Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Prayer by Henri Nouwen

Someone sent this to Rusty and Lynette, and seeing as Henri Nouwen is one of my all time favorites.... I just had to share it here too. Merry Christmas friends. May you find joy this season in His presence.

Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness
send your Holy Spirit upon us this season.

We who have much to do
seek quiet spaces to hear
Your voice each day.

We who are anxious over many things
look forward to Your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways
long for the complete joy of Your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy
seek the joy of Your presence.

We are your people
walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To You we say, Come Lord Jesus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

a different Christmas

We're doing Christmas a little differently around the Davis house this year. We have purchased three modest gifts. Only three. And they aren't for anyone that lives in the Davis house. You'd think our tree would look awfully bare, with no shiny, fancy packages under it. A little useless, right? Empty stockings? Was someone bad in the Davis house? No, we're just doing it all differently this time around.

Did you know that Americans spend an estimated $474.5 BILLION on Christmas each year? And that the average American will spend $935 on Christmas this year? Here's a breakdown that will (should) turn your stomach. The average American will spend, this year:
  • $550 on gifts for family & friends (that's just ONE american!)
  • $120 on themselves (HAVE to have that new Christmas outfit!)
  • $70 on co-workers and miscellaneous others
  • $41.50 on a Christmas tree
  • $32.48 on Christmas cards & postage
  • $22.61 on flowers
  • $95.04 on food & candy
  • $51.43 on decorations
  • $960.50 on holiday travel for those who don't live near family
Jason and I decided to change up our Christmas many weeks ago. We've had many conversations about spending less to be able to give more. Giving to individuals who we know that are in need, yes, but also giving relationally, to one another, and to certain people in our lives. You see, the very first Christmas was a moment that broke the silence of 400 years... God's people had not heard him speak for ages. They were living in darkness. They were in need of a voice. They were in need of hope. And then, from Bethlehem, a baby cried out into the darkness. God was with them. When they needed a savior most, on their worst day, on their darkest night, God came, broke the silence, met their need, and dwelled among them.

We know families, not only in this community, but all across the world, who are living in silence this Christmas. They have had their worst day, and it replays each day after. They are living in darkness, and it is time for their silence to be broken.

Christmas was meant, from the very beginning, to be voice in the darkness, and an experience that makes us more like Christ. May yours be just that. It's more than enough.

Merry Christmas,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

life keeps moving on...

Things are continuing to progress with Olive. You can check out the latest update over at Lynette & Rusty's blog:

Little Olive is a fighter! Let's keep fighting with her in prayer.

Olive Updates...

More updates from Lynette over the last week on little Olive...

Get us out of here!
Rough and frustrating day.

This morning after we arrived to the hospital we were told we needed to leave the NICU while the neurosurgeon tapped Olive's head. Midway through the procedure the neonatologist came out to tell us that the neurosurgeon had changed his mind and decided to put in a temporary drain that would stay in for seven days. She told us the procedure was almost finished, and we started asking many questions. For one, WHY was he doing a different procedure than he had discussed with us yesterday without talking to us first? Especially because we had talked with him yesterday about our concerns with placing a temporary drain when Olive still has lingering signs of her infection (her WBC count and protein aren't yet back to normal since her meningitis). We were told by a neonatologist we trust from the States that this is not an ideal procedure given her current labs.

After he finished the procedure he came and talked to us. He said that the research shows the same rate of infection between intermittent tapping and a temporary drain...not what we have heard from other sources.

Throughout the day Olive's oxygen level wasn't as well as normal so they decided to increase her oxygen. She also had an increased heart rate with no signs of infection so they thought she was having pain from the procedure...things that didn't happen with the drain the last three times.

The doctors and nurses told me they would like to keep her in the incubator for the afternoon so that she could rest. I was feeling pretty frustrated as to why she couldn't rest in my arms so I asked the head doctor again and she said it would be ok to hold her. After holding her her oxygen saturation went up on its own and we could take her off of the oxygen they were giving her.

They had put tape all over her head to keep this drain in place and some of it was coming off and I could see the catheter from the drain was starting to come out. The neurosurgeon had tried to secure it with the nipple off a bottle and that was filled with moisture from Olive sweating. Warm and moist...a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. great.

So I showed the doctor that the catheter was coming out and pointed out the moisture. All the residents came over to look (7 of them) and after calling the neurosurgeon they decided to remove the drain later tonight to prevent infection. They decided to take out an additional 20 ml before removing it. In the morning they had only removed 5 ml...which I am still confused at why they would remove such a little amount.

The resident came to remove the drain, and Olive screamed through the whole thing as her hair was being pulled out by the crazy amount of tape they had put on her head. After the resident started draining the fluid, we noticed the tape on her head getting wet...not a good sign. By the time everything was finished and we were cleaning up the tech came to test the CSF fluid and pointed out that there were 53 ml of fluid in the container. That means that instead of draining the 20 ml of fluid as planned, somehow she didn't notice it continuing to drain and she ended up draining about 48 ml of fluid in a two minute period.

Earlier today they told me the max they can drain is 10 ml/kg every four hours. That would mean 17 ml of fluid every four hours. Clearly you can see this wasn't ideal. The doctor tried to play it cool and I was nervously looking at Olive. Her fontanel was EXTREMELY sunk in after everything was over. The resident then told the neonatologist what had happened and the neurosurgeon. They said the biggest things they worry about it dehydration, low blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalances. I have also been told before that they cannot remove the fluid too quickly or it can have serious implications on the brain.

I didn't want to put Olive back in her isolette tonight. The doctors went home and lots of new residents came on shift...who are usually confused and learning things for the first time. The nurses that were on tonight were also not the best ones of the group. Both things leaving me nervous.

Then one of the younger nurses came over and said in Thai, "Mother, you can hold her for ten more minutes and then you need to go home so that we nurses can work." So the nurses can work? Am I really bothering you that much by sitting here and holding Olive as she sleeps in my arms? Ten minutes later she returned to give me a lecture about visiting Olive too much and getting in the nurses way. I told her that I didn't understand, because the head nurse gave us the ok to visit her anytime we wanted. I said that it didn't seem to bother anyone but her. She said it would be better if we came less like the other parents and that our daughter's situation is better than the other babies in the room.

I wanted to tell her that I didn't want to be here. That Olive was supposed to go back to the States last week, but she got meningitis from her drain and couldn't leave. I wanted to tell her that in the NICU in America that the parents can visit anytime and research proves the benefits of it.

Let's just say that by the end of our conversation I was in tears and walking home. It took everything in me not to tell her what I really thought of her. Probably for the best.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring...but I am praying lots of prayers that Olive will be o.k. tonight despite the circumstances of today.

another day...
Olive did well overnight last night. Today after arriving at the hospital the head nurse asked us to talk to her in her office. She said she that last night she heard about last night's incidence with the nurse being rude and wanted to apologize. Apparently this isn't the first time this nurse has been aggressive with parents in the NICU, as well as other nurses on staff. She told me that she communicated with all the nurses that we are able to visit from 8 am to 8 pm, and that the nurse will be written up for her impolite behavior.

Around noon our doctor from the private hospital came to visit along with the two nurses who were going to travel back to the States with us last week. They asked how things were going and when they found out about all of the issues we have had with trying to remove fluid from Olive's head they were unpleasantly surprised. They suggested we talk directly with the head neurosurgeon about these issues.

We originally moved Olive to this hospital because the doctors at the private hospital spoke very highly of the neurosurgeon here. However, he has been either out of the country for the last month or too busy to be involved in Olive's case and sends his team instead of coming himself. We are not willing for Olive to continue to be an experiment for the residents to learn on, especially with procedures that will may affect her brain and long-term outcome. Since arriving here we have had her first drain cause meningitis, two poorly done lumbar punctures where only 6 ml of fluid was removed, and another poorly placed drain with major mistakes made when removing it. Something MUST change if we are going to stay here.

