Veronica Olenski Caroline Lloyd
Veronica Olenski 1998-
Marital Status: Greg Michaels
Occupation: Doctor, Gynaecologist at Erinsborough & District Hospital
After treating trainee athlete Caitlin Atkins for exhaustion, Dr Veronica Olenski was on hand again some months later when potential triathlete Joel Samuels was trapped under a car and almost drowned during a freak accident. Dr Olenski was forced to inform him that he had done some damage to the ligaments in his knee and it could ruin his career just as it was beginning. After a couple of weeks in hospital, he underwent an operation on the joint, and afterwards, was told that he would need further reconstructive surgery and intensive physiotherapy just to be able to walk on it properly, but it was unlikely that he’d ever be able to compete in triathlons again. A few months later, Dr Olenski treated Craig ‘Pinhead’ Pinders, after he was involved in a car accident and spent a few days in a coma. And the following year, Dr Olenski was responsible for the care of Libby Kennedy and Brendan Bell when they were involved in a road accident – though Libby’s injuries seemed to be the most serious, she slowly made a full recovery, while Brendan suddenly passed away a few days after the crash.
As 2001 came to a close, Dr Olenski helped Libby again, this time when she went into labour. It had been a difficult pregnancy, as her injuries from the crash the year before meant that it was extremely dangerous for her to carry a baby to full term. Though the baby was delivered safely, Libby suddenly went into cardiac arrest. After being rushed into theatre, Libby survived and again, made a full recovery. In 2003, Dr Olenski continued her work on the maternity ward, helping to deliver baby Oscar Scully and, the following year, performed fertility tests on Steph and Max Hoyland, who were struggling to conceive. Initial tests showed that, due to cancer treatment the year before, Steph may have had irregularities in her uterus, but further tests concluded that Max’s low sperm count was the problem. Several months later, Max and Steph decided to adopt instead and met pregnant single mother, Kayla, whose baby, Ashley, was delivered by Dr Olenski, but ultimately the adoption fell through when she decided that she wanted to keep her child.
A few months after their adoption disappointment, Steph started having unusual symptoms and became worried that her cancer had returned. Following some blood tests performed by Dr Olenski, it was discovered that Steph was pregnant. During the difficult pregnancy, Steph’s cancer did return, but she refused to have treatment and, following the delivery of baby Charlie by Dr Olenski, she was rushed in for an emergency operation followed by several weeks of radiotherapy treatment.
Later in 2006, Dr Olenski was also on hand to inform teenage Sky Mangel that she was expecting a baby and, a few weeks later, was also responsible for the care of pregnant Izzy Hoyland, ultimately giving away the secret that she was expecting when she phoned the Hoyland house and left a message about an ultrasound appointment with Susan Kinski. Izzy left town that same day, but Sky remained and suffered through a difficult pregnancy, culminating in a dramatic birth for little Kerry when Sky’s hospital roommate Teresa Cammeniti, obsessed with a baby of her own, set fire to the hospital while Sky was in labour, desperate to cause a distraction and get her hands on the baby. With Sky's labour so advanced, Dr Olenski was forced to complete delivery with the smoke rising around them, before rushing them all out to another wing of the hospital.
Six months later, Dr Olenski was treating another Ramsay Street resident when Pepper Steiger found out that she had stage 2 cervical dysplasia. Though Pepper and her boyfriend, Adam were deeply worried, particularly when the word cancer was mentioned, Dr Olenski insisted that it was a simple procedure and she should have nothing to worry about, but they would need to keep a close eye on her with regular tests for a while. A few days later, Pepper went into hospital, where Dr Olenski performed the procedure with no problems, only informing her that she would have to refrain from any intimate acts with Adam for a month. A few weeks later, when Susan started having dizzy spells, her concerned husband Karl immediately made an appointment with Dr Olenski, who diagnosed her as suffering the early effects of the menopause, though it later turned out that she was actually suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
When Carmella Cammeniti suffered terrible stomach pains a few months into her pregnancy, she was rushed to hospital where Dr Olenski performed an ultrasound and insisted that there was nothing to be alarmed about. With Carmella's business partner Marco Silvani in the room, she then told the mother-to-be that she was having a girl, a piece of information which Marco then accidentally broke to the baby's father, Oliver Barnes when he visited. Then, 35 weeks into the pregnancy, Carmella suddenly went into premature labour and was rushed to hospital. Though Dr Olenski thought that the baby was big enough to be delivered safely, further scans showed that it was in distress and would need to be delivered by C section. The operation was a success, but Carmella and Oliver were distressed to learn that their daughter was having trouble breathing and would have to be kept in a humidicrib in the neonatal unit. After a few days, the baby, who had been named Chloe, started to breathe unaided, and Dr Olenski happily reunited mother and daughter, offering advice to Carmella and her sister, Rosie, who had been put off having children of her own by recent events.
