Blog 2005 February 17, 2005 - Kika has been sick for about three weeks now. It started with a slight fever which disappeared but she continued showing other symptoms of being sick—lack of appetite, sleeping a lot during the day, complaining of headaches, etc. We took her to a neurologist who examined her and particularly checked her shunt to see if it was working properly. According to him, the shunt was okay so he ordered some tests done. We did a urine and blood test. The urine test showed a urinary tract infection. He prescribed some antibiotics for it but after Kika completed the treatment, she still was not feeling well. So we went to a pediatrician who diagnosed Kika as having a more aggressive infection, possibly affecting her kidneys. We did another round of antibiotics, this time via injections. Kika seems to be doing better but regularly complains that her head hurts. If in fact it is a malfunctioning of her shunt, it is often difficult to tell. We will be doing more tests now that we've finished administering the antibiotics. Hopefully, the tests will give a better indication as to how she is doing. We are also considering doing an MRI as well. Please pray that Kika gets back to normal as the whole ordeal has left us desperate for her complete recovery. February 27, 2005 - Here's Kika's latest joke.     Kika: Daddy, laugh.     Daddy: Ha! Ha! Ha!     Kika: What's so funny? June 27, 2005 - I realize that it has been a long time since my last entry, for which I apologize. I especially apologize for that fact that I did not update Kika's blog in light of the sickness she was going through as stated in the next to the last entry. In regards to that, Kika eventually recovered with no serious problems. We're still not sure what the problem was, but, thank the Lord, it finally disappeared. Since then we have made two trips to the states. One was to renew our family's visas for Mexico and the other was to attend our daughter's graduation in Houston. A week or so later we participated in a children's camp for the children of missionaries from Mexico and Central America. There were over 60 children there between the ages of 9 and 11. My wife and I helped with the classes and organization of the event. Kika went with us on all of the above trips and made quite an impression on all she met. She has such a sunny disposition that people are naturally drawn to her. Hopefully, I will be more faithful to update Kika's Blog. I have had a hard time working on the web sites I manage, just so much else to do. August 30, 2005 - I'm still finding it difficult to keep up with adding new entries to the site. There is just so much to do. I even missed writing something for Kika's birthday which was on the 14th of this month. We had a nice birthday party for her and her older brother Steven who has the same birth date as Kika. We went to a friend's house that has a swimming pool and the kids had a great time. Kika hasn't been having any health issues recently, which has been a blessing. We have put her on a diet as she is getting quite chubby so we're having her cut down on the starches and such. She's also getting bigger simply due to the fact that she is getting older and so it is becoming gradually more difficult to carry her around, pick her up to wash her hands, etc. Eventually we will have to come to grips with this issue as she will have outgrown her "little girl" phase becoming a full-fledged kiddo. Either I will develop a good set of muscles, or we're going to have to come up with some practical solutions. We already have acquired a bigger wheelchair for her but are waiting to use it until she outgrows her little one. So life goes on, happily, thank the Lord! On the horizon we are planning on a trip to Minnesota for one of my older daughter's wedding. We still don't know if we'll fly, bus, drive or walk, but somehow we are going to make it. October 2005 - Well, we made it to Minnesota by a series of miracles, as usual. Right before the time that we needed to go I had done some artwork for Donnie, my daughter Angela's finance. We put the payment for this work towards our trip and so drove up to Houston from Guadalajara and from there flew to Minneapolis. We almost canceled the trip as hurricane Katrina was headed for Houston just two days before! But, thank the Lord, it changed course and Houston was spared. We had a wonderful time visiting our loved ones there and seeing everyone after many years of being apart. November 7, 2005 - Kika woke with a fever and was vomiting. She didn't want to eat anything and couldn't hold anything down, including water. November 11, 2005 - We got Kika checked by a pediatrician. She still wasn't eating much and was complaining of headaches. Her fever was gone but she still was not better. The pediatrician checked her and found nothing wrong with her eyes, throat, ears, heart, lungs. So he diagnosed her as having a urinary tract infection. He prescribed some antibiotics which she took for the next week. November 19, 2005 - Even after taking the antibiotics there was little sign of progress in Kika's condition. We did a urine exam and sent the results to her urologist who prescribed a different antibiotic which had to be injected. He said that in a couple of days, Kika would be showing signs of getting