All this to say, tomorrow we have a meeting set up with the head neurosurgeon to talk about what the plan will be to continue removing fluid from Olive's head, and to request him to be the one to do these procedures rather than passing them off to his students. If this meeting doesn't go well, we will consider moving her back to a private hospital, even though the cost is 10 times greater.

This evening after visiting hours ended, we went with one of the NICU nurses to see Christmas lights downtown Bangkok in celebration of the king of Thailand. We had a really nice evening out together.

Sleep is beckoning me...

Hoping for a change.
Yesterday we met with the neurosurgeon and his team. We shared all of our frustrations with Olives' care so far, and our concern with her remaining here without a better plan in place.

Before leaving after the meeting he tapped Olive's head and removed 20 ml of fluid.

Apparently our neonatologist had training in the States before, and she has agreed to do tapping every two days to remove fluid. This seems to be a good option, better than having residents without much experience doing it, or waiting for the neurosurgeons to come who are extremely busy.

Tomorrow the neonatologist is going to do another tap. Rusty and I have agreed to give this hospital another 3-4 days and see how things go after having our meeting with the neurosurgeon and see if things improve. They are saying that if the protein continues to decrease in her CSF (cerebral spinal fluid), and she reaches 2 kg (4.4 lbs) then they would go ahead with the VP shunt surgery.

If after a few days we are still not feeling comfortable with the care we will most likely move her back to the private hospital.

over and out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Olive and the teddy graham

Sorry for the delay in updates on Olive... This little teddy graham has kept me pretty knocked out lately.

Here are updates on Olive from Lynette over the last few days:

No more infection!
Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 10:50am
Olive had another lumbar puncture today and the results were very good. No more bacteria found in the sample, and the white blood cell count, protein, and sugar were all back to normal. She has been much more active and breathing on room air again without the help of any machines, so we are feeling very encouraged about this.

Rusty spent the morning holding her, and at lunch we swapped and I spent the afternoon holding her. Tonight after I put her back in her isolette she was crying, irritated and flinging her limbs in all directions. I took her back out and thought maybe she needed to be burped, but that didn't seem to help all too much. She probably cried for a good 15 minutes without calming down. Then I noticed her trying to shove her hand in her mouth, so I stuck my finger in her mouth and she started sucking away. We gave her a pacifier and she was suddenly comforted and fell asleep. This is the first day she has had a strong sucking reflex, so we are excited. We may be able to start trying to breast feed later in the week if she continues to stay strong and breath well on her own.

CT Scan
Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 7:23am

Today Olive's neurosurgeon came to look at her recent CT Scan (done yesterday) and explain the results to us. Her brain tissue continues to expand (!!!), and the clot from the previous hemorrhage continues to liquify. We are excited for every good news we get about her brain tissue continuing to expand, even if it is little by little. Olive also still has communicating hydrocephalus which means they can continue doing lumbar punctures every few days to relieve the pressure in her head.

As far as the results of her lumbar puncture, the CSF fluid contains no more bacteria or organisms so that is good news. The glucose level in her CSF fluid is also back to baseline. However, her protein and WBC count are still not back at the normal level. He said that this increase in protein causes her CSF fluid to be more viscous, which is why we need to wait to put in the VP shunt. If we did it now, the increased protein level could cause the shunt to clot and not work properly.

SOOOOO...the neurosurgeon is saying that we will wait on the WBC count to level out as well as the protein. Once those two lab values are in place we will consider putting in the VP shunt...maybe in another two weeks or so. And hoping that her weight is closer to 2 kg (4.4 lbs) by then.

If an opportunity to return to the States would arise before the surgery we would jump on it. Otherwise we will plan on being here for the surgery and recovery.

Last night I tried breast-feeding Olive with the help of the nurses and she was starting to get the hang of it. However, this morning when the neonatologist found out he wasn't too impressed. He says that it is very important for us to know her intake and output at this point, and he would like to wait on that. there was no more of that.

Today I was looking at photos of Olive in her first days of life and couldn't believe how much she has changed in two months. She has been through so much in her short little life, especially to think that my due date isn't even until December 15th. We are so grateful for each day we've had with her and for the days ahead.

Olive - 2 days old

Olive - 2 months old

Livin it up in Bangkok
Mon at 9:05am

Olive had another lumbar puncture done today, and only 6 ml was removed because she was being squirmy and the resident couldn't keep the needle in. She only had 6 ml removed a few days ago too. From what I hear from the States, normally you release around 15 ml or above at a time, so I'm hoping they know what they are doing by releasing such a small amount.


Her protein level and WBC count in her CSF decreased more today (this is good news). Tonight she is getting a blood transfusion of packed red blood cells cause she was a little anemic. She was sucking away on her little pacifier when I left her tonight.

Rusty left for Chiang Rai this morning and will be there until Wednesday night taking care of some business with the sponsorship program and visiting friends.

So, I figure now that I'm all alone in Bangkok its time to live it up!

"Living it up" will most likely consist of visiting Olive at the hospital everyday, going out for a cappuccino with whip cream, and if I'm feeling real wild and crazy I might even start writing thank-you notes.

the word on the street.
Tuesday at 10:13am

I spent the day at the hospital with Olive today. Today she was pretty drowsy and not acting much like herself. This evening her oxygen saturation was on the low side of being o.k. so the residents decided to do another lumbar puncture. I was feeling anxious about having another resident do the procedure since the last two times they didn't do the best job and only removed 6 ml of CSF fluid.

I'm trying to find the balance of protecting Olive from being a resident's case to practice on, and being a patient's mother who isn't super annoying. I realize I am at a teaching hospital, but I am not a fan of Olive being someone's case to practice on...(insert nervous sigh here).

Olive cried through the whole thing. They removed 15 cc of fluid this time. After the procedure she seemed more like herself and spent a good 20 minutes alert and flinging her little limbs around. I held her for another hour before walking back to the apartment.

Tomorrow the neurosurgeons are planning on placing another temporary ventricular drain to remove more fluid.

The head neonatologist said it would be o.k. for me to begin trying to breast-feed Olive tomorrow, so I'm hoping things go o.k.

Rusty was able to be home for the rice harvesting at the AYDC in Chiang Rai today. All the parents of the kids came to participate so he was able to connect with a lot of them and share in eating some dog for lunch. : >)

The weather in the north is much colder than here in Bangkok. He is sleeping in a sleeping bag and comforter in Chiang Rai, and I am sweating down here in Bangkok as I listen to Christmas music.

Still no word on another flight being available to go back to the States anytime soon.



P.S. We have five breast pumps donated for the NICU in Chiang Rai, so we are set!

The little champ.
Today at 10:56am

Had a really good day with Olive today. This morning the opthamologist came and looked at her again and said he is still very pleased with the results and doesn't think she will be needing any further treatment. They will keep doing weekly checks to make sure things continue to stay on track with her vision.

This afternoon we started breast-feeding. Olive latched on like a little champ, and once she was on her eyes got huge and she looked really excited and unsure what to do about the milk coming out into her mouth. I was laughing at her little expression and trying not to scare her with my shaking. Her vitals stayed good, and she had no issues with her oxygen level dropping so the neonatologist gave us the go ahead to continue trying a little each day.

Today I also met with both the neurologist and neurosurgeon. Starting tomorrow morning they will do daily tapping to remove fluid from her head. From what I understand they just use a syringe and will remove between 10-30 ml of fluid each time.

