There is a young girl age 12 named Olivia, she has a brother named Mikey, a sister named Elizabeth and a dad and mom who love her so much! She is a good student, she loves what she does, she is kind, funny and can be very feisty when it comes to getting what she wants!
Olivia was ready for the holidays, she loves Christmas time. Unfortunately, she came down with the flu the week before Christmas break. Olivia is in seventh grade at Elm Middle School in Elmwood Park. Mom and dad gave her the usual care to treat her flu like symptoms. She stayed home on Monday, went back to school on Tues but needed to stay home the remainder of the week.
On Sat when both mom and dad were home Olivia’s flu symptoms began to take a turn for the worst. Mom suggested Olivia get up and eat something and freshen up a little. Upon getting up Olivia began to wobble and begin to look a bit dazed and confused. Her mom and dad rushed over to her side, they realized she needed more assistance than they could give so they quickly got her ready to go to the emergency room. As they prepared to get her in the car she took a turn for the worst and collapsed in her fathers arms. He yelled to call 911! Within minutes the Elmwood Park police showed up followed by paramedics!
Mom rode with Olivia in the ambulance while dad followed behind. They were told to head to Gotleib Hospital. Olivia’s older sister Elizabeth works near Gotlieb Hospital and was anxiously waiting for them to arrive.
During the transport the police officer drove up along side Dads car and says “Gottlieb Hospital is full were are taking Olivia to Loyola Hospital.” A call was made to Elizabeth, who quickly drove over to Loyola Hospital to meet the family in the emergency room.
Upon arrival, Olivia was not showing signs of improvement, given the severity of her symptoms a neurologist and an anesthesiologist who were in the emergency room at the time were called to examine Olivia.
(Note: both the neurologist and anesthesiologist later told Olivia’s dad that they normally are not in the ER, it was highly unusual for them to be there at the time Olivia was brought in!) An MRI scan was quickly ordered, upon seeing the results both doctors recognized the severity of Olivia’s condition, an infection had traveled to her brain.
Forty seven minutes from the time paramedics where called Olivia was undergoing brain surgery to save her life! From that moment on Olivia was placed in Gods hands! The day of surgery was December 23, 2017.
As family members were notified and gathered in the waiting room for the results of the surgery, prayers and love began poring over the doctors and of course Olivia!
The doctors met with Olivia’s mom and dad upon completion of the surgery. They were cautiously optimistic, Olivia’s prognosis was very serious and the next 24-48 hours would be critical! Olivia would be placed in an induced coma to maintain and hopefully contain her condition. Olivia’s brain was surrounded by an infection caused either by a simple ear infection or sinus infection.
It was later determined her sinuses were completely closed, the flu systems she had were signs of the sinus infection. The doctors explained that sometimes as bones are developing in young adolescents the opening between the sinus is not very wide thus closing up from infection can happen. In Olivia’s case, the sinus closed up, the infection began to spread, instead of flowing out through her nostrils the infection had no where to go but to her brain. The purpose of the surgery, which required a piece of Olivias skull be removed, was to clean out the infection.
The doctors later told Olivia’s mom and dad that had she come in earlier that day they may have sent her home because the infection had not spread yet, they would have treated her for a minor sinus infection. Had mom and dad not reacted so quickly when Olivia’s symptoms turn to the worst, she may not have survived! Olivia was under Gods watchful eye! Had the paramedics brought Olivia to Gotleib Hospital as originally directed but turned away because they were full, there may not have been a neurologist and anesthesiologist in the emergency room. These doctors who just happened to be in the ER at the time examined Olivia and recognized the seriousness of her condition, they quickly sent Olivia to surgery. By the grace of God Olivia was being treated by the best of the best team of doctors who knew what to do for someone in Olivia’s condition.
Upon under going extensive brain surgery and the trauma to her body, Olivia rested quietly in her Pediatric Intensive Care room. Mom and dad continued their vigil by her side. Her sister Elizabeth, her grandparents and other close family members and friends continue to pray.
Days became nights, nights became days Christmas came and was gone as Olivia slept peacefully allowing her body to heal. The doctors were very concerned and made no promises, they said to pray!
Scans and tests continued to monitor Olivias progress, the first 24 hours were critical, tests results began to come back showing no signs of infection and Olivia seemed to be holding her own given the trauma to her system. Remember, Olivia is feisty and never gives up!
After several hours in a deep coma Olivia showed no signs of setbacks, Olivia began to show signs of her fleshy self. She began to show a sign of discomfort when one of the nurses came to examine her, she tried to kick with her leg and her facial expression was that of “get away from me”! The doctors were greatly pleased with this reaction but worried that she may be moving to quickly which could cause a problem. So they continued to monitor her medication to keep her quiet and still.
Doctors and nurses continued to closely monitor Olivia. She was moved from the most intensive care room to the next level of intensive care, which is a good thing!
By Tuesday, the doctor began to slowly reduce medication to reduce the intensive comatose state Olivia was in. The doctor asked Olivia to stick out her tongue and low and behold she did! Mom, dad, Elizabeth and the doctors were elated. Olivia began to show signs of responding to given directions. Olivia continued to receive heavy dosages of antibiotics, fluids and a feeding tube.The doctors began to realize Olivia is going to survive, they were amazed with her progress after a few long days of treatment.
Olivia began responding to requests to open her eyes, squeeze mom or dad’s hand and eat small bits of soft food. After a while it was obvious Olivia was showing shows of “please leave me alone I want to sleep” Again, this was a good thing!
It was decided that Olivia undergo a sinus procedure to make sure all signs of infection are clear, the procedure was successful.
Olivia is on the road to recovery she will need Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy to regain all her normal skills.
Yes, Olivia is a fighter
- Courtney Faulhaber
- Tracy Aller
- Vida Vincent
- Renae Smith
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