better. November 26, 2005 - Kika was still not improving so we took her to her neurologist. He examined her and her shunt and declared that the shunt was working fine. However, we insisted that he do some tests to verify that the shunt was alright as we just were not convinced that it was. So we went to another hospital where he examined the shunt. He first tested it to see how the pressure was. To do this he inserted a needle connected to a thin transparent tube. Immediately he could see that something was wrong. The tube showed small bubbles inside it rather than being a continuous liquid. He then inserted a syringe through the skin and into the shunt. The liquid that he extracted was cloudy, foamy and yellowish indicating that the shunt was infected. He sent the sample to the laboratory but he already knew that an operation would have to be performed to remove the infected shunt. Thank the Lord we insisted he do the tests! From what we've heard, doctors are hesitant to operate as there are so many variables in these situations. However, they are very much inclined to trust the instincts and wishes of the parents who know their child better than anyone else. God bless our doctor who followed our leadings so that we could discover the root cause of Kika's sickness! We admitted Kika to the Civil Hospital here in Guadalajara and an operation was scheduled the following morning. November 27, 2005 - Kika went into surgery around 11 AM and remained there for around four hours. The operation had been a success and they were able to remove the infected shunt and place the new external shunt. Around 10 PM that same evening a brain scan was done to see how she was progressing. The scan revealed that Kika was hemorrhaging inside her skull. If they did not operate immediately Kika would die! So around 11:30 PM she went back to surgery. Around 4:30 AM the operation finished and the doctor gave us the good news that they were able to stop the bleeding. They also had done a blood transfusion and put a breathing device on her and put her in intensive care for observation before returning her to her room. Another brain scan was done later Monday morning which showed that the hemorrhaging had been stopped. Thank the Lord! Since that time, Kika has been under sedation and resting, only opening her eyes occasionally. She seems to recognize us and has spoken a few words, "Mommy, my head hurts." Which was a relief that she was able to talk, although she still seems quite groggy. November 29, 2005 - Kika is continuing to get better and is slowly starting to talk again and being more alert. She has asked for her toys and dollies and has begun to eat. Thank the Lord we made it through the first operation(s) and now our focus is on fighting the infection from her old shunt. I'm not sure how long that will take, but once it is cleared up, we will be preparing for putting in her new shunt. Whew! We are all pretty tired and have been under a lot of strain, but, we too, are slowly getting back to normal. The hospital where Kika is is quite nice and we are able to stay with her 24 hours a day. She is in a room with three other children all of whom are with one of their parents or a relative. We sleep on the floor and eat at a nearby food place, usually tacos or sandwiches. We're trying to work out shifts between my wife and I so that one of us is always at her side. As Kika stabilizes more we may work in shifts with some of our close friends and our daughter, Cheri. Thank God for our precious wonderful family! November 30, 2005 - Kika had a relatively good day today. She began eating solid food and was awake most of the time. In the afternoon she began complaining of a headache so they gave her something to relieve it. By the evening, she was talking away and even joking a bit until she fell asleep at 8:30 PM. December 1, 2005 - Beginning last night and this morning, Kika has been throwing up and has a fever. The doctors are not sure why this is happening. It could either be the original infection of the shunt, a new infection, or something else. Kika doesn't want to eat or even drink anything. So please keep praying that she will get over this, that the fever will pass and she will be able to keep her food down. Also pray that we can discover what is causing this so we will know what to do. I'd like to thank Joe, Kika's uncle, and Mig, Kika's good friend, for their entries in their blogs about Kika's condition. Thanks for your support and for encouraging everyone to pray for Kika. December 2, 2005 - The nurses were trying to find a new vein for the needle for Kika's intravenous tube. Through this tube she is getting all her medication and whatever else she needs. They poked her in a couple of places but could not find a good enough vein. Kika was crying and crying! Each time they'd wrap a surgical tube around her arm, press to find a vein, insert a needle, reposition the needle, and then try again. OUCH! So they counseled together and decided to put in a catheter that enters near the base of her neck and into the top of her heart. Apparently, in cases like this where they have to be hooked up for long periods of time, it is pretty much standard procedure. Such an internal catheter can last for 2-3 months and eliminates the need to keep searching for