ELGIN The survivor this season is Diana Seymour, 32.
Shes not been to Australias Outback or on the television show by the same name She lives just off Elgins Main Street.
Seymour wont get $1 million, but she could use $600,000 for medical bills, a handicapped accessible home and a $10,000 bed that adjusts her position so she can get a full nights sleep. She sets the alarm to awaken her every couple hours to shift her body to prevent bedsores a leading cause of death among paraplegics.
Diana has no feeling from her navel down (where her back was broken), but she feels fortunate to still be alive.
On Oct. 9, surgeons placed a steel rod in her back so she can sit upright. In another surgery, a filter was installed in her body, to screen blood clots from inactivity or bruising.
It could have been a lot worse, said Seymour from her wheelchair. They didnt think I was going to make it to Portland.
Shes referring to the weekend last September when she was fishing the Grande Ronde River with her fianc Todd Culver, 34, to celebrate their engagement.
On Monday, Sept. 18, Diana was found 140 feet down a steep embankment, the victim of a car wreck. She had been there for some 20 hours, gravely injured and hypothermic. Culver died near her.
She was flown by helicopter to a Walla Walla hospital, stabilized and then transferred to Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital in Portland.
She hovered near death in intensive care on a ventilator for 32 days, while her mother Genie stood by in the waiting room.
Gone now are her tracheotomy and feeding tubes and the machines to which she was attached, when her parents arrived from their Nevada home. Shes free of the leg and clam shell body braces she wore while both her collar bones, six ribs and surgeries were healing.
Her parents were initially allowed in only at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to pray a few minutes with their daughter. Some days they could not see her at all.
You couldnt see her ears, her mother said about her swollen head. At one point they were told that if the brain swelling worsened, her skull would have to be opened.
It was just one thing after another, Genie said. Then when you least expect it, something comes along.
Distraught and on her knees, Genie, finally handed her daughter over to God, asking Him to take her if He was going to, but not let her continue to suffer.
Then one day when Genie went in the room, the brain swelling monitor was gone. That particular crisis had passed.
Early in November Genie was told her daughters lower leg would have to be amputated. Genie could not agree to that.
Surgeons reluctantly attempted another procedure.
Ive never seen one like this. the doctor said after removing the bandages. The leg that had lost 80 percent of the muscle was saved.
After rehabilitation at OHSU, Diana returned to Elgin Dec. 19, to begin the struggle to develop the strength and skills for independent living.
I couldnt push my wheelchair, Diana said, but now she is strong enough to do so. I want to get out of it.
A determined Diana was the maid of honor at her sisters wedding Memorial Day Weekend, but she hopes to be able to walk at her sons graduation in three years. Doctors give her a 2 percent chance and she is taking it.
There were a couple more hospitalizations for kidney and bladder infections, for which she is likely to remain susceptible.
On April 14 she returned from another month of rehabilitation to find that the landlord had built her a wheelchair ramp, to allow her to get out for walks. She especially likes going to her son Brandons baseball games.
Her pixie-like, dark eyes sparkle with pride, Hes a great kid. He came through for me when I needed it. Shes told that in the hospital she responded to Brandon like no other. He was the only one who could make her laugh.
This woman who used to spend more than two hours pressing a wedding gown at Craigs Cleaners, can now only fold her own laundry. She cant reach up and over into her standard washing machine or get around the dryer door in the corner.
But Diana, who once owned her own bar, says shes going to live independently again.
Shes already made great strides. She let Brandon have three friends stay overnight. They all had fun taking turns in a wheelie contest in her chair.
Diana cooked them swiss steak. That was a tricky maneuver on a standard range for someone in a wheelchair, unable to reach the controls.
Recently, her relatives located a used front-knob range and a used wheelchair-accessible van for $800. The interior needs to be redone, but the motor and the lift work.
Diana expresses gratitude for each improvement in her life.
She meets her challenges with humor. She said her medical file is so large that they bring it out in a wheelbarrow.
Traveling back on Mothers Day from an appointment in Portland, a state park ranger gave Diana and her mother flowers to observe the special day.
They savor the many such surprises, like gifts ranging from an anonymous $5 from someone in Pendleton to $1,500 from Dianas fathers former employer near Baker City. Someone sent $200 for the family to buy Christmas gifts, and the stack of cards and letters grows.
Many are encouraging, such as that from Jack Jarmon of Joseph who survived being struck by a tree.
Diana in many ways is just like others. She enjoys getting out for a perm. Shes making plans and setting goals.
Her next step is to develop new work skills, maybe by taking computer classes at the nearby college.
Donations toward her front-loading washer and other needs can be made to:
% Leona Pearson
2403 Riddle Road , No. 57
La Grande 97850