Rusty will return tonight from Chiang Rai. He had a really good time connecting with friends there.



Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It’s rather typical to list off all of the things that we are grateful for at this time of year. But this time around, I am grateful for more, and in a deeper way, than I could have ever imagined at this time a year ago.

I am unwaveringly grateful for the incredible journey that the last year has taken me on. Coming out on the other side, it’s easier to say so; there were moments of great sorrow, deep disappointment, and bitter tears that I thought at times would never stop flowing. And nonetheless, there were moments of hope and joy, and the dawning of new friendships that would renew a part of my faith that had forgotten that God truly does care about the little things. And when the weight was too heavy to bear, there was my husband. My precious, God-seeking, devoted partner, softly speaking truth and hope. I couldn’t imagine a better companion on the dusty trails of this life.

This year has taught me to never be led by just my heart, but to be led by Truth confirmed in my heart. With the ups and downs of life, my heart keeps up pace, bouncing up and down in the tidal wave of emotion. But Truth does not change. This year I was reminded that the goodness of God is pursuing me, and no matter how long and exhausting the journey has seemed, God has been waiting to be good to me (Isaiah 30:18, the Message).

Less than three months ago, I was introduced to Evelyn. She was just three days old when I met her. Any newborn has the power to melt my heart, but Evelyn is something special. Evelyn’s life catapulted my faith in God in a way I didn’t even realize until the day I first held her in my arms. You see, Evelyn’s mommy was given the same diagnosis that I had been given during this past year… It involved a mass growing on the brain, and even with proper treatment, one of the many common side-effects was infertility. And yet, on a sparkling late-summer afternoon, there in my arms lay baby Evelyn. The fruit of God’s faithfulness.

In recent months, I stumbled upon another young and miraculous life, swadled in the arms of an old friend and sister in Christ. Her name is Olive Hope. For the last two months my husband and I have prayed for Olive and her parents thousands of miles away, as they bear the weight of the world on their shoulders and watch their little one fight for life on a daily basis. As the world joins with us in prayer, we have seen miracle after miracle, and yet the journey is far from over. Olive has reminded me again that God is faithful, and that God sees a picture that is much larger than the canvas of our own lives. She reminds me that ultimately, God will be glorified, and that alone is reason enough to be grateful for life, in any form or condition.

And here, in the midst of these very miracles, tangled up in prayers for Evelyn and Olive Hope, a new life was created… and this time, against all odds, the life was created and formed within ME.

"For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of Him." 1 Samuel 1:27

Your love Lord, truly does reach to the heavens. Your faithfulness leaps beyond the horizon and into the forgotten corners of my heart. You have pierced my heart with your goodness this year, and to you alone be the glory.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations."
Psalm 100:4-5

Monday, November 23, 2009

Negative Nancy.

From Lynette
Another day of ups and downs. Woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach having no clue what the doctors decision would be if we would be able to make our flight tomorrow or not. This morning after arriving we learned that she had a stable night and has been stable throughout the morning.

The opthamologist came and said he was happy with the results of her laser surgery and will come back to look at her eyes again in five days from now if we can't return to the States.

Around 9:00 a.m. they did a lumbar puncture to remove 10 ml of CSF fluid to help relieve some of her intracranial pressure and also to evaluate how well she is responding to her antibiotics. The team of one doctor and two nurses who would be traveling to the States with us came to look at her around noon and told us based on her vital signs that they think everything is a go. They said they just needed to evaluate the results of the CSF fluid. So, about one hour later they returned with the results with a concerned look on their faces. Apparently the glucose level was very low, and protein was higher than it should be. They didn't think she was fit to fly. They said they would consult with the infectious disease specialists to get a final opinion.

The team of infectious disease specialists said they were concerned about us not having a ventilator onboard the aircraft in the case of Olive having continued apnea. They also worry that if the meningitis continues to progress that she will start having more frequent seizures. They told us that meningitis can cause deafness, severe developmental problems, as well as seizure issues in SOME cases. Not very comforting news to hear.

So...all of the doctors involved in Olive's case are telling us she cannot fly. We had our hopes up so high to have Olive at such a great hospital, and to be near family and friends as we continue walking through this journey.

So here we are...lots of tears today, anger, and disappointment.

Today I'm feeling angry at God, and wondering why there continues to be more and more bad news. I can see lots of ugly places in myself too in all of this. I want to be grateful for the good things He is the positive report on Olive's eyes, and the simple fact that we are included in the small percentage of people in this world to have access to this level of healthcare.

I do miss my close friends that could just sit down beside me and grumble with me.

love to all of you...


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Meningitis, I hate your guts.

From Lynette
Today had lots to tears to accompany it. The organism that they found in Olive's CSF fluid is Staphylococcus Aureus...which means she has meningitis. This was the first news we heard upon arriving at the hospital this morning.

Throughout the day Olive has had episodes of Apnea where she stops breathing and her heart rate drops. With the help of a little oxygen and patting her on the back, scratching the bottom or her feet, or rubbing her little cheeks her numbers eventually climb back up. The doctors are contributing this to her infection and say that hopefully by tomorrow night or Tuesday morning the clinical signs will start getting better once she has a few days of antibiotics in her system.

The problem with all of this is that we need her to be stable to take her on the flight planned for Tuesday morning at 11:00 am. Everything is set up and in place...except for Olive's current health status.

Tomorrow morning the doctor who would be traveling with Olive if we go to the States, is coming to the hospital to take a look at her and her labs to decide if she is fit to fly or not. They will be doing a lumbar puncture on Olive in the morning to assess the level of her current infection and also to remove 5 ml of CSF to help decrease her intracranial pressure. According to one neonatologist we have been talking with in the States, if they are able to control her infection by Tuesday and her vital signs stabilize she should be able to still make this flight.

Another issue that we haven't yet been able to discuss with her neurosurgeon (because he has been in Japan for the last week) is how they are going to go about reducing her intracranial pressure now that she has an infection...(insert a deep tired sigh here).

We are crawling into bed tonight feeling emotionally drained and down in the dumps. I'm not sure what you should be praying for at this point...maybe for the antibiotics to destroy all of the bacteria in her system so that her clinical symptoms improve by tomorrow? Or maybe pray that if this doesn't happen we will have the strength to embrace the next step if that means we need to stay here longer.



Saturday, November 21, 2009

Auction for Olive - Bidding Starts Tomorrow!!!

With thousands following the journey God is taking Rusty, Lynette and Olive on, many of us are continually thinking about them and praying for them. Also, many have given generously to the Olive Hope Care Fund that has been set up. As medical bills continue to add up, two wonderful mom's have created another way to increase the finances in that fund. During the next week, people from around the world have been invited to participate in the Auction for Olive. There are a couple ways you can participate.

1.) Auction off something, ANYTHING! Here are the basics:
  • If you want to donate an item please email Becky at or Cindy at with a complete description of the item you are donating, and a picture if possible. If you have a blog with the item on it send us your web address along with the description.
  • An example of an item could be "Olive's Grandma Co will lovingly make you a plateful of her delicious chocolate chip cookies once a month for a year. Living in Lynden will make delivery easier but I'm sure other arrangements could be made"
  • All items will be auctioned off via the website linked above
  • Shipping costs of donated items are the responsibility of the donor.
  • Once the auction ends and item is paid for we will connect the donor with the buyer.
  • Bidding will begin Sunday, November 22 at 9:00 p.m. PST and end on Saturday, November 28 at 9:00 p.m. PST
2.) Bid on items during the auction. For the auction to be successful, there must be bidders! As the holidays are coming closer and we think about Christmas shopping, this would be a great way to get your shopping done and support Rusty and Lynette.

