TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Archive for April 13, 2015

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest Blogger: Kristin Olliney . . . My Fight: The Reason to Advocate

My Fight: The Reason to Advocate


Kristin Olliney

(presented by Donna O’Donnell Figurski)

Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingIsabella’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is the result of sudden acute encephalitis. However, there was also medical error involved in her care. Given the many factors involved, it is difficult to prove which symptom caused what damage. Due to this, no one will ever be held accountable for what happened. As a result, there are four important reminders that everyone needs to know.

  1. It doesn’t matter where you live. Even in the best city, at the best hospital, with the best doctor, mistakes can happen. I am often told how lucky I am to live in the Boston area because we have access to so many medical facilities. While this is true, not all doctors and care are the same.
  1. Doctors are human. They are people who have studied medicine and, based on their knowledge, give you their opinion. It is not fact. It is opinion. Their opinion is their best guess. This is so important to remember, especially when given a prognosis. Isabella, like many other survivors, was not supposed to make it through the night, and yet she did.

    Kristin Olliney with Isabella 2014

    Kristin Olliney with Isabella 2014

  1. Always follow your gut instinct, especially if something doesn’t seem right. Ask questions. When Isabella first got sick, the Emergency Department wanted to discharge her with a stomach bug. I knew that there was something seriously wrong. I can’t explain how I felt – only that I just knew. I fought and advocated to get Isabella admitted into the hospital. One of Isabella’s specialists was on call, and he trusted my gut instinct. Later in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit), as I watched my child fighting for her life, I was told by him and other doctors that my fighting and advocating saved Isabella. If Isabella had been discharged, she would have died. Always fight and advocate for what you feel is right. You know your child/loved one better than anyone.
  1. Get another opinion. When you are in crisis, there isn’t always time. When things stabilize, seek out another opinion should you and the doctor have a difference of opinion. On this journey, things can change. Opinions differ, treatment options vary, and, if there are fundamental differences, another opinion can help.

    Kristin Olliney & daughter, Isabella  2015

    Kristin Olliney & daughter, Isabella

For me, it is hard knowing that the doctors who cared for my daughter made mistakes. Coming to terms with the fact that no one will ever be held accountable for what happened to Isabella is difficult. I know Isabella is here because I fought and advocated. It is still devastating to know that mistakes could have been prevented. I am sharing this part of our journey in hopes that it will encourage others to continue to fight and advocate for their child/loved one. Against all odds, my amazing miracle is here today, and, for that, I am forever grateful.

To learn more about Kristin and Isabella, please visit Kristin’s website/blog at In An Instant Your Life Can Change Forever – Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts Blog

Thank you, Kristin Olliney.

Any views and opinions of the Guest Blogger are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Kristin Olliney.)

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