Kawasaki Syndrome

I married Konnie back in 1968 and we started a wonderful journey together. God had called me to the ministry two years earlier and the preparations to follow that path were well underway. School was being finished and God had allowed us to have a son as our first born child. As we approached graduation from Tennessee Temple University, life was very good.
Within the next eight years we added two more sons and were blessed with the opportunity to develop a kindergarten through twelfth grade Christian school at our home church in Taylor, Michigan.
Then it happened. Our fourth and last child was a girl. We were elated and thankful to God for sending this little gal to a mother who had hoped for a long time for a daughter. Libi was the little princess in our family and Konnie greatly enjoyed dressing her little treasure in the cutest clothes she could find. When she wasn’t satisfied with her options for clothing, she just made them herself.
Things in our lives were going along in a wonderful way. Our family was growing and the boys were very active and always ready for new challenges. Little Libi always got her share of bumps and bruises while trying to keep up with her older brothers. The school was growing and developing into a wonderful option for families to place their children. Life was good – until it wasn’t.

Kawasaki Disease came to call at the Cook household. Although we had never heard of it, this was a serious infection that had the side effect of damaging the cardio vascular system. Our precious daughter was almost five years old when this disease invaded the little body of this joyful child. Along with this illness another uninvited invader came charging into our lives: Fear! Many parents reading this story have experienced this situation with one or more of their children.  When informed, all four of our parents knew exactly what we were going through, because they had experienced similar fear-filled events with a child.

My situation involved a bout with Bacterial Meningitis. An insightful doctor saved me from mental and physical side effects and even possible death. Fear was a part of that extreme medical event. While in the life of Konnie, at the age of four, she fell out of a moving car and onto the roadway. Heart pounding fear was a part of that situation, also. In both cases their children returned to full health, but the encounter with fear was etched forever in their memories.
We had taken Libi to the doctor twice, but she still had a lingering fever. One day, Konnie had gone out somewhere and I was watching our daughter at home. That was when I observed something that quickly got my full attention. It appeared to me that she was having a hard time walking. It was as if her legs and feet were hurting her. I called Konnie who, rushed home immediately, and we were off to the emergency room.

When the attending physician saw her, he tried to contact her doctor, but got no answer. He said that he had an idea about what the problem was from something he had recently read. She was admitted and would spend the next four days in isolation.

It was as the doctor suspected, - Kowasaki Syndrome. It is a disease that involves swollen hands and feet, swollen glands, and fever. Konnie stayed by her bedside at the hospital and I stayed home to care for our three young boys. Involved in her treatment were blood tests every few hours. When one arm got punctured several times they would then switch to the other arm. This little child got to where she could hear the cart rolling down the hallway on the way to the room, causing her much distress.

During her ten day hospitalization, her obvious symptoms eased a bit, but the fear of long term concerns remained. Libi’s hands and feet literally peeled like a snake. Side effects of possible blood clots, heart damage, and aortic weakness were still in play as she recovered at home, and then she came down with scarlet fever. She remained under the care of a Pediatric Cardiologist until she was eighteen years old. To this day, the possible side effects have never been found in her cardiac system.
While still in recovery after her long hospitalization, Konnie and Libi were watching Jerry Falwell and the “Old Time Gospel Hour”. At the invitation portion Libi turned to her mother and said, “I don’t want to go to hell.” Mom said that is why Jesus died for us! That night this little girl, who had been through such difficult and dangerous medical issues, bowed her head and prayed a child’s prayer of faith and joined God’s family.

As things went back to normal, Libi became aware of her ability to run with great speed. She was able to finish third two different years in the Parks and Recreation All Wayne County (Detroit) track sprint finals against many quality runners. When I watched her as she played basketball and softball, with such fervor, I couldn’t help but recall what one doctor told me. If you let her play and she has a failure in the heart system, it could be catastrophic – but – sometimes we have to let our kids do things they love and live with the unknown risk. It was also a relief to know that the doctors were going to watch her for the next twelve years.

Fear did its best to try and paralyze us, and force us to live under its dictatorship. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7   “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Through it all we were forced to learn about the great resource we have in Hebrews  4:16  “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  We found a peace that passes all understanding in prayer at the throne of God. Our baby girl was in the care of the Great Physician, the One who knows all of the details of our lives. We don’t have to worry about getting in touch with Him. He is always on call.
Libi went on to star in high school basketball and softball. She also had a wonderful four year career playing softball for the Liberty University Lady Flames. She graduated with a teaching degree and taught at our school until she married and started building a family.
When a storm involving the health of your child blows fear into your life, remember where you can go to find help. Enter into His presence boldly, because that is the way your God requests you to come.
Isn’t God’s grace a wonderful thing?

Roger Allen Cook

I love to write stories about God’s grace.  If you have a story I should consider, please contact me at:    roger.cook@southsidefamily.com    

Other stories can be viewed at Southside.church/grace