WITH THE HELP OF CHILDREN'S SPECIALIZED OLIVIA IS WINNING MORE IN LIFE THAN JUST MARATHONS
In August 2015, Olivia was training for the Age Group Triathlon World Championships when she crashed her bike riding at 27 miles per hour. The impact of the crash left Olivia suffering from a broken nose, torn glute, and several strains in her legs.
Her injuries healed with time, but her pain progressively worsened months after the accident. After consulting with physicians, Olivia was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in October 2016, a chronic pain condition in which high levels of nerve impulses are sent to an affected site.
Olivia tried several outpatient therapies and trips to the chiropractor which were ultimately unsuccessful in relieving her chronic pain. Even after months of treatment, she was still unable to do most social or physical activities, and she even had trouble navigating to and from classes at school. She recalls that leaving these outpatient therapy sessions would cause her pain, too, sometimes taking her up to 45 minutes just to walk to her parked car from the facility.
After researching her condition and other avenues for treatment, Olivia learned about the Inpatient Chronic Pain Management Program at Children's Specialized Hospital. While the thought of a four-week hospital stay was intimidating, she knew that the comprehensive team could help her manage the pain.
“Coming into this chronic pain management program, I was searching for a way to get my life back to normal,” said Olivia. “I remember during the initial evaluation they asked me what my goals for the program were and the first thing that I said was that I wanted to race again.”
Olivia shared these goals with her team of physical and occupational therapists, support staff, and more. Her goal was never dismissed. Instead, the team encouraged her to work extra hard, and ensured her they would do everything possible to help her achieve it.
The hard work then began. During her four weeks in the Chronic Pain Management Program, Olivia learned how to move in a way to help her manage the pain so she could reach her full potential.
“I remember my competitiveness coming out during the timed activities like figuring out how to step in and out of the tub and going on my first walk outside,” she said. “I always strived to beat my time from day before and really enjoyed being competitive again.”
Olivia also took part in other activities like swimming and aquatic therapy, which helped her feel connected to life before the accident. She worked tirelessly with her came team to ensure she was strong enough manage the pain.
After a quick four weeks in the inpatient facility, Olivia was feeling better than ever and more in-control of her CRPS. She proudly graduated from the Chronic Pain Management Program and was ready to tackle her senior year of high school.
“During my first few weeks home, it felt good to be back at school,” she said. “I applied to colleges and was able to get back on my bike first time in nine months – I really felt like myself again.”
Her first competition was just after her high school graduation. While she recognized she was not at the same level as before the accident, she qualified for the competition and was able to compete in the next round. Most importantly, Olivia was able to push through her pain with the skills she learned in the Chronic Pain Management Program.
“The more I compete, the better I feel,” she said. “I truly am now in the best shape of my life and physically, I’m feeling really good.”
In 2019, nearly two years after her time in the program, Olivia competed in the Age Group Triathlon World Championships again – the same competition she was training for when she crashed her bike.
Olivia recalls the moments before the competition began, “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t believe I’m actually here!’ It was a parade of emotions to see my parents cheering me on from the sidelines,” she said. “I overcome so much to be able to live out my dream. And that’s when it all hit me – there is no way I would have been able to do it if I weren’t for my time at Children’s Socialized Hospital. They trusted me and believed in me to get back to this!”
Olivia says her time at Children's Specialized Hospital gave her another chance at living life. She regained control of her life and was equipped with the skills to function, manage her chronic pain, and thrive. Since her time in the program, she has graduated high school, competed in triathlons, and earned a degree from a prestigious university.
“I feel eternally grateful that I received the quality of care that I did because it completely transformed how I could live my life. I couldn't imagine a life where I wasn't able to go to school, do everything with my friends, hike up mountains, and race around the world,” she said. “When I got the chance to race at the World Championships, I saw my parents and leaned over the fence and started bawling. It was that moment that I realized how far I had come and this chance to live out my dreams. That was all thanks to the treatment I received at Children’s Specialized.”