|A Remarkable Thanksgiving Story|
|Monday, November 22 2010|
|When he came into the world six years ago, Ole Bakken, as he is now named, was a normal 8-pound-10-ounce boy. A healthy baby born to young parents; a life filled with promise.|
But by best estimates, Ole’s perfect, promise-filled world lasted a mere three weeks. That’s when his parents noticed his body had stiffened and his head had locked into a thrown-back position. They took him to the small hospital in rural Washington, but any signs of trouble were gone by the time a doctor examined him. A mystery ailment, or so it seemed.
Then, Ole started having seizures. This time, doctors at that same small hospital recognized immediately what was wrong, and with heavy hearts, sent Ole to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Doctors there confirmed the diagnosis: bilateral hemorrhaging of the brain and bilateral retinal hemorrhaging. In terms we know: shaken baby syndrome.
Blind at 2 months old, Ole also had a broken leg, a left arm he could not use, and eight broken ribs in the process of healing. Doctors think Ole’s ribs were broken before that first inconclusive doctor visit. Ole’s family denied any abuse. No one was prosecuted.
Broken, and battered, 2-month-old Ole endured two surgeries over the next weeks. One of the procedures placed a shunt in his head to allow blood to drain into his stomach; a new permanency in a life not yet lived.
Calling All Angels
For Ole, the hope of normal was all but gone. His potentially bright future was now dimmed by the clouds of severe and seemingly insurmountable injuries. Doctors were unsure if he would even survive.
The only certainty: Ole couldn’t return to his parents. A judge’s ruling ensured that.
The battered baby needed a new home. He also needed an angel. And as luck would have it, he didn’t get one—he got two.
A week before Ole’s release from the hospital, Collette Bakken’s phone rang. A little boy needed big help. Collette, a labor and delivery nurse, was one of the first people to meet Ole when she tended to him in the hospital nursery. “I wasn’t surprised when I got the call,” she said. “We all knew what had happened to him.”
Collette and her husband, Lyle, were used to taking care of kids in need. Collette, as a nurse. Lyle, as security officer with the Washington State Detention Department, handling juvenile delinquents. They were veteran foster parents who had cared for more than 50 kids. And, between the two of them, they had nine children of their own.
Three months into an already hard life, Ole’s fate had turned to fortune.
Lyle and Collette took Ole in, knowing the overwhelming challenges they were likely to face, and understanding those challenges could be short-lived. “We were told he may not survive,” Lyle said.
If Ole managed to survive, odds were overwhelming that challenges would be enormous. “We were told he would probably be profoundly retarded and that he would not speak or walk due to brain atrophy,” Collette said. But nothing could stand in the way of their fostering the little boy with so much need.
A Miracle Begins
From the very moment they met Ole, that second time, Collette and Lyle cared for him as if he were one of their own. Collette kept Ole moving—exercising his arms and legs and manipulating his fingers. Ole offered little, if any, feedback. But Collette believed the movement and stimulation could help rewire his synapses.
With steadfast love and determination, Ole’s angels were working to rebuild him from the outside in. With little to encourage them, they worked and prayed unwaveringly, month after month.
Then, in one defining moment, their prayers were answered. Ole suddenly, miraculously, rolled over. “From then, we were on our way,” said Collette. Ole then underwent speech therapy, physical therapy and overcame a swallowing disorder.
more follows in this remarkable story