3.) Do both!!

Pages of great items are already listed for the auction! Take a look today & begin bidding tomorrow!

A dirty little organism.

From Lynette
Yesterday the doctors were pleased with how Olive's laser eye surgery went. After being on anesthesia she was throwing up so she had to be NPO (have nothing by mouth) for the day. Today they have her back on feedings, but she still needs to be on an IV again.

This morning we arrived to the hospital to learn that the doctors were getting ready to test her CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) for any organisms to assess for infection (a common complication of the drain in her head). The test came back as positive for bacteria so they had to remove the drain immediatly and start her on two different IV antibiotics. We were hoping she would be free from infection and that the drain would be able to stay in until the day we left for the States, so now we are unsure exactly how they will handle this.

Now that she is getting IV antibiotics she needs an IV in all the time. Olive has the smallest most fragile veins, so getting an IV in her is VERY difficult. Tonight the nurses tried about 6 times unsuccessfully. We held her and sang to her for while before handing her back to them and heading home. I'm hoping by now they have an IV in her.

Tomorrow the opthamologist will come to assess her eyes again which I'm not looking forward to. They put these little metal clips on her eyelids to pull them back for he examination and it looks so uncomfortable. She crys every time they do this...poor little thing.

At this point they are saying she should still be able to go home on the 24th despite the current complications. Rusty has been busy on the phone with the nurses and doctor who will be accompanying us, those helping with the flight back to the States, and with insurance. We are so thankful to those of you who have given to the Olive Hope Care Fund. It has made it possible for us to pay for the doctor and nurses accompanying us to the States as well as their plane tickets back to Thailand.

We have heard so many good things about the DeVos children's hospital in Grand Rapids and are anxious to get her there sooner than later. At the hospital we are currently at, we rarely see an attending doctor...I think we've seen one twice since arriving 1.5 weeks ago. Otherwise its all residents making the decisions. I think they are very good at what they do, but I would feel much more comfortable if I got to see an attending at least once a day.

The last two days have been rough emotionally for both of us and we are feeling pretty drained. We wish so badly life could be easier for Olive. She is a little fighter, but she's also a weak little thing who I wish could just be cuddled like a normal little baby without dealing with all the daily procedures that make her so uncomfortable.

Life these days continues to be unpredictable. Trying to look for things to be thankful for each day and not be swallowed up by the things that seem overwhelming and out of our control.

Much love,


Friday, November 20, 2009

From Rusty
Today at 3 a.m.

Surgery is finished: Good news, all went well. Olive is such a little fighter. We are now praying that she will remain stable so we can get to Grand Rapids on the 24th. Olive will be going to DeVos Childrens Hospital. We are very thankful to the Dick DeVos Family. They have been on Olive's team from the start. All of you have been on this Journey with us. We are so thankful! Rusty

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Many Faces of Olive

These pictures are to die for... love this little one!

Eye Surgery for Olive... within 24 hours

From Lynette
This afternoon we were with Olive at the hospital when we were told today they were going to do the routine eye examination on her to assess for blindness. Rusty and I were both feeling pretty nervous and praying throughout the day that this would turn out better than our last doctor in Chiang Rai predicted. Three residents came in to check her and then called for the head opthamoligist to come and assess her. After he arrived he told us that based on the findings she will need to undergo immediate treatment by laser or cryotherapy surgery in the morning. The doctor told us that if they were to wait too long, or not do this surgery that she will be blind in the future. If they go ahead with it they can prevent this complication, but as with anything there are risks of doing this as well. Another retinal specialist came to confirm the findings and the pediatric team said she will be ok to go under general anesthesia for the procedure.

So here we wait..anxiously and nervously...but still grateful to be in a place where she can recieve the care that she needs.

If all goes well she will still be able to leave for the States on Tuesday.

Much love,


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Precious little one...

Look at this little bundle of love!

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Coming Home?

Its been a few days since our last update. Most of our time has been filled with being at the hospital holding Olive and spending time with her. There are many financial benefits (more affordable care) of being here at the government hospital, but along with the benefits come the downsides. The doctors here are overworked, which means sometimes you have to wait for their availability for procedures, wait for a spot in the operating room, etc. She has been without a drain in her head for the last six days, and each day her head circumference has continued to increase. Yesterday we were told by the residents that the doctor was coming to put in another drain around 2:00 pm. After waiting at the hospital, we finally got a phone call around 7:00 pm that he had other surgeries and wouldn't be available for 24 more hours. Today I was told he was coming to look at her at 1:00 pm, and instead he came at 6:30 pm. We've been trying our best to practice our patience...especially since there is not much else we can do. At this point we are hoping that Olive continues to remain stable and if so Olive will be flown back to the States around the 23rd of this month with one Thai doctor and two Thai nurses at her side.

Tonight the neurosurgeon inserted another ventricular drain and the plan is to keep it in until we leave on the 23rd. If she were to get an infection from the drain, then our plans may change once again, and we may be staying here longer.

Thank-you for your continued support and prayers.



Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Ultrasound

Dear friends,

This morning the neurosurgeon did another ultrasound and he was pleased with the results. He said that her brain tissue is continuing to expand and he was also pleased with how active she has been. For the last two days she has been breathing only room air, so that is also good news!

They are considering trying to switch all of her medicines to go through her ng tube and remove her IVs now that she is getting 22 ml of my milk 8 times a day. This way they won't have to keep poking her.

We are feeling encouraged as we crawl into bed tonight.



Thursday, November 12, 2009

Olive is on the Move!

From Lynette
The last few days have been a rollarcoaster of ups and downs and we have had little time to be online. I mentioned in the last post that there was a possibility of us heading to the States at the end of this week on a commercial flight, but that looks like it may not work out once again due to technical difficulties with the oxygen we will need along the way. However, there appears to be another possibility hovering in the distance to fly Olive home in 1.5 weeks. Yesterday a bed opened up for Olive at the government army hospital and she was transferred yesterday morning.

Tuesday night I flew up to Chiang Rai for 24 hours to pack up our things and say good-bye to our friends there. I woke up at 6:00 am to spend some time with the kids at the Akha Youth Development Center before they left for school at 7:00 am. They all had lots of questions for me about Olive, and when they would get to see her. After that I spent the morning/afternoon talking and packing up our things with Ghan, Blah, Ae, P Thim (some of my close Akha friends) and Libby at my house. In the afternoon/evening we spent time with the older kids from the AYDC in town, stopped in to visit the NICU nurses at Chiang Rai Regional Hospital, then off to a quick dinner with more close friends before going back to the airport to fly to Bangkok. I was unable to see everyone I was hoping to see, but the time was very limited. The day was full of emotions. A deep thankfulness for the friendships we have made here in Chiang Rai...anxiety for not being near Olive during her transfer to the government hospital...and then all of the unknowns hanging in the air about what the future will hold. At this point we are unsure if we will be going back to the States on a short or long-term basis. It will all depend on what Olive's needs will be in the future. It's hard to know how to process things when the future is so unknown. Time to return to the reminder that all we can do is take things one day at a time--one hour at a time.

Last night I landed in Bangkok about 11:15 pm and Rusty met me at the airport. We then went to the government hospital so that I could see where Olive was. When I came in she was crying and the nurses were all busy. Olive just started crying this last week more consistently when she is in pain or uncomfortable. I realize this is a good and normal sign, but also really hard to see when you aren't able to make her feel better. She had an IV inserted into a vein in her head because they were having issues getting it in her legs and arms. The nurses were friendly, but very professional and kindly reminded us that it was okay to be there for a few minutes but that it was not visiting hours. We walked home feeling anxious to have her in a new place once again.