Only a few weeks later, Rosie was alarmed to discover that she was pregnant and struggled with the news, almost causing irreparable damage to her marriage to Frazer, who desperately wanted to be a dad. After Frazer told her that he wanted the child, and would raise it along if necessary, Rosie started to accept what was happening and, over the weeks that followed, grew excited about the prospect of motherhood. As the pair went along for their first scan, however, Dr Olenski brought bad news when she struggled to find the baby's heartbeat and admitted that she couldn't find a baby. She explained to a devastated Rosie that the symptoms were pointing to a false pregnancy, a condition which fooled a woman into thinking that she was expecting a child. Though Frazer accepted the diagnosis, Rosie struggled to believe it, convinced that she was still pregnant, but eventually agreeing to go back to the hospital to have the growth removed. Whilst there, Frazer asked if there was any chance at all that Rosie could still be pregnant, and Dr Olenski admitted that it was possible, though extremely rare, but offered another ultrasound to put her mind at rest, during which she discovered the heartbeat and told an elated Rosie and Frazer that they were going to be parents after all.
Towards the end of 2008, Dr Olenski performed an ultrasound on Sam Fitzgerald, who had just returned to town to break the news to ex-husband Dan that she was having his baby. During the ultrasound, Dan arrived, and much to Sam's displeasure, he'd brought along Libby, who he was due to marry.
A couple of weeks later, Dr Olenski was visiting Libby, who had been hospitalised after an accident during a school rafting excursion, to discuss IVF treatment, due to Libby's slim chances of being able to conceive again after Ben, who Veronica had delivered. As Veronica left the room, she bumped into Libby's best friend Steph, whose son Charlie she had also delivered. As Veronica dropped her paperwork, she admitted that she was having a difficult day, as her husband had left her for another woman. Feeling guilty, Steph explained that it was her who her husband, Greg, had been sleeping though, but insisted that she hadn't known he was married at the time. Not willing to listen to any excuses, Veronica lashed out, slapping Steph and storming off. Their next meeting came as Steph joined the Breast Cancer Awareness Committee at the hospital, arriving to find Veronica as chairperson. As Steph tried to keep her head down, the two women once again exchanged harsh words outside the meeting, with Veronica accusing Steph of undermining her in her workplace. Things then took a dramatic turn when young Charlie was injured at the garage, and Veronica was forced to treat him at the hospital. A ceasefire was called between the two women, but Veronica was upset when she went outside to find Steph, needing her permission for a CT scan, and found her in Greg's arms.
At the next board meeting, the atmosphere was still frosty, but Steph suggested a fundraising fashion parade, using the players from the local Eastside Dingoes football team, and Veronica was forced to concede that it was a good idea. But, still angry, Veronica decided to freeze her joint bank accounts with Greg, leaving him without a home or money to pay for a hotel, and forced to turn to Steph. As plans for the fashion show continued, Steph arrived at one of the meetings and took Veronica to one side, telling her that she was being unfair in freezing his access to their money. Veronica refused to listen, pointing out that it was also unfair of Steph to steal her husband, and the women got into another argument. At the fashion show, as Steph and Greg walked in arm in arm, it was the final straw for Veronica, who lashed out at Steph. But Steph grabbed her arm, stopping her from slapping her for a second time, instead being pushed over as she turned her back. Furious, Steph lunged at Veronica, the two woman being held apart. Outside, Veronica was made to realise that she should have just kept quiet, rather than causing a scene and ruining the charity event. Later, she called by Steph's house to apologise to Greg and ask him for a final chance. Though he turned her down, Steph could see that he was torn, and told him to go home and resolve things with his wife. He went with her, but spent the night on the sofa, before returning the next day to tell Steph that she was the one he wanted to be with. Though Steph and Greg tried to make the relationship work, his jealousy of her male friends ended up tearing them apart.
A few months later, Susan was planning to be a surrogate for daughter Libby, who, following a miscarriage and hysterectomy, was unable to have another child of her own. Though Susan had researched the issue and knew that pregnant might actually help to reduce her MS symptoms, both her husband Karl and Dr Olenski warned her that the emotional and physical strain could cause a serious relapse after the birth. Despite Karl's misgivings, he and Susan, along with Libby and husband Dan, began the psychological screenings, though the situation soon became complicated when it was splashed over the front page of the local newspaper, causing outrage and leading to the hospital considering blocking the procedure. Veronica later took Karl to one side and, off the record, explained to him that the hospital wasn't happy with the media attention, particularly since Karl worked there and it looked like Susan was getting preferential treatment. She also agreed with Karl that hospital CEO Brian Rode was dead against any form of IVF, deeming that it was 'playing God', and offered to help him fight it, but Karl insisted that it was his family and he didn't want anyone else to lose their job if it all blew up in their faces.
The following week, Dr Olenski helped to treat newborn Baby Napier, who was having breathing difficulties following a difficult birth at a music festival. With the baby's condition improving, her mother Bridget wasn't allowed to walk to the neo-natal unit until she'd recovered from the birth, so her friends got a wheelchair and took her there to be introduced to her new daughter. And a few hours later, Dr Olenski brought the new baby down to Bridget's hospital room for her first cuddle. Meanwhile, the IVF dramas continued, with the hospital refusing to go ahead with the treatment and a protest of angry mums arriving at the hospital. When Brian was shown a photograph of him threatening new mum Bridget, he eventually backed down and agreed to allow the surrogacy to continue, and treatment began. The following week, Susan attended an appointment where Veronica implanted Libby's egg inside her, and then the wait began to see if it had been a success. Everyone was delighted when Susan learnt that she was pregnant, and, despite some tension in the family, they all came together for Susan's first scan, at which they found out that she was having a boy. Sadly, only weeks later, Susan miscarried the baby after a fall.
• Click here to read our interview with Caroline Lloyd
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Biography by Steve