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Amanuel…”God with us”


This is Amanuel…he came in last Friday night in the midst of a 5 hour seizure which started at dinner after having a fever for 12 hours.  He had experienced progressive right-sided weakness over the past 6 months which had left him barely able to walk.  His father had taken him to a few different doctors who treated him with oral amoxicillin for 1 week.  It didn’t help.  By the time I arrived in the ER he was about to be given a 4th and final dose of diazepam (our only fast acting anti-seizure medication).  It was pretty hard to watch.  Thankfully after that dose his seizure finally stopped.  Examining him, his left pupil was twice the size of his right and barely reactive to light, his body totally limp and his father in tears.  We obtained a Head CT with the thinking that given the slow onset of progressive weakness, a 5 hour seizure and essentially a blown pupil, this must be a brain tumor and I wanted to be able to tell the father that we definitively knew there was nothing that could be done.   Additionally, after a 5 hour seizure he clearly had a bad aspiration pneumonia with increased work of breathing and small oxygen requirement.  Reviewing the head CT with one of our great general practitioners Mehret, this is what we saw…badness.

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I am definitely not a radiologist but clearly there was lots of edema (it was also found in several other images in other places) and what looked like a tumor to me.  We went and spoke with the father–explaining that after the CT showed he had a brain tumor and given his pupillary findings, he likely had severe brain damage and would not recover well or survive very long either b/c of the tumor, the acute brain injury, the aspiration pneumonia, or the combination of all three.  We prayed, cried some and then gave antibiotics for the pneumonia, anti-seizure meds and lots of steroids (to decrease the brain swelling) and then sent him home to die.

Sunday comes around and our radiologist (a great man of God named Karl from Norway) looked at the CT over the weekend and thought perhaps we should repeat it with contrast b/c although it looks like a brain tumor it could also be a rare form of tuberculosis.  (I need to mention at this point on Friday night both the CT tech and Mehret had said we should follow up the non-contrast head CT with a contrast one just to be complete but in my ignorant confidence I had thought it would just be doing extra things that really wouldn’t change the situation or long term outcome…so I talked them out of it.)

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So long story short…the CT was repeated Sunday morning and Amanuel most likely has a tuberculoma–this view was strengthened by the fact we also got a chest CT which shows cavities consistent with TB which you couldn’t see on chest x-ray b/c of his pneumonia, we later did a PCR test (very specific for TB) which was also positive, confirming he has TB. Even more of a miracle is he looks pretty normal–in fact on Monday we saw him to go over everything and do the PCR test and his dad felt like he was almost back to how he was before his 5 HOUR seizure!!!

Now Amanuel is on anti-TB meds, anti-seizure meds, 6-8 weeks of steroids and 10 days of antibiotics for his pneumonia and doing pretty well.

It is funny because when I was trying to emotionally process through what God had done in this little life it occurred to me…Amanuel means “God with us”.  What a picture of the reality that I so often walk around in and fail to see.  I assumed I knew what was going on with this little guy–I even talked other people out of the test which could have yielded more definitive info and yet “God was with us”.  God didn’t need me to be smart or experienced or even right…he just wanted Amanuel, his father and family, our general practitioner Mehret, and I to see he doesn’t need any of us.  Instead, he lets us be a small part of what He is doing (even when we unknowingly try to mess it up).

He is God and we aren’t, yet God, the Creator of the universe still lets us have a small part in the miracles he wants to perform both physically (in saving little Amanuel and protecting or resurrecting his little brain) and spiritually in opening my/our eyes to the reality that he is purposefully choosing broken people like me to reveal His Glory through.

I feel humbled to be His and to have the privilege to be a part of the work here in Soddo.  I am so grateful to the Lord that He chose to save Amanuel despite my mistakes and to show His glory through this broken vessel.  Please join me in praying for Amanuel and his recovery.  Please join me also in Praising our Father in Heaven…we serve an AMAZING GOD.

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