Vivi No Limits

This is Viviana

We like to compare Viviana, the extraordinary woman that you will get to know in the following passage, to a Scotch broom: a shrub which, although exposed to the destructive fury of nature, proves to be flexible and resistant – using Leopardi’s metaphor, it is when everything seems destroyed that the Scotch broom begins its heroic (r)existence.

It is from the concept of rebirth that we want to start to tell you this story that lives on analogies; Viviana has delineated her intentions for her existence since the month in which she was born, the month of March, the month in which nature awakens – those born under its stars will always be a soul ready for rebirth. As in all stories, this one too has a before and after. A before that’s difficult to remember and intense to think about, and above all, that would never return. Viviana was born in Milan, a free spirit and wandering soul, always a lover of adventures and with courage to spare. Her dynamic nature immediately led her to make the world her home, her change her reason for living. Viviana the woman, Viviana the manager, Viviana the mother, Viviana the partner… Viviana. What could possibly break her? What could possibly stop her?

 It’s March 3, 2021, she’s in Fuerteventura, together with Gianluca, her partner. Like every morning, Viviana gets up early and goes to do yoga. She comes home and realizes that something is wrong, a pain in her back, she tries to rest, but the pain doesn’t go away. Viviana is delirious, she has a fever, she is sure that it is not something to be underestimated, she knows that it is a kidney stone. She and Gianluca decide to go to the clinic for a check-up. She is in a confused state, she doesn’t really know what’s happening to her and the doctors don’t recognize the ongoing colic. They pump her full of painkillers, she spends the night in the clinic, and they discharge her the next day.

The pain continues, the fever is always high, she is no longer in control of her body.

 A day has already passed since she was discharged, Gianluca doesn’t recognize her and decides to call the ambulance to take her back to the clinic. Four hours after their arrival, the doctors recognized that Viviana had developed sepsis. Viviana must be urgently transferred to another hospital. In these cases, every minute, every hour is fundamental, but when she arrives at the hospital, they don’t decide to operate on her immediately, but rather to redo all the tests to confirm her diagnosis.

Another 5 very long hours pass and only at that point are they able to operate on her to remove the stone from the urethra where it had caused an obstruction. She wasn’t finished, the hardest part was yet to come. The operation was successful, but during it her vital organs had failed. A race against time, a race to keep her alive. Neurotrophins coursing through her veins. A struggle between life and death. Her family members were told that she would not survive the night.

And it is from this moment that her life will never be the same again.

What the doctors perhaps didn’t consider sufficiently, is that in that operating room, in that bed, although helpless and anaesthetized, a strong heart was beating, Viviana’s heart was beating!

A platelet transfusion is not given, anticoagulant drugs are not given, yet another mistake: her limbs entered necrosis. She is in a coma, days pass, but his situation does not change. At night, with an air ambulance, she is transferred to another hospital, without even notifying her family. When Viviana wakes up, she is completely alone, no doctor, no assistance, no family member, but above all unable to speak due to the tracheotomy. Covid certainly didn’t make things easier at that moment.

Hard, heavy days, inaccessible departments, not having anyone near, neither the smile of her son Tristan nor Gianluca’s hand to hold and a lot of anger. Finally, after days and so much pain and many requests, she manages to see her family again and with them she decides to leave Spain and return to Italy to continue her treatment. She looked at her hands and her mummified feet, she no longer felt they were part of herself.
A medical plane flies towards Bologna and in her heart, there is a lot of hope. She already knew what her fate would be, a quadruple amputation, a difficult solution to accept, but that was the compromise that she had to accept to stay alive and fight with all her strength.

In her hands and feet, her life, lifeblood no longer flowed. Before the operation they were part of her body, but she no longer felt them. It is difficult to accept this condition, difficult to fall asleep knowing that you have parts of your body and wake up and no longer find them. Your feet allow you to get everywhere, but true wealth is in your hands. Since we were children, we entrust our knowledge to our hands, to our touch, to the sensations that they transmit to us.

