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Dan holds his listless daughter at Urgent Care where doctors removed a tick and sent her straight to the ER at St. John's. Courtesy photo

JACKSON, Wyo. — Christina Feuz had never seen her daughter so ill. Not like this.

It started with pain in her arms and legs. Six-year-old Isabella (“Isa” for short) went to bed that night in pain. Mom thought it would pass, but in the morning, Isa was hurting even more and very lethargic.

It started with pain in the legs, then arms. By morning, Isa was listless. Courtesy photo

“Mommy, my legs hurt…and my arms and hands,” Isa complained.

Christina left for work, reluctantly. She instructed her longtime nanny Molly Pickerill to call if Isa did not feel any better after a couple of hours. Molly called at 11 a.m. Isa was getting worse, she said.

Christina cleared her desk and was preparing to leave work when her cousin Jamie DeVries Young stopped by unexpectedly to pick up some family hand-me-downs. For Christina, a strong believer in the Christian faith, it was nothing less than divine intervention.

“Have you checked her for ticks?” DeVries Young asked, matter-of-factly.

Molly, the family nanny, found the culprit—a tick gorged and embedded in the back of Isa’s neck. Courtesy photo

DeVries Young lives on an old Feuz homestead ranch so she was familiar with ticks and what sicknesses they might bring. But Christina thought, I live in a suburban subdivision; ticks are not a problem here.

“It was the way she said it, like it was the most ordinary thing in the world you should do,” Christina recalls. “It didn’t make sense, but I felt led to listen to her warning.”

Christina called home to Molly and asked her to check Isa for ticks. Sure enough, she found one embedded in the back of the young girl’s neck.

Dan holds his daughter at Urgent Care. “She was like a rag doll,” Christina said. Courtesy photo

Christina called her husband Dan at work and both parents raced home.

“As I was driving, I felt with every ounce of my inner being that Jamie had just delivered a supernatural lifesaving message from God. I knew without a shadow of doubt she was a human messenger for us,” Christina remembers.

When Christina and Dan got home, they could not believe what they saw. Their daughter was like a rag doll. Isa could hardly hold her head up, her body was limp.

Christina and Dan raced their ‘peanut’ to Urgent Care where a doctor removed the tick and sealed it in a urine specimen cup. Isa was then off to the ER at St. John’s Health where a doctor was awaiting their arrival.

By now, Isa could hardly move at all. Dr. Christine Turner, the family physician, consulted with the ER doctor and agreed Isa needed to be life-flighted to the Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Something was going on and it wasn’t clear why Isa’s condition was deteriorating so rapidly.

Isa was immediately life-flighted to a hospital in Salt Lake. Courtesy photo

With oxygen, a catheter, and IV in place, Christina boarded the plane with Isa. Dan started making his way there by vehicle—a four-and-a-half-hour drive.

By the time the plane landed in Salt Lake 45 minutes later, Isa was completely paralyzed. Her breathing was labored. Christina prayed. Prayed her husband would get there in time. Prayed doctors would find what was wrong. Prayed the prayer of mothers watching their baby girl become the center of a whirlwind of attention in the ICU.

In addition to the ICU team, a neurologist was called in to diagnose the paralysis. Several tests were ordered. One by one, doctors ruled out botulism, a stroke, Guillain-Barre syndrome—anything that might cause such a massive neurological disorder.

“Isa was very scared,” Christina says. “She was barely there. She could talk but she was not focused at all, not alert.”

The tick was removed and put in a container for later identification. Courtesy photo

The evening grew late. A spinal tap and MRI were ordered. Doctors were running out of ideas.

But the tick. Christina had brought it with her in case. Infectious disease experts consulted with one another. Had anyone seen a tick able to do this to a child? They examined the tick, observed the patient, and agreed on a potential diagnosis: tick-borne paralysis.

At her lowest moment, Christina recalls, “Isa was very scared. She was barely there.” Courtesy photo

It was a longshot. The condition, and the tick that can cause disease, is extremely rare. No one at the hospital had seen anything like it for years. Still, it checked all the boxes. Tingling, then pain, starting in the legs and moving up the body until it can affect the lungs, making it hard to breathe.

The tick was thought to be a very rare species—one of only two in the United States—that can bring on full paralysis with its pathogens. It had been some 2 1/2 years since the hospital had seen a similar case.

Near midnight, as doctors and nurses prepped Isa for a spinal tap and MRI, Dan pleaded with medical personnel to hold off on any additional procedures. He knew his daughter was already terrified and he had seen small signs of improvement since they left the ER in Jackson. If it was paralysis brought on by toxins of a tick, Isa should begin recovering, they assured him. And she did. Rapidly.

Isa made a quick recovery beginning 12 hours after the tick was removed. Courtesy photo

Slowly, Isa began moving little at a time; some 12 hours after the removal of the tick. A light returned to her eyes, and she could move her feet and hands and was regaining focus.

By 4 a.m. the catheter was removed. At 8 a.m. the next day, tears of anguish turned to joy as Isa wobbled her way to the bathroom with mom’s help.

“God is so good,” Christina said. “Witnessing His healing handwork so swiftly was breathtaking.”

Isabella is home now in Jackson. Follow up tests show she appears fully recovered and showing no lingering effects from the incident.

Well-wishers back home prayed, hoped, and waited for news. Courtesy photo