first time it happened, in the middle of the night, her body convulsed so violently it caused her bed to slam against the floor alarmingly loud, like a drum being beaten with reckless abandon. The knocking startled her children.
Running to her aid, they screamed for their mother to awaken but she never did. Kelly’s eyes were glossed over and her hands gripped her sheets as she slammed her body up and down, her body shaking relentlessly and her legs kicking with forceful aggression.
In a panic, Aaliyah called her uncle and he called the ambulance before going to their house. When Kelly finally regained consciousness, she was in the emergency room, oblivious of the events that led to her hospital visit.
She remained there for three days undergoing several diagnostic tests before being discharged.
Over the next five months, Kelly had 12 more seizures, each while asleep and so severe they required a hospital admission. But by June, the seizures stopped as quickly as they had started and to this day, she’s never been able to determine what caused them.
That same year, just two months after her seizures stopped, Kelly was hit by a bus while crossing the street.
The bus driver behind was confused as to why traffic wasn’t flowing, not realising that the car in front of him stopped to let Kelly cross.
Annoyed and in a hurry, he drove around and sped forward. It was a single lane with no place to maneuver. So, by the time he saw Kelly it was too late. The bus crushed into her side and she was tossed into the air. As the bus driver pumped his brakes and swerved, his bus tipped to one side and landed back on all four wheels, the tires smoking and creating claw marks in the pavement.
Kelly’s body went flying into a side corner landing in a muddy ditch 12 feet from where the accident occurred.
Bystanders were sure she was dead but apart from a few scrapes, she was fine. Emergency medical technicians took her to the hospital where she remained for two days. But with no head, neck or back injuries sustained during the accident and miraculously not a single broken bone, Kelly was discharged without any apparent need for follow-up care.
The accident was just another traumatic event in her young life that reminded her about the sanctity and fragility of life. Every day, she prayed to God and the angels watching over her.
Then in 2016, Kelly was given another blessing. She and her boyfriend had their third child, a girl. It was a normal pregnancy but Kelly had to have an emergency C-section when her daughter started moving into her chest cavity. Fortunately, her third child has not been afflicted by any of the health complications her first two children endured.
Three years later, when Kelly became pregnant for the fourth and final time, she hoped for the same smooth sailing she enjoyed in her last pregnancy. That hope was short-lived when at five months pregnant, she lost her balance and toppled down a long flight of stairs.
Everything happened quickly. As she began to fall, Kelly grabbed onto the stair railing but her hands slipped off. She felt her heart skip a beat as she collapsed forward landing on her hip and back.
Laying there, she grabbed her stomach as tears streamed down her cheek. Bystanders called for an ambulance. Once again, Kelly was rushed to the emergency room where she had an ultrasound of her stomach and X-rays of her hip, back and legs.
The baby survived the fall and Kelly only sustained some scrapes and minor soft tissue damage. Her daughter (who I’ll refer to as Anna), was born four months after Kelly’s fall, weighing a healthy seven pounds 13 ounces.
Initially things seemed fine but by the time Anna was six weeks, she began to experience high fevers, up to 102.1. Anna was admitted into the hospital with a viral infection and discharged after one week of intravenous antibiotics.
Kelly soon noticed that sometimes her daughter would grip her fingers and stiffen her body causing a small, palpable knot to form on her head but it only lasted a few seconds. When Anna started her first set of vaccinations, Kelly mentioned it to her pediatrician but he said that it was normal.
One week later, Anna had a similar episode so Kelly took her back to the clinic to see a different pediatrician. That doctor immediately arranged for Anna to be admitted to the hospital because the episodes she described were, in fact, seizures.
Kelly was devastated. She never fathomed that could be a causative factor because her own personal experience with seizures was so different. The realisation caused her heart to sink and Kelly felt like she couldn’t breathe. How could this be happening she thought and the sad news kept coming.
After two weeks in hospital, it was discovered that Anna, at only three months old, had high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy and a disease in both eyes that rendered her legally blind.
Anna was discharged from the hospital. Kelly wanted to take her to a specialist in the US but her daughter didn’t have a passport or clearance from her doctor to travel. A little over a week later, Anna had another high fever. Her pediatrician recommended a liquid pain reliever and fever reducer and he stayed on the phone with Kelly until Anna’s fever broke.
It was after midnight and they arranged to meet at the hospital at the break of dawn. That night, as Kelly held her daughter in her arms, she felt incredibly relieved that her baby’s fever had finally broken. Anna was smiling. Kelly kissed her daughter multiple times as she giggled excitedly before putting her to bed.
A few hours later, with the sun now up, Kelly went to get Anna ready to go to the hospital but her face and body were pale purple. Kelly put her hand on her baby’s stomach and called out her name but the body was as cold as ice. Kelly fell to the ground with a scream so drenched in pain that it scraped her vocal cords. She cried uncontrollably, rocking back and forth, praying for a miracle that couldn’t possibly happen.
Now 14, Aaliyah, her first daughter who against all odds had beaten death multiple times, came running to her mother’s rescue for the second time in her short life.
Aaliyah called her aunt who rushed to the house, saw what happened and called the ambulance. EMTs evaluated the situation and assessed that with blood on her pillow and foam still in her mouth, Anna had a seizure and died in her sleep ten days after being released from the hospital.
Kelly’s life has been a revolving door of tragedy and triumph, of brushes with death and miraculous survival, but nothing has hit her as hard as Anna’s death. She knows it’s a wound that’ll never heal but she lives with the pain.
At her core, Kelly’s a fighter and she’s taught her children to fight for what they believe in. Her take-home message is to stay strong and always push forward no matter the circumstances. Walk with faith, she says, and never by sight.
As the vital breath of the universe, to some people including Kelly, the wind possesses spiritual energy transporting florets of blessings to loved ones near and far.
Today, the woman who once felt that the wind only blew west towards the privileged few, knows that the wind was at her back the entire time and through every trial, lifting her to new heights and slowly guiding her towards the contentment she now feels on a life journey with undoubtedly many more opportunities and challenges ahead.
This is the KDK Report.
• Nicknamed ‘The Prince of Podiatry’, Dr Kenneth D Kemp is the founder and medical director of Bahamas Foot and Ankle located in Caves Village, Western New Providence. He served as the deputy chairman for the Health Council for five years and he currently sits on the board of directors for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation in his role as co-vice-chairman.
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