a new vein. For Kika, it was a relief in that they didn't have to keep poking her. (She keeps telling me about how many times the doctors "poked" her—poor thing!) The whole procedure took a little over an hour. We were all really praying as, even though it was the "routine" thing to do, still, it was inserting a tube into her heart! All went well, thank the Lord, and Kika was happy when it was all over. She got pretty talkative after that, and we had a good time chatting. One of the stories I told her while in the hospital was about the boy who cried "Wolf! Wolf!" I was just telling her that simply to have something to do. But later on, I used it as an example to Kika that she needs to be sure to tell me the truth about her condition—whether her head hurts, or she feels okay or not—so that I can know how she is really doing. Sometimes I'm not too sure if her updates are really what's going on. So I encouraged her to be honest so I will know what needs to be done. December 3, 2005 - Kika had a pretty good day today although she isn't eating. She had a slight fever during the morning, 38.5. Then she fell asleep for most of the morning, from 11 AM till 1 PM. She woke up in a good mood and her fever was gone by that time too, which was a good sign. The doctors took another sample of the fluid from her head and will do a test to see if the infection is gone. They will need to have three tests that are negative before they will be ready for the operation to put in the new internal shunt. 10 PM Late News Flash: Kika ate a whole tortilla this evening and called me to chat! She was very talkative and upbeat. Esther said that she noticed a real improvement in Kika's overall state (I, Dad, had been with her for the past couple of days, so I guess it didn't hit me so much :-) She told me about her books that mommy had brought and that she was feeling much better. We're still getting notes of encouragement from all around the world for Kika! It's just so wonderful! Kika's website has been having a lot of activity as a result as well. It's funny how every time I consider taking down the site, something happens and I reconsider. If nothing else, at least it is a great way to share her story and get much needed prayer! December 5, 2005 - I, Dad, haven't been to the hospital now for two days. But from the reports of my wife, Kika has been having her ups and down. The good news is that she has had three consecutive tests come back negative. This means she should soon be ready for the operation to put in her new shunt. The bad news is that she has been complaining of headaches, having a high fever of 39 on and off, for which they cannot tell why. They also did another brain scan in preparation for the operation that showed a small lesion. The doctors don't seem too worried about it. However, we're just having a battle about Kika having these fevers. We just don't know why and are praying desperately that they are not a sign of something very wrong. Well, our God is a God of miracles and many times tests our faith. It can really be trying--whew! I'm going to try to get to the hospital tomorrow morning to take over for Esther. She is sounding a bit "battle weary." God bless her! December 7, 2005 - Today, my wife and I tried to have a "day off" while our daughter, Cheri, stayed with Kika. It didn't exactly work out that way as we got a call that we needed to go give blood for Kika so that they would have it on hand in case they needed it. The operation to put in her new shunt is scheduled for Saturday the 10th. It turned out that we weren't able to give our blood today but will have to do so tomorrow. The doctors had said that they could use blood from the blood bank but we insisted that they use our blood for Kika, rather than some stranger. They agreed to our request and will keep our blood on hand specifically for Kika should she need it. At present, Kika doesn't have a fever and is in a pretty good mood. Her head hurts a bit but she is mainly resting. The doctors have done tests to be sure that she has no infection and is in the best possible shape for the operation. If she's not, the operation will be rescheduled. Please remember to pray for Kika on Saturday. When we know the time we will post it here, that is, if we're not at the hospital and are unable to post. December 10, 2005 - Well, all I can say is, all things change! So here we go! Thursday evening we discovered that Kika's external shunt had somehow come out of her head! Also, her third exam results were positive instead of negative. This meant that Kika still had an infection and they would not be able to put in her new internal shunt. Then we found out that the infection she now had was a new one so they had to change her medication. Without her external shunt there was a danger that Kika might slip into a coma so we kept her under close watch. My wife and I stayed with her for the next two days, Thursday and Friday. For awhile we wondered if there might be a possibility that Kika's condition might miraculously improve, showing that she no longer needed a shunt at all! This has happened in some situations from what we've read. However, as time went on, Kika didn't improve but got worse. Kika was constantly sleeping and when you would try to wake her up she was starey-eyed and