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Three sisters show faith through illness

With three of her four children experiencing health challenges, it would be easy for Natasha Wilson to ask "Why me?" But that phrase is not allowed in the Wilson home, so she and her family instead ask “What is expected of us now?” — a question inspired by LDS apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

In 2009, Bella Wilson, 4 years old at the time, went to the hospital for a routine tonsillectomy. During the procedure, Bella’s stomach perforated for an unknown reason, and she was transported by helicopter from Ogden Medical Center to Primary Children’s Medical Center.

During exploratory surgery there, doctors discovered the perforation was large and mended it. Then the Wilsons waited a week at the hospital before returning home.

As they worked with gastrointestinal specialists, the Wilsons learned that Bella’s vagus nerve was damaged during the tonsillectomy, which disrupted her digestive system.

The specialists gave Bella a radioactive scrambled egg to eat and placed a regular X-ray over her stomach for a couple of hours to monitor the length of time the egg took to pass from her stomach to her intestines. Based on the calculations shown from the X-ray, the egg would take more than 15 hours to pass, when it would normally take 20 minutes.

“Essentially, her stomach muscles just don’t work,” Natasha Wilson said. “She is in chronic pain and is on a very restricted diet of mostly liquids, carbs and sugars.”

Currently, 7-year-old Bella spends a lot of her time in and out of the hospital, and recently got accepted for additional testing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

More recently, a second Wilson daughter experienced health problems.

In October, 17-year-old Natalia Wilson was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and was forced to spend nearly a month lying down in a dark room while listening to classical music. She was on the cheerleading squad at Weber High School.

Natalia’s chronic headaches and fatigue have kept her home from school since then, but the school district has provided a tutor to assist her with classes.

As a student with a 4.0 GPA and a cheerleader, it’s been very difficult for Natalia to stay home from school for the past six months. Recently, however, she was permitted to attend two of the four class periods each day.

Then on March 7, medical issues in the Wilson home went from bad to worse.

Fifteen-year-old Darbi Wilson suddenly had a severe seizure while relaxing on the couch that evening, and she stopped breathing for a few minutes.

Natasha Wilson called the ambulance and was able to get Darbi breathing again.

When the ambulance arrived, Darbi was taken to Primary Children’s Medical Center, where the family learned she had epilepsy.

Doctors prescribed her a seizure medication, but Darbi had an allergic reaction.

In the past month, Darbi hasn’t had any more seizures as major as the one that started it all, but she still experiences mini-seizures.

Witnessing Darbi’s seizure particularly traumatized 9-year-old Brock, the lone brother in the Wilson family.

“Brock has been waking up with nightmares ever since he saw Darbi have the seizure,” Natasha Wilson said. “He’s very shaken emotionally and keeps asking me, ‘Mommy, what is going to happen to me?’”

Although the Wilsons are facing many trials, they never cease to rely on their faith for comfort, they said.

Rob Rock and Natasha Wilson have continually taught their children not to be angry with God but to have faith in him.

Natasha teaches her daughters it’s OK to have a good cry and acknowledge their feelings since they are going through something really hard, but that they also have to pull themselves together and keep going.

“Our trials are very public, but so many people have struggles that nobody will ever know about,” Natasha Wilson said. “You can be sitting by somebody at school and not even know that they are going through a tough personal struggle.”

All three of the Wilson daughters have shown great faith in their trials, according to their mother.

Darbi inspired Natasha when they took a trip to St. George and were getting ready to go swimming. It’s imperative to keep a close watch on someone who has epilepsy when in the water, so Natasha was telling Rob to keep his eyes on her the whole time.

Darbi turned to her mother and asked if she would be worried if she were to die.

Natasha said that of course she would be worried, to which Darbi replied, “Mom, don’t be sad if I die; you’ve always taught me I’ll be in a better place. I’m OK.”

“She said it with the pure faith of a child; it was so calm and sweet,” Natasha said.

Natalia has also shown great faith as she diligently studies her scriptures and attends seminary, which is the first school class she asked to return to.

While meeting with a neuropsychologist, Natasha was asked when she had seen Natalia the most excited in the past year.

Immediately she responded, “It was the day they lowered the age for girls to go on missions to 19. She was so excited and emotional all day, and now she says she will get 100 percent better so she could serve the Lord.”

Even little Bella has shown an attitude that exceeds that of most people in her condition, Natasha said.

“Bella says to me, ‘Mom, my stomach hurts every day, but that’s OK because there is a lot of living to do. I want to live and I want to play.’”

The Wilsons have been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received from the community. From strangers praying for them to neighbors bringing over cards and treats, Natasha said she has never felt more humbled.

On April 20, family members and friends will host a 5k run for the Wilsons, specifically Bella.

Family members had been mentioning the idea to Natasha even before Natalia’s concussion and Darbi’s seizure, but she didn’t give her consent until recently.

“It’s so incredibly humbling to be the person not bringing dinners in to people,” Natasha said. “You never look at the fundraisers people do and think ‘someday that could be me.’”

For more information about Bella’s Fun Run, visit their blog.

Megan Marsden is an intern with the Deseret News writing for the Faith & Family section. She is currently a junior at BYU-Idaho studying communication.