Yesterday after transferring Olive to the army hospital Rusty broke down crying in front of the nurses and was just feeling overwhelmed...feeling sorry for Olive...worried about having her in a new place once again. This morning when we came in to see Olive the head nurse told us that we are going to be able to visit her any time we would like, and said they know our situation has been very stressful. The head nurse told me that she spent 2 months studying in Chicago at UIC...the same school I graduated from for my nursing degree. Today has been wonderful. The nurses are very kind and have been encouraging us to hold Olive as often as we would like. It's been fun to be back in a government NICU setting where we can mingle and chat with the nurses.

We had a meeting with the neurosurgeon this morning and he agreed that he would like to postpone placing the VP shunt (major surgery) as long as possible (ideally until she reaches 4.4 lbs.) and he will continue to try temporary measures to relieve the pressure in Olive's head in the meantime. He said he thinks Olive is stable enough to go ahead with the major surgery now, but will wait longer to lesson the risk of complications.

Olive has been breathing well on room air all day, so we are encouraged by this.

We are so thankful for your prayers, verbal support, and incredible generosity.

Much love,


Please don't forget to visit, donate, and bid in the Auction for Olive!!!

Bidding begins Sunday, November 22nd (just by commenting and placing your bid on the item you choose), and ends on Saturday, November 28th. Please join us in this creative way to raise financial support for the Polinders, and get a few Christmas gifts along the way!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quick Update

From Lynette
Today at 12:00am

Well, a few days ago the doctors told us that Olive is doing better than they expected after removing her first temporary drain. She is able to control her body temperature much better, and is off the ventilator--though still getting a little oxygen. They said because of this, that evacuating her to the States is another possibility again since she wouldn't have to be in an isolette on a stretcher (which was a previous issue for taking her on a commercial flight.

They are also saying that they would like to ideally wait on putting in the VP shunt until she gains more weight (2 kg or 4.4 lbs).

Over the last 2 days her head circumference continued to grow so yesterday they placed another temporary 7 day drain. If she remains stable there is a chance we will take a commercial flight with her to the States along with a doctor and nurse at the end of these seven days. If she would get an infection, or her condition would deteriorate at all, then we will plan on staying here in Thailand for her next treatment.

We are still waiting on a bed at the government hospital to open up, but if it does open up we aren't exactly sure if we will take that spot or stay here... it will all depend of what the plan is for her next step.

Today we are supposed to have a meeting with the director of the hospital to discuss a plan of care for her at this point. Some good news is that Olive's neurologist said that her brain tissue is beginning to expand again a little after removing the fluid. The more it expands, the better her prognosis for the future will be.

We will keep you updated when we are a bit more certain what is going on ourselves.



Sunday, November 8, 2009

Auction for Olive - You're Invited!

With thousands following the journey God is taking Rusty, Lynette and Olive on, many of us are continually thinking about them and praying for them. Also, many have given generously to the Olive Hope Care Fund that has been set up. As medical bills continue to add up we're hoping to add another way to increase the finances in that fund. We are hoping that many of you will start thinking creatively for ways to participate in the Auction for Olive. There are a couple ways you can participate.

1.) Auction off something, ANYTHING! Here are the basics:
  • If you want to donate an item please email Becky at or Cindy at with a complete description of the item you are donating and a picture if possible. If you have a blog with the item on it send us your web address along with the description.
  • An example of an item could be "Olive's Grandma Co will lovingly make you a plateful of her delicious chocolate chip cookies once a month for a year. Living in Lynden will make delivery easier but I'm sure other arrangements could be made"
  • All items will be auctioned off via the website linked above
  • Shipping costs of donated items are the responsibility of the donor.
  • Once the auction ends and item is paid for we will connect the donor with the buyer.
  • Bidding will begin Sunday, November 22 at 9:00 p.m. PST and end on Saturday, November 28 at 9:00 p.m. PST
2.) Bid on items during the auction. As the holidays are coming closer and we think about Christmas shopping this would be a great way to get your shopping done and support Rusty and Lynette.

3.) Do both!!

Items are already listed for the auction! Submit yours or begin bidding today!

Friday, November 6, 2009

No Drain!

From Lynette
Today at 6:10 a.m.

Olive is off the ventilator and the drain is out. Her head circumference has not grown in 48 hours so we are happy about that. The neurosurgeon told us that over the last 7 days they removed about 400 ml of fluid from her head. Craziness! I was able to finally hold her quite a bit today now that the drain is out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I will keep asking...

I wept as I read this today...

From Lynette
Today at 11:51am

I was thinking today about a conversation I had many times with close friends before becoming pregnant with Olive. The conversation was about my fear of having a baby…all the things I would have to give up. How self-less you need to be. And that once you have a baby YOU will be the one in charge of caring for it—you can never give him/her back to their parents and drive home to sleep.

It’s interesting how quickly one can change perspective, and how drastically life has changed since having Olive…how much more ready I felt to be a mother after being breaths away from losing her. How willing I felt to give up my time and make life changes if it meant keeping her. And then came the fears of holding on too tightly to keeping her, and wanting to be able to let her go if that was what was best for her. And the times we tried to “let her go” and “give her to Jesus” and how she kept fighting and taking one more breath than we were expecting her to.

I think things happen for a reason, and believing that also helps me not drown in guilt that I did something to make Olive come so early. I have been struggling with those thoughts and feelings...the “what if I did this differently”...or “what if I listened to all my Thai friends advice rather than laughing at them when they told me…” Still I can recognize that those “what ifs” aren’t going to help me in dealing with what tomorrow will bring me, and they can't change the past.

So now I will continue to take a day at a hour at a time.

Yesterday the neurosurgeon asked me if I knew about her case. I told him I had already been told that she had the worst kind of brain bleed and that her prognosis is very bad. He agreed and said that her brain tissue is so thin that she may not be able to do anything but lay in bed when she gets older. She may be blind, and she may be deaf. She may not be able to speak, or process information. He said he hopes this won’t be the case, and that sometimes things turn out better than doctors expect.

I've heard this about 15 times from our doctor in Chiang Rai, and other doctors in the States, but it just never feels like old news. Each time it feels like someone just punched me in the gut and knocked the wind out of me. I tried to hold myself together, but my throat tightened and my eyes welled up with tears. My mind blanked with the other questions I was planning on asking. The doctors and nurse tried to comfort me, but I just needed time to be alone and sob.

I believe that God still does miracles, and I will continue to ask for them. I also know that often He didn’t choose to heal the whole crowd, but only one out of the bunch…and I don’t know if Olive will be that one. But I will keep asking like she will be that one.

When He doesn't answer my big requests like, "Jesus, heal her brain...renew the damaged places" I start making my requests today, "Jesus, can you at least allow Olive to sense how much she is loved? Can you let her smile when she gets bigger?" And before I go to bed I will ask Him again to touch her, to surround her as she sleeps, and to do more than I can even ask or imagine.

Its hard for me to believe that you need to know the right way to pray--like its some kind of formula. In fact, when I hear that little children are praying for Olive before they get tucked in at night all around the world, it's those prayers I get most hopeful about. Those simple honest requests to Jesus with no fancy wording attached.

It’s been confusing to know where the line is drawn between denial and faith. It’s impossible not to hope for the best. I am willing to raise a disabled child and I will love her with everything in me. I think I already do.

Whether life brings us what we were hoping for or not I am still resting in the fact that God is good. That He is compassionate and gracious, and abounding in love. That Olive is a gift. And that someday far down the road this part of the journey we are on will make more sense then it does while we are in it and searching for our footing.