unresponsive. So, by Friday afternoon, an operation was performed to put in a new external shunt. The operation took two hours and was successful, thank the Lord! Kika slept all through Friday night and has been sleeping for most of today, Saturday. When she does wake up, she is talkative and even joking, being her cute little self. Whew! We have really been praying desperately through all this. We have received some personal words from Jesus via others as well as our own prayers for her, which we have been studying over and claiming the promises from. It has also been a big comfort having all your prayers at this time. Thanks! So, at present, we are fighting this new infection and will need to have three negative test results before plans for the operation to put in her new internal shunt can be made. I think with all of the above it has set Kika's return home from the hospital back another week or so. Other news is that Esther was able to donate blood for Kika, should she need it. We also miraculously found out that one of our long time friends and Bible class students, has a brother who works at the hospital where Kika is. He is in a top position and will personally speak to the director to work out the lowest possible price for our stay at the hospital! Wow! God is in control! December 11, 2005 - Kika had a bad night last night. She was vomiting a lot and finally the vomit was red with blood. Also, the fluid coming from her head which had been clear, turned red. Perhaps it is an indication that she is hemorrhaging internally again. The doctors are discussing what steps to take. She will probably need a brain scan to see what is wrong and may need an operation to stop the cause. Please pray that Kika can stabilize and that the doctors have wisdom in all that they do. Also, please pray for my wife and I, we are getting quite drained from all of this. But we are confident that the Lord is in control and will help Kika to come through victorious. December 13, 2005 - The latest news is that Kika has a very serious infection which the doctors say will take 3-4 weeks to treat! Apparently, her first original infection had been taken care of after which she developed this new one which she caught while in the hospital. This is really discouraging news. We are already getting quite tired after 17 days of being at the hospital. We had hopes that Kika might be home for Christmas and now, this news. Of course, our God is a God of miracles and He can heal anything, so we'd like to ask for your prayers that this "3-4 weeks" will not be necessary. We'd also like to ask for help financially at this time. Some of the expenses are hitting us now—brain scans, extra medicine, transportation to and from the hospital, etc. Her overall hospital expenses will come at the end of her stay. Thanks! December 15, 2005 - The name of the infection Kika is fighting is "pseudomona." It is an aggressive "hospital" infection and the minimum treatment is 21 days. Well, that's what the doctors say. We also found out that it is in Kika's blood, and from what we understand, it can be fatal. The doctors are optimistic as it was discovered early on and they are treating it with "the very best antibiotic in the world" for this type of infection. We are doing our part as well to do what we can to treat it with the best medicine in the world—prayer, and lots of it thanks to the worldwide prayer that all of you have been sending Kika's way! I must admit, if we didn't know all of the above, my report would be much more positive. Kika has been slowly starting to eat solid food, talking more, and generally looking and acting better. I guess it's just that her body is really battling with this infection. She does have other problems right now which all have their roots in this one infection. She has a rash on her back. On her neck and under her chubby little chin, the skin is red or raw-looking. Just yesterday we noticed she has a bad diaper rash. We are treating all of these, but, like I said, they seem to all stem from the same infection. On Tuesday evening, they gave Kika a packet of blood, the one mom gave for her, as her blood count was low. We are now asking around for other donors for her as we would prefer that any blood used was from someone we knew. One sweet girl here in our city, Angie, offered to donate but was turned down by the hospital due to a low blood count. So we will keep looking for others to help. We are seriously contemplating in investing in a little portable DVD player so that we can show documentaries and movies to Kika to help keep her mind occupied. We're not so sure about it as we don't want to risk it getting stolen like what happened with our cell phone. But it might be nice, seeing we have about another month ahead of us. So the battle rages on. For those writing us, please forgive us if we are late in answering or don't answer at all. We're finding it difficult just reading our mail, let alone trying to answer it. And we are getting emails on a daily basis—thanks everybody! We've gotten in some donations and are praying for more. Another thing you can pray for is that we are trying to work out some sort of privacy for Kika. From what we understand, the ideal scenario for someone with what Kika has is to put them in a private room. Kika's