Now Or Never

One year later, a Winnipeg woman thanks the lifeguard who saved her life

Dianna Rasing got the rare opportunity to thank the young woman who saved her from drowning, exactly one year after it happened.
Dianna Rasing presented Andrea Orobko with a thank-you card and gift for saving her life, exactly a year after it happened. (CBC)

Dianna Rasing got the rare opportunity to thank the young woman who saved her life — exactly one year after it happened.

Rasing was doing laps at Pan Am Pool in Winnipeg on Nov. 21, 2016, when she started to feel "really winded."

"I started feeling numb on my left side. I thought, 'That's weird, did I pinch a nerve in my arm?'"

Dianna Rasing greets lifeguard Andrea Orobko with a hug. (CBC)
Rasing was able to swim to the edge of the pool, but struggled to get out. A lifeguard asked if she needed help, and pulled her out, saying, "I think you're having a stroke, ma'am." Rasing was surprised. She had just celebrated her 39th birthday.

According to Public Health Agency of Canada, about 750,000 Canadian adults live with the effects of a stroke. A quarter of those people are under the age of 65.

For the first few days after her stroke, Rasing couldn't walk. Now she's able to run. But she's not yet ready to swim, due to pain in her shoulder. She's still working on regaining the fine motor skills in her left hand — which is important, since she's a sign language interpreter.

On the anniversary of her stroke, she wanted to reach out to the people who helped her.

"I've accomplished so much in this year, and I feel like if I saved someone I would probably want to know what happened... It seems like an important milestone."

"There's not much you can say to someone who saved your life but 'thank you.'"

So on Nov. 21, 2017, Rasing returned to Pan Am Pool and met the lifeguard who was first on the scene, Andrea Orobko.

She gave her a big hug, a package of lifesavers, and a superhero card. The card was signed by her family, with the message, "Thank you for actually saving my life… because of that, my two boys have a mother still."

Orobko, 23, was touched, but said she was only doing her job.

"We're trained twice a year so we're very familiar with what to do, so I just did what I was trained to do."