The little lady today

From Lynette
Today at 6:53am

Olive had a rather uneventful day today which we always are happy about. She is on room air with her oxygen, and though she is ready to come off the ventilator the doctor has decided to keep it in until her surgery is finished. She has had very few seizures today (I only saw one), and has been able to control her body temperature much better. The neurosurgeon asked for the nurses to clamp her drain for 24 hours to assess how much her head grows during that time. 19 hours later it is still measuring the same at 32.5 cm, so this is also good news. She has been comfortable most all of the day, except for the last time I visited her and she was getting poked and poked while they searched for new veins. The poor little dear! I had to leave so that I wouldn't make the nurses feel like someone was breathing down their necks, and will go back and visit her again in 30 minutes.

We are still waiting for a bed to open up for her at the NICU at the government hospital. The doctors are hoping that happens tomorrow, but they can't make any promises.

I left the hospital today and walked around in the sunshine for the first time since we have arrived a week ago. I forgot how healing just smelling fresh air and grass can be after being in a hospital for so long. I think I will try to make a habit of it.

Thank you for your words of love and encouragement and continued prayers.

Friends and Family and readers in the blogoshpere, thank you so much for continuing to pray for this little one. Let us not grow weary in well doing...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The next big step...

From Lynette
Today at 12:42am

Yesterday we had lots of meetings with the doctors discussing the next best step for Olive. A week ago when her temporary drain was put in the plan was to transfer her home to a hospital in the States once they took the drain out and she stabilized.

We have been looking into options of getting Olive back to the States via air, but it seems as if those options continue to not be working out. Some of this is due to the number of stops a smaller plane would need to make and issues with changes in pressure. We have also looked into going with a commercial flight and taking along a doctor and nurse from here, but there have been issues with getting a stretcher on the flights (for her isolette) and oxygen issues and policies with the airlines.

The other option would be to use an air ambulance service, but the cheapest option we can find is a minimum of $170,000 US dollars.

The doctors at our hospital are very well trained in medical evacuations and the specific requirements Olive would need to make a transfer at this point. They are suggesting for us to keep her here to do the VP shunt surgery. This is a major surgery where they place a shunt in her head that drains down her neck all the way into her peritoneum (in her abdomen). These shunts can stay in for a few years at a time if there are no complications. Usually doctors will wait as long as possible to do this surgery in small babies because of the risk of skin break down being greater the younger the baby is. However, in this circumstance the doctors think this would be the best option for Olive at this time.

The hospital we are at is very aware of our financial situation and the cap on our insurance so we have been working together to come up with the most ideal option for both Olive's care and our finances.

The doctors here at Samitivej have a connection with a government army hospital here in Bangkok and one of the top neurosurgeons there (who works back and forth between private and government hospitals). He was trained in Australia and speaks great English, and the doctors here have full confidence in him. He has agreed to take Olive's case. If Olive is transferred to that hospital the cost of the surgery will drop significantly. They also tell us that this hospital has a better equipped NICU then the one we had Olive at in Chiang Rai.

So...after much thought and talking with a neonatologist in the States, we told the doctors this morning that we would like her to get the surgery done at the government hospital and then we will see how it goes having her there. If we feel we would rather have her at the private hospital again after seeing how they care for her at the government hospital, then we will go ahead and transfer her back here to Samitivej. If she is here at Samitivej I know she will always have one nurse focusing only on her, and that there will be no visiting hour limitations...and that they really encourage skin to skin and helping me begin trying to breast-feed her as well. But we will see...maybe the staff at the Army hospital will be wonderful too and we will feel confident in their care for her.

They are saying Olive will need to stay in the hospital after the shunt surgery for another month, and then after that they would like us to stay at a hotel or apartment close by and practice caring for her on our own (breast-feeding...etc) for another month. Then if she has any issues during that month they can help us or if she would have any complications. After that time is up, if we feel confident in caring for her and if she is stable (if she can regulate her body temp and is off oxygen, and eating well) we could take a commercial flight home. Craziness.

So...i guess we will be here in Bangkok for another two months or so. This is not what we were expecting, but it seems to be our only current option and I think I can speak for both of us in saying that we feel a peace about it.

Rusty is in Chiang Rai tying up loose ends and packing up a few more things since we originally thought we might be leaving for home in the next few days. He will return tonight to be back in time for Olive's surgery.

So the journey continues...thank-you to all of you who are walking it with us.

Olive has been stable. The doctors think her apnea was maybe do to fluid overload in her lungs from replacing the fluid they were taking out of the drain. They put her back on the ventilator just for a few days to help her rest and help her gain weight easier. They said they can take it out today, but recommended keeping it in until her surgery is over since they would need to put it back in for the surgery anyways. She is having fewer and fewer seizures so that is good too. Today she seems to be very comfortable.

Pray that her brain would be able to expand again after the intense pressure it experienced from the fluid in her head...this is a concern the doctors talked with us about. Please continue praying for damaged cells to be made new...


Olive with her cute little shrinking head. This is after having the drain in for almost 6 days. Her head circumference has decreased from 38 to 33 cm over the last 6 days!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Are Worth Far More Than Many Sparrows

From Lynette
Today at 6:55 a.m.

About four days before Olive was born I was walking around outside of our house in Chiang Rai when I spotted something strange moving around in the grass under a tree. When I got up close I was very disturbed to find a little sparrow still alive on the ground slowly moving with ants completely covering it's little body and biting it. I yelled for Libby to come help me and we moved him onto the concrete and tried to brush off the ants with a broom. We then took him into the house and made a little bath for him to get rid of the ants hiding under his feathers.

We sat there watching him dry off for about 15 minutes killing any sneaky little ant that crawled out from under his wings. The sparrow laid on the counter for about an hour not moving at all. He drank a little water when we gave it to him dripping off a cotton swab. After a while we moved him to the floor in a little bowl thinking he would probably die later in the day. We were happy that at least he would die in peace rather than getting bitten alive by those awful ants.

A few hours later the little bird jumped out of the bowl and started hopping around the house. It took us about 10 minutes before we could catch him because he started flying again. I then walked outside with him and he flew out of my hands away into a tree. I thought a lot about this verse...

“Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s [knowledge]. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: You are worth more than many sparrows.” -Matthew 10:29-31

I was amazed that God cared enough about this little bird to let us come across him and nurse him back to health.

I've thought a lot about this situation and verse over the past five weeks since Olive has been born. It's come to my mind in those moments when God has felt silent. In those moments when I have wondered if He has even been listening to my prayers. When I have been overwhelmed and confused. Eventually He gently nudges me with the reminder that He cares for those little sparrows--so how much MORE does he care for Olive?

Our emotions have hit the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in the past five weeks. The simple fact is that God loves Olive even more than I...and all of this is ultimately out of my control. He can choose to take her to heaven, or to continue giving us the gift of caring for her.

He has plans for us which we can't even begin to imagine. I have NO idea what my life will look like in five years from now...or even tomorrow. If I sit and think about that for too long I can start to get pretty anxious. I've learned in this last month that life can change drastically within the hour. Ken Koeman wrote this to us the other day and it is so true..." have I mentioned that most of the time God does not lead us with a searchlight, but rather with a flashlight? Step by step, through winding paths…and slow."

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, or even tonight. What I DO know is that if God cares about these little sparrows-- that He cares for us and the details of our lives...and that He is enough. Now only if I can just remember that in the darkest of moments.

Weekend Updates

The little lady herself on her 5 week birthday! Olive, you have captured the hearts of many! We thank God for the miracle of your life, and the way you compel us to fall at the feet of Jesus.

From Lynette
Today at 5:30 a.m.

Olive is having a harder day today. She had some apnea over night and today so the doctors have been trying to figure out the cause of it. Currently she is sleeping and stable. Thank you for your prayers.

