Boy's deathbed battle: Keysha kept 'praying'
'HE'S a very sick little boy.'
They're six words no parent ever wants to hear, but for Tasha Millar, the moment they were spoken is seared in her memory.
Miss Millar's son Jaymon Gaul was a regular 10-year-old with a love of music and rapping, until he was struck by the flu, staph, sepsis and so many complications Miss Millar couldn't even keep up as doctors listed them.
But after five months of treatment at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane, Jaymon and his mum have finally returned home to Chinchilla, and are ready to share their story.
Miss Millar said Jaymon's health troubles began when he visited his dad during the September school holidays.
He had a bit of a cough and was taken to hospital on Tuesday, September 19 after being knocked over by a dog, but was sent home without any concerns.
By the Friday, he was complaining of a sore leg and his mum gave him some Panadol and Nurofen.
"I wasn't too concerned because he was at the hospital on Tuesday getting checked," Miss Millar said.
But by Saturday, no longer able to take painkillers, Jaymon couldn't stay awake and the ambulance was called.
"He was just here in my arms... he was losing consciousness and he wasn't making sense," Miss Millar said.
He was taken to Chinchilla Hospital, and by Sunday morning, Jaymon was in the ICU at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane.
"We got there and straight away they said to me 'he's a very sick little boy'," Miss Millar said.
The following day she learned what was wrong with her son, and the list was so extensive she couldn't keep up.
"I remember trying to type them in my phone and keep up and I couldn't, it was like influenza A and B, sepsis, staph, kidney failure, pneumonia, osteomyelitis, bacteremia...
"They do stick in your head, those names."
By Wednesday, Miss Millar said Jaymon was on full ECMO life support and dialysis for his failing kidneys, with a 59per cent chance he wouldn't walk out.
She said she was with her son constantly, playing the Kesha song 'Praying' over and over by his bedside.
"That was my last memory of hearing his voice... (the) Saturday morning here talking about Kesha's song," she said.
And when Jaymon finally did wake, though he couldn't remember most of his ordeal, there was one thing he did recall.
"I remember when he first woke up... he reckons he heard things when he was on life support, like he goes 'I know you played me that Kesha song 'Praying' all the time mum', and I did," she said.
But there was a long way for Jaymon to go, and at first his mum said he didn't even think he was still alive.
"When he woke up and he was coming too… he kept saying 'we were in a plane crash, we're dead mum' and I'm like 'no mate, we're alive'," she said.
"He was like 'no, no we were in a plane crash' and it took a lot of reassurance to make him believe that we were both alive."
Even though Jaymon had finally woken up, he would still be in hospital for weeks, and Miss Millar has been through a parent's nightmare.
"He's had 13 surgeries, his ECMO wound went wrong... but once that tube's in it's not like they can turn the life support off and start again," Miss Millar said.
Among the other complications, having been on so many drugs Jaymon also suffered delirium from the withdrawals.
"That was pretty scary," Miss Millar said, though, looking back, she said there was one thing amusing about it.
"He just kept going on about Donald Trump, it's like 'how's he even thinking of Donald Trump? He doesn't even know where he is!'," she laughed, but quickly became thoughtful again.
"But delirium's a very nasty thing, delirium and drug withdrawals, especially with a 10-year-old."
After his first stint in the ICU, Jaymon was transferred to a ward, much to Miss Millar's discomfort.
Her fears were proven true when, two days later, he was rushed back to the ICU with complications from overworked kidneys and high blood pressure.
Doctors found fluid in his brain, and by Christmas Jaymon was also struck with a lung infection, after already having lung damage from his other conditions.
The good tissue in his left lung is now perhaps the size of a golf ball.
Thankfully, Jaymon started to improve, and was able to celebrate his 11th birthday with his mum.
Now back at home, Jaymon still has a long road to recovery, and has chronic lung disease and may need a kidney transplant in the future.
"It's all just going to be a couple of years of follow ups and medical tests and keeping an eye on the kidney function, because his kidneys don't work like normal any more," Miss Millar said.
"It's a waiting game... and the amount of surgery he's had and the scars on him... they've gone wrong, too."
Jaymon is also on crutches after the hamstring of his uninjured leg seized up from spending so many weeks in bed, in addition to nerve damage from an operation.
The main concern for Miss Millar now is the time of year, as we come into flu season.
"I was told pretty much I should have a bag at home ready in case he ever does get sick again," she said.
"That's the scary part, because his body's already taken such a flogging, one little thing can make him that ill again."
But despite all the trials, struggles, and fears, Miss Millar is able to see a silver lining to Jaymon's ordeal.
"Jaymon's always been the little boy that can't, 'I can't get my towel, I can't turn on the shower on, I can't'," she said, but "the little boy that says he can't, can."
"They told me a lot he won't be the same little boy, and I have to agree with the doctors, he's actually more confident and stronger, he's pushing himself more than I thought.
"I think he's realised how strong and a fighter he is, and he's actually pushing himself now.
"Definitely more confident, like never before would he sing in front of people and, he's a good little songwriter.
"He's made me really, really proud."
For Miss Millar, the return home has been strange after so long away, especially since Jaymon's rehabilitation is still ongoing.
It's not hard to understand, after she spent months sharing a room, watching over him day after day.
One particularly hard part of the ordeal was also leaving her daughter in Chinchilla.
Miss Millar said she wanted to thank the community, especially Lee Dallmann from the Western Downs Community Church and the Chinchilla State School, for their ongoing support. "They're working so hard to make sure he's comfortable at school," she said.
For Jaymon, it's nice to see his sister Rhea, and Sam, the family's border collie again, and "awesome" to see his friends and return to school, even if just for two hours, three days a week.
"Just being home in general" was his highlight.
To donate to help the family cope with Jaymon's ongoing medical costs, you can visit https://www.gofundme.com/help-get-lil-man-jaymon-home