In this week’s installment of Faith-Filled Moms, I welcome my Sorority Sister, Kimberly Love, as she shares the story of her daughter’s life-changing diagnosis. It is our prayer that her story would encourage those experiencing similar challenges due to an unexpected diagnosis, remembering that God has a plan for each of our lives.
Where do I start?
My daughter Kymani was a sophomore at North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical University, majoring in Marketing. She hit the ground running, participating in sales competitions around the country, studying abroad, and even earning a spot in NC A&T’s coveted Honors College.
I was so happy to have her home for the semester break. It was a week before Christmas, and Kymani had just returned from studying in Panama. After our lengthy separation, I looked forward to spending time with her over the next few weeks and celebrating the holidays. We were snuggling while she shared pictures and stories from her trip. All of the sudden, she made a sound that I had never heard before; it was almost a screaming sound that pierced my ears. My daughter’s eyes rolled back in her head and her back locked in a position that looked like it was broken. She started convulsing and shaking as I helplessly tried to calm her. I anxiously yelled for my husband then immediately began to plead with God to help her. After the seizure was over, she fell into a deep sleep. This was the first time anything like this ever happened to her. Stunned, I continued praying, questioning God about what just happened and what I needed to do? I pleaded with God to protect my child. In response, God led me to seek medical attention.
I roused Kymani up and convinced her to go to the hospital. She had no recollection of what had just occurred, however, we soon learned that her back was severely sprained. She was prescribed a seizure medication; unfortunately, the soonest a neurologist could examine her was four months away. That week, she continued to have mini seizures, and then on New Year’s Eve, she had such a severe seizure that we rushed her back to the emergency room.
She was still having mini seizures as we pulled up to the hospital. My husband dropped us off and parked the car. The ER was full of patients waiting to be treated, but I tried to convince the front desk that my daughter needed to be seen immediately. It was a trauma hospital, so people were arriving in ambulances that were being prioritized over patients in the waiting room. As my husband and I pleaded with the attendant, my daughter started seizing again. This was the first time my husband had seen his baby girl seize, and seeing her in distress, he demanded someone see Kymani immediately. Within minutes, she was wheeled back to a room.
After Kymani was stabilized, she was moved to the hall on a gurney. They squeezed her in between two elderly patients, a man, and a woman, both waiting for treatment, and rushed off to other patients. Still in excruciating pain from her sprained back, and lockjaw from that latest seizure, my daughter would continuously scream from the pain, causing my mind to go wild with unspeakable thoughts. What if I lost her? Lord where ARE you? While we were in the hospital, my husband also experienced a medical emergency, most likely due to the stress of the situation. It felt like my world had stopped spinning.
Amid my hopelessness, God was right there and sent me unexpected help in my time of trouble. A church member arrived in the ER to check on a family member and sat with Kymani when I had to rush and check on my husband. As I was having a meltdown in the hall, a complete stranger sensed my desperation and, on the spot, prayed for Kymani, the doctors treating her, and for my strength to get up and handle the crisis I currently found my family in. Her intercession revealed that God was in my midst even when I couldn’t even call out to Him anymore. Revitalized by this encounter, I returned to my daughter with a calm spirit, determined to fight and advocate for the health of my child.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
After a few days in the hospital, Kymani was officially diagnosed with Epilepsy. The doctors could not determine the cause but mentioned an uptick in new diagnoses with young adult college women. I soon learned that epilepsy could develop in any person at any age. Stress was a common major factor and Kymani was advised to get a stress-relieving hobby.
Devastated with this diagnosis as she was just starting her life, Kymani struggled with this new part of her identity. Fortunately, she had a few weeks before she was scheduled to return to school, so I was able to observe her, care for her, and ensure she adjusted well to her new medication.
The next few weeks tested our faith. As we started tracing back the past few years, we realized that the frequent visits to the ER because something ‘just wasn’t right’ or the time she had wrecked her car but really couldn’t explain what happened, were probably the result of seizures. I believe Kymani had been sick for years and I didn’t even know it, which caused me to beat myself up for failing my daughter.
Furthermore, Kymani started questioning God. She struggled to understand how as a completely healthy, active, young adult with a vibrant future ahead, that she could suddenly have this diagnosis. She struggled with the detour in her life, as the meds weren’t working as quickly as we expected, and she was in a brace from her sprained back. Restricted from driving, her soul was drained and her spirit crushed. I continued to pray over her and did my best to encourage her, but nothing seemed to pull her through.
I helplessly watched as Kymani journeyed through the stages of grief as she dealt with the loss that came from this diagnosis. We observed the denial, followed by anger and bouts of depression. She also bargained with God to heal her.
Throughout this ordeal, I prayed individually, with my family, and engaged friends and our church family to bombard God’s throne on behalf of my daughter. Two weeks after receiving the diagnosis, Kymani moved back to her apartment at school. I spent the first week with her to ensure a smooth transition, given her new challenges. I met with the disability department at the college and was assured they were committed to supporting her in completing her studies and receiving her degree. A plan was made, accommodations were set, including a watch that could detect seizures and send me notifications.
When it was time to leave her and return home, I was a nervous wreck. She was still my baby! I implored God to protect her from all harm and danger and cover her through any sickness that came her way. When I returned to Greensboro a few months later for a doctor’s appointment, I found a completely different person! Kymani’s apartment was full of cakes and meal preps; she took her doctor’s advice and found her passion – cooking and baking. Kymani eventually started a catering company called Quick Licks Kitchen, LLC, while continuing her studies to finish her degree.
I don’t know that she has accepted her diagnosis, but she has come to terms with it. Kymani has not had a seizure in over a year. Recently, she let me know that she had reconciled with God and was no longer angry about her illness. She created a beautiful video to express her thoughts called My Illness is Invisible and shared it with the world on social media. She is a spokesperson for the Epilepsy Society and has found a purpose from her pain – to bring awareness to Epilepsy. She plans to create programs for college students, especially focusing on how peers can walk through this illness with their friends.
God promises in Romans 8:28–29 to use all your experiences (good and bad) to help you become more like His Son.
I could not be prouder of my daughter. God continues to answer my prayers in His own way, and according to His own plan, and I have placed my daughter’s life and future completely in His hands. I continue to love her, support her, and pray for her, as she carves out her place in this world.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
For more information on Epilepsy, please visit http://www.epilepsyfoundation.com