The sunshine peered through the kitchen window as I sat at my table, trying to hold back my exhausted, heartbroken tears. I can’t do this anymore, I thought.
My 9-year old son Brandon sat next to me, staring vacantly at a bowl of chicken noodle soup. This used to be his favorite meal…but the soup had gotten cold without a single bite taken. I got up to reheat the soup in the microwave once more. As I cleared the lump in my throat, Brandon flew into a fury, covering his ears and screaming. I jumped with a startled reflex, and mentally berated myself for upsetting the quietness that had become my son’s only haven of peace.
I set the soup down in front of him, urging him to try eating again. Looking at the clock, we had been “trying” for 90 minutes now. Tears welling, I blinked hard, commanding them to stop as I saw Brandon attempting to reach for his spoon. His hand wouldn’t cooperate—it stopped and started, in a repetitive, jerking fashion. With a face full of anguish, Brandon repeated a nonsensical phrase over and over.
“Ok, Brandon, you finally got the spoon. Good job. Now get a bite of soup. You can do it, honey.” I tried to stay calm, knowing that any increase in volume or change in tone of my voice could take us back to square one.
Autism was one thing—and had been our reality for 7 years. However, when Brandon was afflicted with a second neurological condition known as PANDAS, a true test of our faith began.
Earlier that winter, he had contracted a strep infection without any obvious symptoms. As his body produced antibodies to fight the infection, the antibodies attacked his brain in an autoimmune response (aka PANDAS). This devastated his neurological functioning. He began to develop Tourette’s-like “tics,” both vocal and motor, and as anxiety took over his personality, he quickly became a victim to full-blown obsessive-compulsive disorder. Our once cheerful and happy boy was tormented and riddled with anxiety. He had become a vacant shell of a child, and we no longer recognized him.
Brandon’s daily functioning was monumentally impaired: simple tasks such as getting dressed, toileting, eating a meal, leaving the house, and going to bed, took hours to complete. Every moment of his day was dominated by anxiety and intricate rituals, accompanied by an enormous pressure on me to anticipate and minimize the next inevitable meltdown.
We consulted with numerous professionals: pediatric neurologists, rheumatologists, oncologists, psychologists, behavioral experts, and autism experts. When we got the diagnosis of PANDAS, our initial excitement to finally have a diagnosis quickly faded as doctors, one by one, told us that there was nothing that they could do to cure our son of this debilitating condition. This was, as we were repeatedly told, to be our new normal.
During this time, I cried out to God for answers, help, strength to endure, and above all, healing. There were certainly moments of despair, but I clung to God as the sovereign creator who knew and loved my son monumentally more than I could comprehend. I trusted, I wept, I prayed –the cycle went on for 18 months.
In desperation, my husband and I held a prayer session at our church. I remember sitting in a room, arms around Brandon as our friends, pastor, and the church elders surrounded us and offered up faith-filled prayers and petitions for healing (James 5:14-15). It was an incredible moment of love lived out in the unity of faith.
As we drove home from church that sunny April afternoon, I stared out the window, thinking-while-praying, Ok God, it’s in your hands…I know that you CAN, but WILL you heal my son? Give me the strength to keep going no matter what is ahead.
A moment later, out of blue, Brandon began singing (a rare moment at that time) a phrase over and over: Nothing is missing. Nothing is broken. These were lyrics to a song that we had sung earlier that day in church. As quickly as he had spontaneously and emphatically uttered those words, he fell silent. And I knew that his words were God’s answer to my prayer. Heather, trust me. Brandon is in my hands. You will soon see that nothing is missing or broken.
Over the coming months, Brandon gradually returned to the child we knew and recognized, and by the summer he was completely healed. There was no medical explanation for it, but we knew, and all who had joined us on our journey of faith, that we had witnessed a miracle.
God is so good! And He’s still in the business of miracles –able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20).
Have you experienced a miracle? I’d love to hear about it. Please share below!