room has three other beds/patients in it. The infectologists taped a couple of little plastified signs on the end of Kika's bed with precautionary warnings about her condition, etc., but by far, a private room would be best. An alternative, which we've inquired about, is to move Kika's bed to the far end of the room near the window. There is also a curtain which could be used to partially close it off, thus separating it somewhat from the other patients. Please pray that it will be possible to do this as we feel it would be a good precautionary measure in favor of Kika's recovery and healing from this infection. Thanks! December 19, 2005 - Kika's outward appearance continues to get better while her battle against the infection continues to be a struggle. Two days ago the doctors were optimistic that Kika was making good progress and that they wanted to operate to put in her internal shunt either Wednesday or Thursday of this week. This would minimize the risk of further infection via her external shunt. It seems that the external shunt, being inside her head and outside, is highly susceptible to infection so the sooner the internal shunt could be put in, the better. However, the news as of this morning is that it may not be possible to put in the internal shunt. Instead, we might need to put in another–the third, for Kika–external shunt! If so, this would be Kika's fourth operation. Outwardly, Kika is eating more and being more her self, talking and joking, etc. She is getting quite uncomfortable from being in bed for so long, but is generally in a good mood. We also went ahead and purchased a DVD player as Kika's Christmas present and she just loved it! It was so nice to show her some videos to help break the monotony and give her active little mind something to do. So it looks like we'll have Christmas in the hospital this year. Please pray against any more complications and that the Lord will continue to give the doctors wisdom in the decisions they make. Also pray for our wisdom as well in our decisions. We are holding fast to the Lord's promises of deliverance, but are also anxious for this time of trial to be over. A new picture of Kika can be found here. December 21, 2005 - This morning Kika underwent an operation to put in a new, her third, external shunt. They also put in a new internal catheter to her heart as the other one was running the risk of further infection. Kika handled the operation well, at least from what we could tell. She was awake right after it was over. She seemed okay, but was a bit grumpy and uncomfortable from the whole ordeal. We are also now using our own sheets for her bedding as this will minimize the risk of infection from the hospital sheets. Kika's rash on her bottom and back are a major concern and we are treating both several times a day. We just need to lick this infection once and for all so that we can get the internal shunt in–the whole reason for all of this! December 30, 2005 - Well, it has been a long time but I believe the end of the tunnel is in sight! Tomorrow morning, Saturday the 31st, the last day of 2005, Kika will be operated on to put in her new internal shunt. Whew! After that, if all goes well, it will be about three more days of observation and she can come home! The third and final culture was finished yesterday afternoon, it was negative. The doctors would not proceed with the operation to put in the shunt until they had three consecutive negative cultures. It takes 7 days before they officially declare a culture "closed," as they watch it for that time period making sure no bacteria grows in the sample. Kika has been in good spirits and eating well for the past ten days. She did have a slight temperature one day, but it soon went back to normal. There was also a suspicion that she might have developed some sort of fungus around her heart where the internal catheter was, but an ultrasound showed no such signs–another close call. So we'd like to ask for your prayers for this last step of the operation and the days afterwards, that Kika will do well and there are no complications. I've had it with complications :-) We are planning a "Welcome Home Kika" party for when she comes back. Kika wants chocolate cake. The 13 year-old boy in the bed next to Kika was not so fortunate. He had been in our room for the past two weeks. He was brain dead, I'm not sure why, and they had him on life support all that time. Finally, this morning, his heart gave out. The doctors asked everyone to leave the room while they checked him. About ten minutes later, they came out and called the parents to the office to break the news to them. They had been our neighbors for the past two weeks and I wept along with them at their loss. I can only thank God and all our friends for their prayers and support during this time. Had it not been for the power of prayer, Kika may have suffered a similar fate. I also am deeply grateful to the doctors and nurses of the hospital where Kika was. They did an excellent job of caring for her and doing their very best to help Kika through this time. Perhaps I can write a thank you to them and have it translated into Spanish for them to read. They have become our good friends and angels of mercy in our time of greatest need. God bless each and every one of them!