THE COMPASS

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OUR GRANDDAUGHTER OLIVIA BY JUDY AND DOUG MERCER

Our journey as the grandparents of a child requiring a lot of medical attention started when Olivia was born 12 weeks premature. She spent the first two months of her life in the NICU at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. At the age of 11 days she suffered a bleed in the ventricle of her brain. As a result she is hydrocephalic and has two shunts.

Right from the beginning our role as a family and as Olivia’s grandparents has been to love and support our granddaughter. When Olivia is in the hospital our daughter stays with her. It’s very important for us as her grandparents to be at the hospital for all surgeries and serious procedures. It offers both physical and emotional support to Olivia and her parents

It has been and will be a roller coaster of highs and lows, worry and elation, stress and joy and many other emotions when dealing with various procedures we’ve seen our granddaughter go through. The hardest part is seeing her so very sick, and not being able to do anything to take away the pain or make her feel better. Your heart will ache and your emotions will surface. When that happens we find it best to leave the room for a few minutes to compose ourselves. Olivia is sick enough and she and her parents don’t need to have added stress by seeing us upset. There have been many sleepless nights. The best philosophy we have learned to live by is “this too will pass.” When things get tough there’s only one way to go and that’s up. We have faith that one way or another that things would work themselves out and get better. So far that has definitely been the case.

We feel another very important role is for us to help make life for the other two children as normal as possible during Olivia’s hospital stays. Knowing the other children are taken care of takes worry and stress off of Olivia’s parents. We have the children stay at our place or we stay with them in their own home, make sure they get to school, that homework is done, and they get the attention they deserve. We take them up to the hospital to visit their sister and parents every day if at all possible. Taking a home-cooked meal to the hospital for our daughter also helps.

Olivia is a normal, spunky, incredibly strong 10-year-old child and is treated as such. Even though medically she has been through a great deal in her life, she remains a happy, intelligent, compassionate and loving little girl. We are incredibly proud of her and marvel at her outlook on life.

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