Olivia wrote this song expressing her feelings of being left out when she could no longer walk with classmates and friends. She wrote the last verse while at the Royal Children's Hospital during 3 weeks of rehabilitation which was very successful; she got out of the wheelchair and began using a framed walker and is now walking normally. She has recovered but still has a way to go.
Olivia Rose Di Grazia is 12 years old; in 2011 she was looking forward to having the best year of her life. Starting at a new school, Ivanhoe Girls Grammar (IGGS), playing on the under 12’s girls basketball team for the Eltham Wildcats in the Victorian Championship league, she was a key player on her undefeated U11 soccer team at the age of 10 and had advanced to the Intermediate Company at the Children’s Performing Company of Australia (CPCA).
All of that changed on February 14th 2011 when she was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 4 months before her 11th birthday.
Olivia spent a week at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne Australia where she was put on steroids and medication to help control her flare. Unfortunately, she did not respond to the treatment and was readmitted for over a month. Doctors worked really hard to manage Olivia’s condition with normal treatment but had to give her very strong autoimmune drugs to get her symptoms under control. Olivia was most sad because she had to miss out on playing basketball and missed the Total Girl Soccer tournament in Ballarat that she had attended for years.
Time passed and her condition was now under control, the medication and steroids took its toll on Olivia but she showed her determination by returning to her basketball team and filling in on her soccer team after putting on 30kg with fluid and weight gain from the high dose steroids she was taking. This was a very difficult time for her taking medication that made her feel nauseated all the time, her fitness level due to the steroids, weight gain, body changes (stretch marks from sudden weight gain) and knowing that her condition was chronic. She was optimistic that things can only get better and 2012 was going to be a better year.
Olivia started out 2012 feeling well, excited to get back to the things she loves. She was playing Championship basketball, performing with CPCA and looking forward to playing soccer for the Eltham Redbacks and of course playing in the Total Girl soccer tournament.
March 23 2012, Olivia got her braces off, was looking and feeling the best she had since her diagnosis so off to Ballarat for the Total Girl Soccer tournament. Her team won the U13 division playing with the minimum 7 players, most only 11 years old. She injured her ankle from a hard kick but overall was feeling great. She was ready for her new soccer club, but during her first training back she complained of knee pain. She began having a bit of a flare of her Ulcerative Colitis and was put on steroids again which seemed to control the symptoms. What started out as Knee pain (? Growth pain) turned into hip pain, then shoulder pain and then severe ankle pain.
From April 2012 to October 2012 she endured 4 trips to the RCH emergency room and 3 hospitalization's, 2 blood transfusions, 2 colonoscopies, many doctor appointments, blood work, tests and lots of pain and medications. For her 12th birthday in June, Olivia was in a wheelchair as walking become so difficult due to the pain.
Olivia was diagnosed with Arthritis related to her Ulcerative Colitis/Crohn’s disease.
Olivia went from being a very active athletic girl to a wheelchair and again because of steroids and immobility became swollen and gained more weight. She was so sad missing out on all the things she loves, missing her friends and being treated differently. Because of Olivia’s love of singing, her parents encouraged her to write her feeling down and try writing a song about how she was feeling.
INVISIBLE was written by Olivia during her admission in July with the final verse completed while she was admitted for Rehabilitation at the Royal Children’s Hospital to get her out of the wheelchair and walking once again.
Olivia was shown a few chords on the guitar by her singing teacher Maria Pelicano (Sing Out Music School) and a few more chords by a Music Therapy student at the Royal Children’s Hospital and off she went singing it to many at Royal Children’s Hospital including her Rehab team. Upon returning to Ivanhoe Girls Grammar Olivia sang her song to her music teacher, the very talented Mr. Christopher Cox. Mr. Cox then on his own time, generously composed the backing track for Olivia song playing all the instruments. Olivia and Mr. Cox recorded INVISIBLE at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School.
Olivia’s song is now on iTunes (INVISIBLE – Olivia Rose) in which all the proceeds will be donated to the RCH GOOD FRIDAY APPEAL. Olivia has shared her song with many parents and children who suffer from illnesses or bullying and many have said its like Olivia is inside their heads expressing exactly how they feel in song.
Here is Olivia as she sings and performs in her school musical in 2012. She performed while in pain and on medication near the beginning of her illness (the second time). She was very happy for all the makeup on her face as it covered up the effects that Steroids had caused to change her appearance.