From Lynette
Saturday at 2:40 p.m.

Olive had another ultrasound this morning and the neurologist was very pleased with the results. Because she is responding so well they have decided to remove 10 cc of fluid every four hours now. She is still very stable. We are very grateful.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Relief & Relaxation... and Comfort

From Lynette
Today at 5 a.m.

Olive is off oxygen today and just breathing in room air. She is looking so comfortable in her little bed with her head resting on little water pillows. Lots more fluid continues to be coming out of her drain and her head is looking and measuring smaller. So thankful for all of this.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Update of the Last Three Days

From Lynette
Today at 7:00am

Dear friends and family,

Much has happened since my last post. Life has been such a rollar coaster changing hour by hour, so I have only been updating immediate family because our time has been so limited.

Since my last post we were working towards moving Olive to Chiang Mai and waiting on a bed opening up in the NICU at the government hospital since the private hospital refused to take Olive calling her a "hopeless case."

Two days ago Olive became less stable and was having constant seizures for almost a 30 hour period. Rusty had gone to Chiang Mai with his mom the evening the seizures began to work with the consulate to get Olive a US passport, Social Security #, and birth certificates taken care of.

Here is the timeline of the last three days...

Monday night: Rusty and Colleen go to Chiang Mai. After leaving Olive begins having seizures and looking uncomfortable. The doctor was trying to up her milk intake to maximum intake to help her gain weight, but she wasn't tolerating it well and was throwing up and had a swollen little belly. Her head circumference had increased 2 cm on that day...I was starting to feel worried of what we were going to do if a bed didn't open up soon at the government hospital in Chiang Mai.

Tuesday morning: We get a phone call of someone who wishes to remain anonymous who would be willing to help us get Olive back to the States (miracle #1), Rusty meets with the US consulate in Chiang Mai who cancels all of their morning plans to focus on getting Olive's passport, SS # and residency as Michigan, and birth certificate finished all FREE of charge and finished by noon (miracle #2).

Meanwhile in Chiang Rai our doctor is saying that if Olive can't keep her milk down that she can't be transferred to Chiang Mai even IF a bed opens up. She is also having lots of seizures and our doctor thinks she shouldn't go. We are BEGGING her to let her go just to get this fluid relieved to help her with the seizures and to get her at least to a place where they have the resources and ability to surgically help her. Rusty then starts talking with our insurance about getting her medivaced to a private hospital in Bangkok where SOMEBODY can help her. This is approved and they say they will come later in the evening to get her.

Tuesday Afternoon:Rusty (who is still in Chiang Mai) is feeling super encouraged everything that has come together during the day.

Meanwhile I am in Chiang Rai next to Olive's bed watching her have constant seizures that are not being controlled by her anti-seizure medicines. She is now not able to have any milk because of her seizures so she is back on an IV and her veins keep blowing so she is getting poked so many times. My heart is getting more and more worried and breaking watching her look so miserable... and her head keeps growing.

THEN the doctor comes in and tells me that Olive has a severe case of pneumonia they just found. She thinks it is most likely from her aspirating milk from throwing up the night before. She tells me she thinks she shouldn't go to Bangkok because she is unstable. She also mentions that if we don't give Olive antibiotics for the pneumonia that the infection will most likely take her in a few days and this is her suggestion. Being next to Olive for the last 24 hours and watching her look so miserable I felt like maybe this is where we are supposed to step back and stop forcing her little body to work so hard. That maybe we should just let her go, let her be with Jesus where her body will be made whole and she will no longer be in any pain. Tears are flooding as I call Rusty and tell him the news the doctor just told me. We cry together on the phone and Rusty says he is leaving Chiang Mai now and will be there soon.

Tuesday Evening: I tell our doctor that we need the evening to talk together and pray about not giving Olive antibiotics and we will tell her our final decision in the morning. Colleen decides not to fly out after-all, thinking she will want to be there for the funeral. Rusty and Colleen drive back that evening and cancel the medivac team for that night and puts them on hold until the morning. Rusty and I call a neonatologist in the States to talk through our current confusions we find ourselves in. We go to sleep crying that night feeling a deep sense of sadness and trying to find that still small voice that seems lost...exhausted.

Wednesday Morning: Rusty goes to the hospital to talk with our doctor with Libby and our friend Blah. Rusty is preparing to tell the doctor that we are planning on not giving Olive the antibiotics and letting her go. However, when he arrives Olive is peacefully sleeping without any seizures. The doctor comes in and tells him that maybe Olive doesn't have pneumonia after all and instead that she has some sort of chronic lung disease that means she may need to be on a ventilator for the rest of her life...and that we should let her go.

Rusty gets upset about her misdiagnosis about the pneumonia and tells the doctor that today Olive is leaving Chiang Rai and we are getting her to a facility in Bangkok where somebody can begin relieving the pressure in her head. The doctor says she isn't stable enough and Rusty says he would rather risk leaving and help her somehow. He calls insurance and a medivac team is approved and will arrive in late afternoon.

Libby and I drive home to our house and pack up our things in case we go from Bangkok directly to America. We have one hour to pack up and then drive back to the hospital. No clue whether we are leaving for one week, one month, one year, or for good. Mixed emotions and a feeling of numbness of not wanting to grieve good-byes here if the future is so unclear.

Wednesday Evening: Rusty and I say our good-byes to the wonderful nurses in the Chiang Rai ICU that we have grown to love. We leave with Olive in a small plane and medivac team to Bangkok. Olive remains stable during the transfer.

Once we arrive at this AMAZING hospital we are met by a team of doctors (neonatologist, neurosurgeon, cardiac specialist, and internist) who are ready to care for Olive (all of whom speak amazing english). They tell us to relax and they assess her, talk together, and do a bedside ultrasound. Then we all met together for a consultation meeting and they go through the different options of treatment at this stage and suggest doing a ventricular tap (a temporary drain in her head to relieve some of the fluid that stays in for 5 days). We explain to them our insurance issues as well so that they understand we are working towards getting her back to the States as soon as she is stable enough to get her on Medicaid, and they are very understanding.

Last night they went ahead with the temporary drain and everything went well. She is in her own ICU room with a nurse and doctor caring for her at all times. They discount the price for us to sleep in the hospital in a room down the hall from Olive and tell us we can visit her at any time and if the doctor needs to talk he/she will come and knock on our door. Amazing.

Now we are having meetings to discuss evacuation options in the next 5-7 days, and back-up plans in case she is not stable to go at that point. The staff at this hospital have been incredible with helping us talk through issues with insurance, evacuation issues, explaining in detail their findings about Olive from tests they are running. They also talk to her like she is a little sweet baby and look at her closely... smile at her. She is being treated like a little person with value, and it means so much to us.

We are so thankful to be here in this place, at this moment. I could keep going, but this is getting to be MUCH to long for your weary eyes to read. I will try to post again tomorrow.

Much love,


Answers to Prayer!

From Rustin and Lynette
Yesterday at 11 p.m.

Olive is responding well, to the drain in her little head. We are feeling so blessed to have a Dr. that is by her side 24-7. We can now sleep. We need to give Olive a few days here, and now we are trying to figure out the details of an evacuation to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Please pray that everything falls into place for that. Money stuff is freaking us out, thanks to all who have helped us out!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


From Lynette & Rusty
Today at 12:00 p.m.

Well we made it! Had a team of Doctors waiting for us, they are great. Olive is geting her poor little head tapped to relieve the pressure as I write. Thanks so much for your prayers. We now have a couple of days for the doctors to get to know Olive and try and help us make good decisions for her future. She is in her own room, with her own nurse! We are thankful. Rusty and Lynette


From Lynette
Today at 12:30 a.m.

