A terrifying experience for one Steinbach family has left them closer to God and closer to one another.
This summer, their 17-month-old son, Nixon, fell ill. It started with a stomach ache and turned into something much worse.
After two days of constant pain, discomfort and lack of appetite, Nixon's mom, Jaycia Koop, knew something wasn't right. After calling her mom, she decided it was best to take him to the Steinbach Quick Care Clinic, which had a last-minute cancellation that afternoon.
"I knew that was the Lord," said Jaycia.
After seeing the doctor, they thought Nixon had intussusception, where your bowels kind of telescope into each other, which can be extremely painful and would explain the symptoms he was having.
But while changing his diaper at the doctor's office, they noticed some blood, and the doctor quickly sent them to the Children's Hospital in Winnipeg.
After a few tests and a couple of rounds of bloodwork, they discovered that Nixon was suffering from HUS or Hemolytic uremic syndrome.
The doctor let Jaycia and her husband, Mike, know that Nixon was going into kidney failure and would need dialysis.
"What we didn't know at the time was how severe Nixon's HUS was. In very severe cases, seizures can be a part of it, where the blood affects the brain."
They were admitted to the hospital on a Thursday, and by Friday, Nixon had had an eight-minute seizure, followed by several smaller seizures.
He had his first round of dialysis that day, followed by a quick visit from his kidney doctor, who said, "All things considered, he had a fairly good day, but I don't think we've seen the worst for Nixon yet.”
On Sunday, his oxygen levels plummeted, and Nixon was intubated.
"Thankfully, again, Mike was there," said Jaycia. "We look back and see in all the really, really big things, the diagnosis, the big seizure, and now his intubation, and there were a few other big things further down in his journey where Mike wasn't supposed to be there. We often did a lot of tagging teaming, and for all of those big moments, he was there too! We know that that was the Lord's timing and His blessing for me because I don't know how I would've done it without him there."
Jaycia says while in the PICU, in her most hopeless moment, the Lord spoke to her.
"I just had the Lord give me a picture of Nixon standing wearing a backpack and holding a first day of kindergarten sign. In that moment, I knew that was the Lord telling me Nixon was going to be okay. He is going to walk. He is going to talk, and he is going to hold his backpack and carry it to kindergarten, and that is a picture I have clung to through all of this."
Eventually, Nixon was extubated, and his kidney dialysis began again. This care continued for six weeks.
"There were several things that kept me going," said Jaycia. " Knowing that Nixon had no choice, he had to keep going. He had to go through all of these procedures. There were many times I wanted to run out of the hospital and not look back."
Another thing that kept Jaycia going was the support from the community and knowing they had plenty of people praying for them.
"Just knowing that people were praying, especially in the times when I didn't have the words, or the strength, or the energy. I truly believe we were carried on the wings of those prayers," said Jaycia. "People just rallied around us. We had gift cards. We had meals, gas gift cards, and parking. We were just completely humbled and are eternally grateful for the support."
Jaycia says the biggest thing that helped her through this traumatic situation was her faith.
"I don't know how people go through trauma without our Lord and Saviour. Even having the hope of heaven and that relationship with the Lord, it has been so hard, but we truly feel like we've been carried."
Jaycia says this experience has also helped her grow in her faith.
"Growing up as a Christian and growing up in church, you hear phrases like 'peace that passes all understanding.' I can truly say that I know what that means. There were some incredibly dark days that felt so hopeless, and people would send me prayers or tell me they were praying, and I would feel that peace. I just had this unexplainable peace. As hard as this summer has been, it has been incredibly faith-building and reminded me of what is important in life."
Nixon has officially been home for a couple of weeks and is recovering well.
"He is joyful again. My heart is bursting with joy as well! He has been through so much. Come so, so far, and seeing him smile, run and play again is just the most precious gift!”
With files from Adi Loewen