How would you deal with the daily actions that everyone considers trivial in their absence?

It is from Sant’Orsola Hospital in Bologna that the aftermath of this story begins; a new life, reborn from the ashes to collect all the pieces that were left, and to rebuild a new world for oneself.

It is in the smile and reassurance of her family, but also of the doctors and paramedics that Viviana begins to live again.

The following days marked by becoming aware of no longer having one’s autonomy and limbs.

During those days in hospital, the desire to get back into the game grows more and more – the first step is to return to walking, without legs.

She starts looking for orthopaedic centres that do rehabilitation and training in the use of the prosthetics; many consultations, many faces, but the spark never struck. It all seemed so difficult. Every orthopaedic technician was certain that she should start with practicing the use of upper limb prosthetics.

In all this chaos, perhaps by chance, or perhaps by fate, Viviana heard about an orthopaedic centre in Sicily that could help solve her dilemma – we, ROGA, were that centre.

Thus began Viviana’s experience at our centre, with an initial imprinting with Rosario, our technical director – a spark goes off from the first moment and a promise is made: before anything, Viviana will walk again.

It’s July and everyone at our centre awaited Viviana in the sultry Sicilian heat, we were curious to meet the woman that Rosario had told us all about.

The wait was soon over, and Viviana was with us, and for 4 very long and tiring months, she would remain with us.

Together with her and Gianluca, we rejoiced at each of her successes and shared her pain, which in the end had also become ours. It was now normal to see them in the corridors, in the various boxes, or in reception telling us about themselves and their days.

Viviana overwhelmed our centre like a hurricane, she brought strength and energy. It wasn’t easy for her to have to re-learn to walk, to have to move and slowly take back at least part of her life. Living without one limb is difficult, but living without four is a gargantuan challenge that only a woman like Viviana can accept and tackle.

Viviana arrived to us in a wheelchair in July, and left us – her new family, in her own words – by November, on her new legs, walking and smiling brightly (albeit hidden by masks) as she left all of us and the community of friends around at our centre, for the first time.

Today, Viviana no longer lives the life of before, but she lives her life of tomorrow, which is yet to be discovered.

We want to close this story of life with the words she wrote for all of us who followed her on her Instagram on the first birthday of her new life:

“Exactly one year ago I lay helpless in a hospital bed with no hope of waking up and not knowing if I could overcome the tragedy that had suddenly turned my life, and that of all my loved ones, upside down.

I made it out, although not without visible and terrible consequences unfortunately.
Whatever your challenge, it won’t have my epilogue, and yet we have something in common.
I believe that all people who face illness and suffering share the same desire and fears, and have the opportunity to draw some fundamental lessons from their experience – if they manage the challenge with awareness.

That’s why I would like to share my personal “lessons”, hoping they can serve as inspiration.

Just think about how you will get through it all, but take it one day at a time; focus on practical things, but nourish yourself with every dose of affection that is given to you; abandon yourself to the experience, but never give up; take advantage of the opportunity to reorder priorities and affections, there is no better time to do so; work on introspection: you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you deal with it – and this will give you a lot of strength; even if now only the “after” exists, don’t be in any hurry to get there – you don’t decide the timings and events, you cross them like a ship at sea, some days will be serene and others stormy; keep your curiosity alive; your body and your mind are not enemies, and even if they seem fragile to you now, they hide an incredible inner strength, an amazing ability to adapt.

Observe them carefully, in this moment you are a spectator; don’t close yourself off to others, they are a fundamental part of your success: every thought, prayer, meditation and intention addressed to you will give you unimaginable support and help.

Love becomes tangible energy when it is given generously. Believe me! I owe a lot to those who have always been close to me.

I conclude with a thought that my twenty-one-year-old son shared with a friend when a light appeared at the end of the tunnel:

“This year, I learned that inside us exists the strength to face anything.”