When pregnant with her first son in 2015, Danika Jakab began to experience a myriad of physically challenging symptoms: dizziness, weakness, nausea, fatigue, migraine headaches, seeing spots, and fainting from lightheadedness.
Jakab received a medical diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition caused by poor blood circulation to the heart and a lack of oxygen to the brain. Although rare, POTS most often afflicts young women who are pregnant. Once the child is born, the disease typically goes away. In Jakab’s case, after giving birth to Levi, she still struggled.
In fact, Jakab’s symptoms grew more frequent and worsened in intensity as she gave birth to two more sons, Canaan in 2018, and Blade last year. She visited a cardiologist, neurologist, and ophthalmologist in an effort to find relief. The specialists explained there is no cure for POTS, but they encouraged her to make lifestyle changes: increasing salt in her diet in an attempt to improve blood circulation; starting on a pair of prescription medications; exercising; and getting enough rest.
Monitoring what she ate did nothing to help. One of the drugs made her feel worse. Even light exercise led her to believe she might faint. Rest with three preschool-aged boys in the home proved difficult, although a wonderful support system of friends and relatives, including husband Dustin, kept the family buoyed.
“I couldn’t take care of myself some days, let alone my kids,” says Jakab, 33. “Sometimes I could only lie on the couch. The hardest part was feeling like I wasn’t doing the job of raising my little boys.”
Danika and Dustin met 19 years ago in youth group at Lake Wylie Christian, an Assemblies of God church in South Carolina where her father, Billy G. Ginn, served as youth pastor. Now, Ginn is associate pastor at the church, which has an average Sunday morning attendance of 440. Dustin, after a couple of stints as youth pastor elsewhere, is children’s pastor at Lake Wylie Christian. The couple married in 2009.
Dustin and Danika dated in 2006 during high school in Lake Wylie, a growing suburb of Charlotte, just over the North Carolina state line. Danika had a couple of blackout episodes back then, which she chalked up to overexertion on the school’s girls’ basketball team. Isolated fainting spells continued in early adulthood.
By the time of her pregnancy with Blade, Danika almost never left the family home. Driving a vehicle proved too dangerous, in case her blood pressure dipped and she passed out. And with the onset of COVID-19, doctors didn’t want her out in public because of her compromised immune system. An “eye stroke” had caused a permanent blind spot in her left eye during her third pregnancy. She received a diagnosis of ischemic optic neuropathy: a pinched optic nerve that would never heal.
Danika’s low points could last a few minutes, several hours, or even consecutive days. In such times, Dustin had to help her out of bed to walk to the bathroom. The isolation related to coronavirus restrictions also complicated matters.
“Not being around other people hurt me mentally and spiritually, and also affected me physically,” Danika remembers. “With POTS, for the first time in my life, I went through depression.”
In May this year, Lake Wylie Christian scheduled weekend services with healing evangelist Jeff Taylor. Although Danika hadn’t been to an in-person church service for more than a year, Dustin encouraged her to attend the Sunday evening gathering, promoted as a healing service.
Although she watched the livestreamed morning service featuring Taylor as guest speaker, Danika still expressed hesitancy about attending that night. Physically, she was having a rough day.
“I’m particular about people praying over me when I don’t know them,” Danika admits.
Dustin, 36, persisted.
“What harm is it going to do if you go?” Dustin asked her. He pointed out God can speak to His followers through unorthodox means, such as Balaam’s donkey (Numbers 22:21-39).
So Danika spent the afternoon in prayer with an expectant heart. The couple went to church early so they could converse with Taylor, which put Danika more at ease.
The fact that Taylor preached on the story in Luke 8:43-48 that had become special to Danika during her struggle with POTS — the woman who suffered from hemorrhages for years without physicians being able to cure her — further raised her hopes.
“During the service, I kept hearing God say, Be open; I’m going to heal you,” Danika says.
Toward the end of the service, Taylor called Danika out by name to come forward. As Taylor placed his hand on her head and began praying, Danika says she sensed God removing the foggy feeling she often had in her brain.
“I felt a cooling sensation spread from the top of my head down through my body,” she says. “I could feel the oxygen flowing better through me. I felt God telling me, It’s done.”
Taylor instructed Danika to begin to walk laps around the large sanctuary as he turned his attention to other adherents. Normally even once around the perimeter would have exhausted her. But Danika became stronger the more steps she took. She made it around the church 10 times before Taylor asked her to testify about what had happened. She told of her newfound energy, an ability to think clearly again, and the disappearance of the spots before her eye.
The next morning, Danika says she awoke with a slight headache and a message from the enemy: What if it all had just been a fluke?
Danika says she then heard the Holy Spirit speak again: It is finished.
For the first time ever, she drove Levi to school, praising and worshipping along the route. Although not much of a social media person, she posted details about her healing on Snapchat. Her headache disappeared.
Although the temperature hovered near 90 degrees, she took Canaan and Blade to a park and, in another first, frolicked with them on playground equipment.
“I’m so excited to get my life back,” Danika says. “Now I’m able to do things with my family.”