by Lorilyn Roberts
Please read the following article that appeared
on my blog and then I will ask you a question:
Monster Inside My Daughter
“I feel a pulse,” one of the medics said.
The paramedics worked feverishly on Manisha to make sure she was still alive. My beautiful seven-year-old daughter from Nepal lay on the floor unconscious at the O’Connell Center of the University of Florida.
“Has she ever had a seizure?” another one asked?
“No, no,” I said in bewilderment. Manisha rolled over and vomited.
One emotion consumed me: Fear. The enormity of single parenting hit me like lightening.
I cried out, “Where are you, God? I feel so alone.”
After hooking up stabilizing IV’s, Manisha was whisked off in an ambulance to Shands Teaching Hospital. I found a pay phone and called my mother. Her first comment was, “Do you know what day this is?”
I remembered—September 19. Four years to the day and almost to the hour, my father had died of a brain tumor. It was about 5:00 p.m. My shattered world continued to close in on me. A short time later my worst fears were confirmed.
“There is something on the CAT scan. We have a called a neurologist,” I heard the nurse say.
“No, no, no,” every cell in my body cried out. “God, you can’t let this happen. Not again!”
But God was silent. The next nine days of hospitalization were filled with tests—MRI, gallium scan, spinal tap, TB test, HIV test, numerous blood draws, and too many questions and not enough answers by doctors doing their daily rounds with medical students in tow. Manisha had what in medical parlance is called a “zebra.”
As the days passed in the hospital, I asked God for two things that humanly speaking seemed impossible. I prayed first that the doctors would not have to do surgery. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing Manisha’s beautiful thick, curly black hair shaved off. The ugly scars of surgery still lingered in my mind from my dad’s brain surgery. And I prayed that whatever was in Manisha’s head would not be cancerous. I had asked God to heal my father of a brain tumor and he died. Could I trust God for Manisha’s healing?
It was critical that the doctor’s make the correct diagnosis. The wrong treatment could kill her. Did she have a malignant brain tumor or a worm inside her head? Manisha had been adopted by me from Nepal at the age of three—old enough to be exposed to the extreme poverty of Nepal and lack of clean drinking water. 57.1 percent of the water in Nepal is considered unsatisfactory for human consumption, contaminated with feces.
Manisha’s condition turned out to be caused by a tapeworm infection of the brain—the most common parasitic infection of the nervous system. The larvae can travel anywhere in the body—the muscles, brain, eye, and other structures. The condition, known as neurocysticercosis, is still relatively rare in this country, but increasingly is appearing on the radar as part of the differential diagnosis for seizures.
Thankfully, twelve years later, Manisha is a healthy, well-adjusted 19-year-old finishing her A.A. degree at Santa Fe College—six months ahead of schedule.
Why did God allow this “nightmare” to happen? I don’t know why God allows the hard things in our lives, but I do know God never wastes anything. I hope writing about neurocysticercosis today will bring awareness to this very preventable disease. International adoptive parents and travelers to the developing world should seek appropriate medical care upon returning to the U.S. if they have been exposed to poor sanitary conditions or contaminated water.
In spite of the trials of single parenting, the years following that dreadful day of September 19, 1994, have been filled with life and joy. Manisha soon will be leaving home to make her own way in the world and I reflect on her middle name Hope—with God, there is always hope, and for that I am thankful.
For more on Manisha’s story, be sure to watch Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me” on August 25, 10-11pm EST. I have also written a book, Children of Dreams, that tells the complete story, available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstores.
You can now watch the film clip from the show on Youtube here.
|Manisha, Lorilyn, and Joy (Manisha's sister)|
So how did I—on a single blog post—interest the producers of a wildly popular television show so much that they contacted me and filmed my daughter’s story?
Notice the title of my blog post, which is similar to the name of the “Monsters Inside Me” show. I also meta tagged the article with relevant words like “worms in the brain,” “neurocysticercosis,” and other terms relevant to the topic.
When I asked one of the producers how she found me – she actually couldn’t remember, except to say they needed one more feature to finish out the year’s schedule, and she was searching the internet and found my blog piece.
|Lorilyn and Manisha with the "Monsters Inside Me" producers|
|Manisha in front of the camera|
Don’t underestimate who might come upon your writings in the blogosphere. You never know how one person might impact your writing career. Looking back, there is no doubt God was at work, as the producer told me they had never managed to get the arrangements set up so quickly to film a feature length piece. Ours was the lead story—which involved many doctors and coordination of schedules.
Even a little Nepali girl was able to re-enact my daughter’s scenes. Several months earlier, I had made my book free on a Yahoo adoption group user’s site. The mother “bought” my book. Little did I know, even then, God was planning ahead. There aren’t many seven-year-old adopted Nepali girls anywhere in the United States, and she lived two hours away from us.
Don’t give up – keep plugging away, giving God the glory, knowing that all good things come from God’s scarred hands and in His timing. Life is truly an adventure when we leave all the spectacular possibilities with Him—and even more than we expect.