Last week I was looking at old pictures of the kids. The difference between the kid I met on that very first day and the kid I know now is HUGE. My goal for the next few months is to post a Throwback blog every Thursday to highlight the individual stories and progress of each child living at Precious Kids Center.
It seems most appropriate to start with Isaac because he was the first child that came to live at Precious Kids Center. We met Isaac through one of the occupational therapists at the District Hospital. We had a meeting with him, ironing out some of the details before we got Precious Kids Center up and running so he knew about our vision and goals. So off we went to meet Isaac. To be completely honest I was overwhelmed when I first held him in my arms. I had never seen a kid like him before. I didn’t know where to put my hands to properly support his head. I didn’t know if the noises he was making was laughter or if he was crying. One thing I knew is that God had brought me to be there with Isaac in that moment so I sat quietly and listened as his father, Peter, told their story.
When Isaac was five months old his parents noticed that his head was growing larger and faster than the rest of his body. He had become agitated and restless, not like the happy, playful baby that they were used to. So they took him to the doctor and he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. They were then referred to Kijabe Hospital where a shunt was put in place to drain the extra fluid from his brain. After that they struggled to care for him with minimal knowledge of what his diagnoses entailed. His mother brought him to the District Hospital whenever they had the extra money to afford therapy. One day, when Isaac was three years old his mother took him to the hospital for therapy and one of the doctors gave her 1,000 shillings ($10.00US) and asked her to bring back change. With a little extra cash she seized the opportunity and dropped Isaac off at their home and her family has never seen or heard from her again.
Peter was then left with not only Isaac, but two other children to care for completely on his own. He is a kind and dedicated father, but was left with a no choice but to go out and work to put food on the table and earn money to send his other children to school. This meant that Isaac was left alone all day with no one to care for him. He missed meals, therapy sessions and the chance to be able to be around other children. As a result of this Isaac was malnourished when we took him in. Additionally, because of a lack of therapy he had formed contractures on his arms and legs, making them very stiff. His hands were clenched in a fist, his elbows couldn’t straighten and his legs were so twisted that we had to look at his feet to figure out which leg was the left and which was the right.
After I heard Isaac’s story I couldn’t say no even though I wasn’t sure where to begin. So on March 6, 2012 (coincidentally Isaac’s sixth birthday) he moved into his new home at Precious Kids Center. The first month wasn’t easy. Caring for children seemed like a simple enough task, but Isaac has very specific needs that we weren’t used to. It seemed as if he was losing weight at the house, he wasn’t eating, therapy was leaving his arms and legs swollen and painful. It was overwhelming. We had every intention of improving his quality of life and things still seemed to be going downhill, but we stuck with him.
After a few tough weeks we were able to see that Isaac was improving. We figured out the tricks of how to get him to eat and he started gaining weight, with regular therapy sessions some of the stiffness started going away and he was able to open his hands and bend his arms and legs a little. I remember one day he was trying to kick off his sock. We all watched for over twenty minutes until it finally fell to the ground and me, the house mothers and the other kids cheered and Isaacs sweet laugh filled the room. He was the first of many kids to teach us the value of celebrating the small victories.
In December 2013 Isaac became sick. We took him to countless doctors around Kitale and nobody seemed to be able to pinpoint his illness. A few of the doctors in town told me to take him home, pray and hope for the best. They had given up on Isaac, but I wasn’t ready to do that. So we headed off to Eldoret, a larger city about an hour away, hoping to get some answers. After spending the whole day at the hospital they told us that he needed oxygen therapy, but the doctors were on strike and once again we were told to make him comfortable and hope for the best. That night we sat with Isaac until almost midnight. He was his normal joyful self, but still struggling to breathe, his hands and feet were swollen and he was continually losing weight even though he was eating. We took him to a local private hospital and they gave him some normal antibiotics that he’d been given many times before with no improvement and miraculously he began to improve.
We had called Peter to come and see him in the hospital. I was nervous to hear what he would say. Once again in my head I was thinking that we were trying so hard to help this boy and nothing was working. Peter looked at me and simply said, “Thank you for all you have done. I never thought Isaac would see his seventh birthday. If God wants to give us more time with him we will be thankful, but if God wants to take him away we will also be thankful for the time we had with him.” I was in awe. There we were sitting around the hospital bed, not knowing what the next few days would hold and Isaac’s father was thanking me. He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t sad, he just had total faith that God would do what was best in the life of his boy that he loves so much.
Now Isaac is doing much better. His spinal deformity causes him to hunch over and caused him to develop chronic bronchitis, but now we have learned what to look for and know which combination of medicines works best and start treatment early. We were able to get him a wheelchair fitted just for him and now he can go to class and enjoys being around the other students.
I am so grateful that God has placed Isaac into our care. He taught us so much about caring for children with disabilities in the three years that we have spent caring for him and he is a wonderful addition to our little family.