My name is Nikole Gill and my husband Tom and I have been blessed with 7 beautiful children. Hope Danielle – 12, Amber Grace – 11, Joy Noelle – 10, Bethany Faith – 7, David Josiah – 4, Rachel Honor – 2 1/2, and Ramah Mercy – 1 year. I pray that as you read this Jesus will bring joy and hope to your heart. After all, it is all about Him.
It was February, 2005. Tom had been invited to preach at a church in Tampa, Fl. We had just had our 6th child, Rachel, so we decided to take the whole family and make it a long awaited vacation. We considered all of the children to be wonderful travel companions and although the new baby was only 6 weeks old, she would be no exception. Tom and I and the children packed up the Suburban and headed to Tampa with great anticipation. Our first eleven days were wonderful. We went to the beach nearly every day and even had the opportunity to take a boat out on the ocean. We were also able to visit the Tampa Aquarium. We had spent 11 days there and were in the process of packing to leave for home when Rachel, then 7 weeks old developed a low grade fever. She had been congested a few days prior to this, so when she got the fever I was a little concerned. I called her pediatrician back in Ohio and he told me that, with her being so young, if her fever went above 100.4 degrees that she would need to be seen by someone that could treat her. Saturday morning, March 12, her fever was 102. She had no other symptoms. She was such a good baby, she hardly ever cried. The only thing that might possibly have been abnormal was the fact that she slept a lot. But most newborns do, so it really hadn’t concerned me all that much.
Following the orders of our pediatrician, Tom and I took her to the All Children’s Hospital Emergency Room in St. Petersburg. There, after several hours, they diagnosed her with RSV Bronchiolitis and opted to keep her overnight for observation. I remember sitting in the ER holding her, looking at her beautiful little face, and noticing that the area around her eyes and nose appeared bruised. When I questioned the nurse about it, she told me that it may be due to the RSV. Nothing else was said about it. On Sunday they released her when all of her tests came back normal. Sunday night, back at the hotel, we noticed that her right eye began to swell a little and the fever still had not dissipated. By Monday morning her eye was completely swollen shut and extremely red and puffy. She had the best disposition, but she was still sleeping a lot. We were supposed to leave the next morning (Tuesday, March 15) to come home to Ohio. I called her pediatrician back to see what they recommended that we do since our trip home would take a couple of days. He told me to take her back to the ER so that they could examine her again. Tom and I had NO idea that she was as sick as we were about to find out.
Back in the ER at All Children’s Hospital they drew blood and performed a CAT scan. During this time Tom and the other children were preparing to check out of the hotel where we were staying because we were scheduled to leave the next morning. The CAT scan results came back and showed an abscess behind Rachel’s right eye and severe sinusitis. The doctor said that Rachel needed to be in the hospital for 3 days so that they could treat her with IV antibiotics. I remember thinking, “WOW, 3 days. OK, Tom will need to look for another hotel and everything will be fine.” So that’s exactly what he did. He moved a little closer to the hospital and although we were all ready to head home, we were determined to make the best of the situation. Tom and I both figured that if God had allowed this to happen, there was someone that must have needed to hear about Jesus. We began to ask people to pray for Rachel and the whole situation in general. We trusted that God had everything taken care of back home with the church, so we were able to focus our attention on Rachel. I am so thankful that God gives us such wonderful family and friends within the body of Christ and that our needs are always met. They admitted Rachel to the hospital and I was able to stay with her and Hope, Amber Grace, Joy, Faith and David stayed with Daddy.
Tuesday morning the doctor came in and said that the news was worse than they had originally thought. After further reviewing the CAT scan they discovered that the cell tissue behind Rachel’s eyes, both of her ears and the bones behind her ears were all severely infected. The diagnosis was bilateral postseptal cellulitis with abscess, bilateral middle ear and mastoiditis, severe sinusitis and RSV bronchiolitis. She also said that they needed to do a spinal tap to check for meningitis and to make sure that the infection wasn’t in her brain.
The doctor said that they would need to begin radical antibiotic treatment and we would need to make arrangements to stay in St. Pete for at least 3 weeks. I remember praying, “God, I just need to call my husband. I need him here with me.” I asked the doctor if there was any way that we could get her to Children’s Hospital in Columbus without jeopardizing her health and they told me that the infection was so severe that if she were to travel, she would die. The doctor left and I immediately called Tom. I stood there, looking out Rachel’s hospital room window, and staring at the palm trees I could hardly speak to give my husband this seemingly horrible news. He prayed for her, and he just kept saying, “She’s going to be OK, Jesus will take care of her.” His strength in Christ was tremendous. We have always balanced each other out so well. And now, when I was so weak, God gave Tom enough strength for both of us. However, I still felt as if I were standing in the middle of a nightmare. We’ve always trusted that God would get us through any situation and He ALWAYS has. But this was something that we had never experienced before and I could literally feel my faith being tested.
