I never do this… especially not here but today I need to share about a family, not in Haiti, but right in my back yard in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
First an update as I have been stubbornly silent over the last year. I have refused to believe that my Haiti days are over… and I still don’t believe that. But they will be different. Most of you know that over the past few years (three years in February!!) my already beat up body was hit by malaria, Hepatitis A, pneumonia, typhoid fever and dengue fever… sometimes dealing with several of those at once. I continued to fight hard for the next year to get my health under control and was finally diagnose with Crohn’s Disease and a very compromised immune system. My doctors have been mostly supportive but one. My last trip into Haiti was an entire year ago in October 2013. How strange… This past year has been the craziest. I started dealing with what would end up being cervical cancer back in February of this year and am finally now 8 weeks post op and cancer free. Thank you Jesus!
Over the last year especially, I have been angry and depressed and incredibly childish about missing my sweet friends at the mission, the brothels and the prison. I miss my little Haiti house… bucket baths… spotty generator and all. But I have also been blessed. In so many ways. Spending every day and night with my hubby instead of just texting and voxing our goodnights… Being able to be a daily part of my families lives… The many new friends I have made and the opportunities that we have had to help.
This is Rylee’s story. A little girl I have never met before but feel completely linked to through her illness. As missionaries in Haiti we all know the dangers of a mosquito bite… but here in the US? This story and family has captured my heart and I know they will touch yours as well.
12 year old Rylee Kinnett was diagnosed with West Nile Virus and is in the pediatric ICU at Shands hospital in Gainesville, Florida. Her mother, Shara, is by her side and has been since October 2nd.
Rylee was admitted to Halifax on Oct. 2nd for a fever. After 3 days she started having debilitating headaches and a severe stiff neck. She was transferred to Shands Childrens Hospital in Gainesville on Oct. 7th where she had a seizure like episode, then began to lose use of her legs and became incontinent. The paralysis ascended up to her chest. She was placed on a ventilator on Oct. 10th and was unresponsive for 8 days. She was diagnosed with West Nile Virus, Encephalitis, and Spinal Meningitis on Oct. 15th. She has Flacid paralysis from her neck down and she may or may not regain use of her extremities.
Rylee was born with SCIDS (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency) which is making her recovery even more complicated. Doctors have said to expect the recovery process to take up to 2 years. She will eventually be transferred to Atlanta to an inpatient therapy facility, but won’t go there until she is still stable enough. She is now having problems with Tachycardia (high heart rate) and Hypertension. Rylee does have some brain damage in her thalamus and frontal lobe, but doctors feel she will recover mentally. She is completely unable to move her arms or legs and she is unable to talk. She had a tracheostomy on 10/23. She can lightly squeeze her left hand and push down with her left foot, she can barely wiggle her toes and fingers on the right side. She does respond to her mom sometimes (when not heavily medicated) by raising her eyebrows for yes and squinting them down for no).
This has blown Rylee’s entire families world apart. Her mother has been unable to work throughout the past month as the hospital Rylee is in is 2 hours away and Shara hardly leaves her side. Rylee’s three brothers are staying with different relatives. There are payments that need to be made regardless of the fact that Rylee is fighting for her life. Rent.. Truck payment… Electricity… Phone bills… on and on the list goes. Thousands of dollars a month that needs to go out with nothing coming in.
I can’t help but put myself in this mothers shoes. It’s only by the grace of God that I have never been in this situation myself. My children are grown and healthy. I can’t imagine the fear. Not only of losing her daughter but of losing her LIFE as she and her family knew it. This is a family that needs to be surrounded with love and support from her community. We are holding a poker run and benefit for Rylee this weekend but it seems like such a drop in the bucket. My fear is that we will forget. This family has a LONG road ahead of them. Shara feels supported as we rally around her to put this thing together… but then what?
Please lift them up in prayer. Pray for Rylee’s healing. Pray for strength and peace for her mother and family. Pray for wisdom for the doctors caring for this sweet girl. Pray that the right person(s) hear her story and find a way to lift some of the heavy financial burdens.
As for Haiti… it’s one day at a time for me. I am determined to get back down there soon. Pray for that too! :)