Help Dianne Voyage Forward
On July 19, 2020 my life changed in a heartbeat.
June 3, 2021
I am coming up on one year, July 19, 2020, and I don’t know how I feel about it. My life as I knew it that day, is over.
I had been working a 4-day stretch of 12-hour shifts as a surgical physician assistant in Syracuse, New York. This was my dream job. After work I came home to my apartment and sunk into my couch. But, as I looked out the window and saw the beautiful sunset I couldn’t help but want to get a better view and enjoy the warm summer heat. I grabbed a blanket and climbed the ladder up to the roof. I laid up there watching the sun escape beneath the horizon and then as it darkened, admiring the stars take over the sky. Maybe I was still daydreaming as I tried to descend the 15 foot ladder, I slipped on the first step and landed on my back. I laid there in pain for a minute before realizing my fate… I was paralyzed from my chest down.
So much has happened since then. I had fractured my right scapula and punctured a lung during the fall. Apart from the emergent surgery I had to fix my broken neck, I needed chest tubes, a respirator, and then later a tracheotomy. I spent 4 weeks in the ICU in Syracuse – one of which being my 28th birthday, 2 months in intensive inpatient rehab in Boston, required an additional neck surgery and have opted to have 2 nerve transfer surgeries in either forearms in hopes to restore some finger function.
At first every day was hard. Having been diagnosed with type one diabetes at 18 years old, I thought I was well-versed in adversity. But I quickly learned that adversity is something you overcome, struggle is something you endure. I’m going to struggle every single day, that’s not a choice I have. But I do have the choice to struggle with laughter or misery. When you struggle with laughter, days are a little less hard.
This mindset of optimism and perseverance grew through competition and sport. I grew up as a three sport athlete and then went on to play collegiate lacrosse at the D1 level. After college I stayed active, joining a HITT gym, running a marathon, biking and hiking regularly. I definitely have had many obstacles throughout these athletic endeavors but I have a zest for life that drives me forward regardless of temporary setbacks.
Not to mention I have a whole community I know has my back. And that I think might be my biggest saving grace. I may not be able to walk but they will help me stand. As Chris Norton said, “happiness isn’t measured by steps.” It’s measured by the relationships you form and the relationships you keep.
So, one year later and it’s weird to say that I feel okay.
January 5, 2021
Wow has time flown by. In the beginning of November I successfully had my second neck surgery to stabilize my existing anterior construct. I have been working extremely hard ever since to continue to make gains in my strength and function. After a quick break home for Christmas I am back in Boston and returning to nearly 3 hours of therapy a day, 5 days a week. I encourage you all to watch my progress by following my Instagram account “vittysvoyage” as that is my way of saying thank you for all your support. Wishing everyone a safe and healthy new year!
Photo Galleries (1)
August 31, 2021
Many Blessings to you!!!
August 19, 2021
Dianne, I just saw your story on Chronicle. As a surgical PA myself, we both know how challenging, but also rewarding our days can be. Thank you for inspiring us all. You are truly a light, a positive boost in the face of adversity. I’m sure your glove sizes are still saved in the OR, they’re so lucky to have such a bright beautiful provider!
July 29, 2021
Diane, your smile and positive spirit are infectious. You are in our thoughts and prayers!
July 15, 2021
Diane, your strong will and perseverance this past year has been so amazing! Keep up your hard work and know that we are cheering you on every day! Love, The Tierney’s