It took a little time, but I finally regained my composure. All I could do was pray. As a mom you usually feel like you should be able to help your children through any trouble that they bring to you, in Jesus’ name. I must admit, I’ve put on my referee outfit many, many times. But this was one situation that I had absolutely no control over. It had to be Jesus. It’s all about Him anyway. The first Scripture that came to my mind was Psalm 118:17 “(Rachel) shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord!” They had some trouble getting an IV into Rachel because her veins are so tiny, but when they finally did, they began giving her fluids because she was not eating well and they hooked her up to oxygen and heart monitors. She looked so pitiful. There’s something about having your baby hooked up to all that STUFF that makes you feel completely helpless. They performed the spinal tap on Tuesday and after 48 hours everything came back clear. Thank God! People all over the world were praying for her. And now we were praying that somehow God would make a way for us to get her home to Columbus.
For the first time in two day’s I got to spend some time with my other babies. I was so glad to see them. Tom stayed with Rachel so I could see the others because they weren’t allowed in her room. When I came back into Rachel’s room that day I leaned my head down in her bed and called her name. She turned her head to look at me and when she saw me, she gave me the biggest smile. It was so special to me because that was the first time she had smiled since she was born. My heart leaped for joy! It was as if she was saying, “Mommy, it’s ok. I’m going to be fine.” Meanwhile, Tom had started to make arrangements at home for church and everything. God took care of it all. We even had people offer to drive/fly down to Florida to help with the kids so that Tom and I could be with Rachel. Having our family separated was very difficult. We do almost everything together, but the kids were absolutely wonderful and the older ones were so understanding. They were praying very hard for their baby sister. Thursday was a very good day! Although they had to pull the IV from her foot and insert a midline catheter in her little head, Rachel was responding well to antibiotics and the swelling in her eye was almost gone. Now the doctors were a little more optimistic about us flying her to Children’s in Columbus. That boosted our hopes tremendously! They told us to begin to check into it, but that she would need to be at All Children’s through the weekend.
By Friday night the doctors had agreed to allow Rachel to fly home with me and we immediately began to make arrangements. She was doing so well, eating better, staying awake longer, no fever, no swelling. God was answering our prayers in the way that we had hoped He would. Tom and I were taking turns staying at the hospital. It was so nice to be able to spend time with Hope, Amber, Joy, Faith and David, but Tom and I struggled, being apart from each other. God, however, was using this situation to make our marriage stronger as well. It is so hard to be apart from the one that you love, especially when that someone is your best friend. Thank God that He is the cord that binds us together; even when we’re apart. Tom is everything in a husband and father that I could ask for.
By Saturday everything was about ready for us to fly home. We had purchased a plane ticket and the doctors were making arrangements for Rachel to be accepted at Children’s Hospital in Columbus. Rachel had another CAT scan. They said that obviously the antibiotics were working since the swelling in her eye was gone, and that the abscess behind her eye was shrinking, however, there was no significant change with all the infection. They said that we needed to get her straight to Children’s Hospital on Monday when we got home so that they could continue IV antibiotics right away. Rachel was released from All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL on Monday morning and we went straight to Tampa Airport for Rachel and I to make our flight home. Tom was going to drive home with the other children and it would take a couple of days to get there.
So, we anxiously fought the morning rush hour traffic to get to Tampa Airport. Tom pulled up outside the door and dropped me off to check in. He went to look for a place to park and said he would bring Rachel and the others in himself. I got into the LONG check in line and as I was waiting, Tom called me on my cell phone. He told me that he was going to have to drive around until I got checked in because he couldn’t park the Suburban with the kid’s toy 4 wheeler on top of the car. The ceilings in the parking garage were too low and he couldn’t get through. We agreed that we would say our goodbyes outside since he wouldn’t be able to park the car. Moments later he called me back and said, “Look toward the front door. Do you see a black man with dreadlocks, wearing a green security jacket?” “Yes”, I answered. “Well, wave to him because he’s looking for you.” So I stood there in the midst of the crowded airport, waving my arms frantically, trying to get the attention of the security guard. He motioned for me to come to the front of the line and proceeded to have me checked in right away. I thanked God for His favor and called Tom back on his cell phone and before I could tell him that I was finished checking in he excitedly said, “have a seat and wait there because were coming in.” I was so relieved. Now we would have that much more time together before Rachel and I went through to security. I sat down and it didn’t take long before Tom and the children approached me with tears in their eye’s. Tom said, “You’re not going to believe what just happened out there!” He went on, “You know that security guy? Well, I was driving around in circles when he stepped out in front of the car, stopping all of the traffic behind me, and motioned for me to pull to the side of the road. When I pulled over, he came to the window and asked, “Brother, what is it that you need?” Tom’s reply was, “I need a place to park my car. My baby is sick and she and my wife are flying home to Ohio this morning.” “That’s going to be taken care of” the man said. “What do you need?” Tom thought for a moment. “We need prayer to get home safely.” “No, no, no, that’s gonna happen. What do you need?” The man asked again. Tom said he thought harder as lots of little things entered into his mind, money, food, peace. The man looked at Hope in the front seat of the car and asked her, “Honey, what do you need?” Hope replied, “We need to get home.” “That’s gonna be taken care of” he said again. He pressed Tom once more, “Brother, what do you NEED?” Tom’s immediate response was “We need Rachel healed”! “Ahhhh”, replied the man, brilliantly smiling and nodding his head. “It’s done. Your daughter is healed.”