The 3 of us are flying to BKK to a private hospital and 4:30pm Thailand time [Thailand is 12 hours ahead of us]. It is a big risk! But we feel like it is the only way Olive can get the care that she needs right now. Please be praying for us.

If you are new to this blog or Olive Hope's story, you can start reading from the beginning here. You can also follow the post Label "Olive Hope Polinder" in the right sidebar.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mid-morning Update on Olive

From Lynette
Today at 11 a.m.

Olive is not doing well. She has been having continuous seizures for the last 24 hours and htey are having a difficult time controlling them with medication. She also has pneumonia again and her vital signs haven't been stable today.

Citizenship for Olive!

Update from Lynette
Today at 3:30 a.m.

Some good news. I walked out of the US Consulate in Chiang Mai with Olive's passport, birth Certificate, and Pending Social Security number. We have been feeling like things are not going our way lately. But today everything went our way. This stuff usually takes days to process. Praise God. And Thanks to all the workers at the US Consulate in Chiang Mai.

Olive is now a US citizen!

Olive is uncomfortable today. Please pray.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Compliments of Ryan Callahan

Turn up the volume...

To donate to the Olive Hope Care Fund, make checks payable to "Olive Hope Care Fund" and mail to:

Stacia Hoeksema
1260 Prospect SE
Grand Rapids, MI USA 49507

Olive Transfer Update

From Lynette
Today at 5:50am

This morning we walked over to the hospital prepared to be moving Olive to Chiang Mai today to begin getting consultations from neurosurgeons there about what the next step is to care for her ever growing head. After arriving it became clear that there was no bed currently available in the NICU at the government hospital in Chiang Mai...and now they are saying they aren't sure when one will open up.

We talked with our doctor here and with a doctor in Chiang Mai about possibly temporarily moving her to a private hospital in Chiang Mai until a bed opens up at the government hospital. After our doctor here called the private hospital in Chiang Mai she told us they won't accept Olive into their care because she is classified as a "hopeless case."

Great. We really appreciate your help and care. So what exactly are we supposed to do with Olive when her vitals are stable and the pressure in her head increases day by day? I guess just continue waiting and praying for a bed at the government hospital.

We have a wonderful head doctor from the government hospital working to get her in ASAP, but there is really nothing he can do until a bed becomes available for her...which hopefully will be in the next two days. We are hoping to get her under his care when she moves to Chiang Mai. He studied in the States, speaks amazing English and had a pre-term baby of his own while in the States. He seems to think he would like to assess her first in person and then decide what the next best step send her to help her in Chiang Mai...or if its possible to get her to the States.

Last night we spoke with another WONDERFUL neonatologist from the States who thinks the best thing we can do at this point is get her home to the States ASAP and on Medicaid, or to proceed with some temporary measures in Chiang Mai to relieve the pressure, then continue trying to get her home (most likely to a hospital in Indiana or Michigan).

Now the question is how do we get her home if that is what is best for her? Tomorrow morning Rusty will be meeting with the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai to begin working on Olive's passport as well as researching options about flights back.

On a lighter note, we have been having lots of fun with our nurses here at the ICU in Chiang Rai. Today when I was sticking more milk that I had pumped in the freezer they were laughing at how much I had stored up compared to how little Olive can drink. I told them they should start drinking it with their morning which they were appalled and thought better if I just make Rusty drink all of it, or to have him use it as a face mask. :>)

You have all been SO wonderful with your words of love and encouragement, your incredible generosity, and your prayers. Couldn't ask for a bigger support team during this time.



Sunday, October 25, 2009

This weekend's updates on Olive

Olive Update from Friday, October 23rd:

Today they removed Olive's nasal cannula so she is on room air. They also took her off IV fluids and continue to increase her milk intake. Looks like we will be heading to Chiang Mai on Monday.

Update on Olive (Written by Lynette's sister, Stacia)
Yesterday at 11:09am

Thanks to so many of you who have responded to Rusty and Lynette's request for some assistance in researching options for them. We have gotten a ton of very helpful information over the past few days. Rusty asked me to write an update, just so people would know what they have figured out thus far...

Rusty was able to get in touch with the second in command at the U.S. Consulate (whose wife "incidentally/providentially" had a premie baby in Thailand recently as well). He was very helpful and is working right now on all of the citizenship, birth certificate, etc. end of things.

They have decided they will move Olive to Chiang Mai (3 hrs from Chiang Rai) on Monday. They will pay for this transfer from the Olive Hope Care Fund as Aetna will only cover one transfer and this is not the one we want them to cover!! There is a very good Neonatal Surgeon in Chiang Mai, who was trained in the U.S. and speaks English well. Once they get there they will sit down with him and figure out the best option for relieving the pressure on Olive's brain. They will also discuss next steps in terms of if they should remain in Thailand or return to the U.S.

We have gotten some very helpful information about Medicaid and it looks like Olive will qualify if/when she comes to the U.S. They'll also likely need to apply for Social Security Disability for Olive, so we are continuing to investigate the options there. If you have any contacts in the SSA -- please let us know.

How Olive would come to the U.S. is another matter entirely... PLEASE PRAY THAT AETNA WILL APPROVE THIS MEDICAL EVACUATION (if that is what the MD recommends) AND WILL COVER IT IN FULL!!!! It is very frustrating (to me at least) that Rusty and Lynette have been paying privately for this insurance for such as time as this and now there is only coverage for a small fraction of the costs they are facing...

Thanks to all of you who have given to the OLIVE HOPE CARE FUND. Rusty and Lynette are so blessed and overwhelmed by the generosity of so many of you. Here is the link if you would like to donate:

God continues to sustain them through this journey... please continue to pray and if you have any additional information you think would be helpful, please let us know!
Tomorrow (10/25) is Olive Hope's one month birthday!

Psalm 139:13-16 (adapted for Olive)
For you created Olive's inmost being; you knit her together in her mother's womb. We praise you for she is fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, we know that full well. Olive's frame was not hidden from you when she was made in the secret place. When she was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw her unformed body. All the days ordained for Olive Hope were written in your book before one of them came to be...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A need for Olive: Can you help us get some answers?

From Rustin
Today at 3:33am

Lynette and I are faced with some decisions in the next couple of days. It looks like Olive will need a shunt soon. We have been advised to have her moved to Chiang Mai (2.5 hours away) We are trying to figure out our options before making this decision. We need to know if Olive would be eligible for Medicaid in the States. We have a cap on our insurance, and are wondering if we should try to get her home to America asap. Does anyone know how this would work for a baby born overseas to come into an American hospital? Does it depend on the State? If anyone knows someone that has the answers to these questions can you put us in touch with them? Does anyone know someone who works for Medicaid? our email is Thanks for all your help and prayers. I bring this to you because many have asked if there is anyway you can help. To have some of these answers would help us a lot.

Olive is again stable today. Her head grew a lot over the night. She had another CT scan today. We need to relieve her pressure asap.

Love, Rusty

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Possibly Moving Olive to Chiang Mai

From Lynette
Today at 6:22am

This morning we met with our neonatologist to discuss what the next step will be for dealing with Olive's growing head. The neurosurgeons here in Chiang Rai don't have experience doing this surgery on such a little baby, and it looks like the best option will be to move her to a hospital in Chiang Mai (three hours away). We are waiting to hear back from the government hospital there as to when a bed will open up for her in the NICU and then we will most likely be packing up and moving our headquarters. This could be in a day, or a week. We will be very sad to leave our nurses and doctor here, but it looks like this is the best option for Olive.

She had another good day today.




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