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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Paige Oldfield

'I was working as cabin crew and as a model. A violent ex changed everything'

An air hostess with a modelling career and a beautiful baby girl, those around Diana Olijar thought she had the perfect life.

But injuries sustained during a horrific attack by a former partner changed all of that forever – leaving her bedbound with a condition so severe it could have caused an internal decapitation.

The 34-year-old, from Fallowfield, now spends much of her time lying in a dark room due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), an illness which affects her skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs and bones. The pain is so debilitating, even small tasks like making a cup of tea feels impossible.

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Diana told the Manchester Evening News she had been working as a member of cabin crew for Thomas Cook Airlines when she suffered a spinal injury in an attack in 2012.

At first her symptoms were more subtle, namely dizziness, migraines and neck pain. For years she was told by doctors that the mostly likely cause was fatigue and that she probably needed a 'good night's sleep'.

Diana before she became ill (Diana Olijar)

Yet her symptoms became more numerous and severe. Her vision and hearing began to deteriorate and her joints would dislocate at random.

In 2018, Diana finally received a diagnosis of EDS and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a type of dysfunction of the nervous system. She believes the late diagnosis came down to a lack of understanding about the condition.

“All I heard from medical professionals was that it was just a trauma reaction and that I needed rest and sleep,” she told the Manchester Evening News . “They said it would get better with time, but it was getting progressively worse until I got diagnosed.

“I’ve not talked about it for a long time because of the shame of what I’ve experienced. My whole life is basically medical care and trying to get better. I’m not managing anything. I know there is a long way to go and a lot of treatments ahead of me.”

Diana before she became too ill to work (Diana Olijar)

The debilitating conditions triggered by the trauma Diana suffered mean her neck cannot support the weight of her own head, resulting in severe pain, headaches and blurred vision. The instability of Diana's neck means she now has to wear a collar and use a wheelchair when she leaves the house.

Following a desperate appeal for help, the mum-of-one set up a fundraiser last year to have a craniocervical fixation privately, a bone operation where the skull connects to the spine.

While the surgery saved her spine and brainstem from becoming damaged, Diana now needs to raise £100k for a second operation to untether her spinal cord to secure her independence in the future.

Diana now has to use a wheelchair (Diana Olijar)

“I’m working at addressing what is happening with my body because the condition has been progressing,” Diana continued. “It’s for medical treatment and legal fees.

“I remain positive and I trust that there will be someone who can help me through it. I hope I can get better enough to go back to any employment so I can provide for my 14-year-old daughter. It’s important to bring awareness to the situation and the condition.

Diana and her daughter, who is now 14 (Diana Olijar)

“I believe I can regain a normal quality of life, the ability to provide for my family and once again be the parent my child deserves. As of now, I rely on a wheelchair and struggle on a daily basis, and this is heartbreaking for us both.

“I really hope someone can help. At this point, I have a crippling debt due to medical bills. I still need so much treatment. I strongly believe, that with the right medical care, including aggressive stem cells therapy, I can recover and be the mother my child so desperately needs and deserves.”

To donate, follow the link by clicking here.


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