He and Tom prayed for Rachel completely believing that God was able. Tom said that it was one of those situations where there was no need to explain to the guy what to pray for. He already knew what God was doing, we just needed to agree. He finished praying, then he said, “Now, go do what you’ve gotta do.” He put a tag on our car so that Tom could leave the car there and he came inside the airport. After we said goodbye, Tom went back to the car with the kids and he met the security guard again. Tom had some money that he wanted to give the guy to bless him (that’s just the way Tom is), but the guy refused to take it. The security guard said, “Isn’t it amazing that God let me live this long, to be at this particular place at this particular time, just to serve you?” Tom had been the recipient of a truly humbling experience. God is so amazingly good!
Rachel and I made it to Columbus almost effortlessly. Waiting there for us were my mother and stepfather, two friends from the Worthington Fire Dept. (to escort us safely to the hospital) and unknown to me; a pediatrician that was planted on the plane just for Rachel in case anything went wrong. God is soooo amazingly good!!!
We arrived at the Columbus Children’s Hospital Emergency Room at 2:30pm and waited unexpectedly for 6 1/2 hours. We were supposed to be pre-admitted but something went wrong and we were told to wait. God had a purpose for that too, because we were able to witness to a couple of ladies and pray with a mother whose baby was also sick. We were finally admitted and the nurses immediately tried to get an IV into Rachel, but were unsuccessful. As a matter of fact they were unsuccessful all 5 times that they tried over a period of about 9 hours. They never did get an IV in her at all.
I kept communicating with Tom and the kids as they drove home. That was so rough. We still were not together physically, but Spiritually we never left each other at all.
Tuesday the doctor came in with his entourage of interns and examined Rachel and asked me a million questions about her diagnosis and treatment she received at the hospital in Florida. He kept saying to me, “She looks fine! I just can’t believe that all of this is wrong with her.” My reply was always, “Yes, from the outside she looks wonderful. It’s what’s on the inside that concerns me.” My pediatrician had assured me that this doctor was one of the best Infectious Disease doctors in the state of Ohio, so I had complete confidence that they would do whatever needed to be done to help Rachel. However, I kept thinking to myself, “If they just do a CAT scan so they could see for themselves.” Suddenly, not as though I had forgotten, God reminded me of the words of the security guy at the airport. “It’s done.” Now I just needed confirmation that she truly was healed. Tom never doubted for a second that God had already healed her. I didn’t want to doubt, but I admit that I did struggle to believe.
The doctor did order another CAT scan, and once again they couldn’t get an IV in her. Looking back I know that that was God’s way of saying, “She’s not going to need an IV.” The other doctors were telling me that if this summary (from Florida) was correct, she may need to be kept in the hospital for four to six more weeks. Waiting overnight for the CAT scan results made us about crazy. When the doctor’s came in the next day (Wednesday) with the results I thought I was going to need resuscitation. All eight of them stood before me smiling as the one said, “We don’t have the CAT scan that they performed in Florida to compare this to because we never requested a copy of it. But IF there was something there… It’s gone now!” I shared with the doctors what had happened at the airport and how I knew now that God had healed my baby girl. Praise God that they were able to see first hand God’s awesome power, whether they believed in it or not. What could they say? What else could I say? I knew my God was able, even though I questioned whether or not He would do it for me. I am so completely thankful for the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. It’s because of Him that Rachel IS healed. I pray for that same hope for everyone who hears Rachel’s Story…
Rachel was released from the hospital that day with a prescription for oral antibiotics, and she and I made it home one hour before Tom and her sisters and brother. The Gill Family is together again, always under the grace and mercy of our Lord, Jesus Christ! To Him be glory and HONOR both now and forever. Amen!
Time does not heal all wounds, but His wounds heal for ALL TIME!