It is during our darkest moments that we must see the light.”
I am not sure if Bailey Rae Dougherty is aware of that quote by Aristotle, but it describes — perfectly — how she has been approaching the last six months of her life. And, while I could provide readers with many other inspirational quotes, I ask you to learn of her story, and maybe find inspiration in it, through her actions and resolve.
Dougherty, 29, of Sodus Point, was vacationing with her family in northern New York, specifically Lewis County, last July 5. Around noontime she hopped on the back of an ATV her mom was driving. They were heading along a rural road to get a couple of subs for lunch. Both wore proper helmet gear.
Traveling around a bend they came upon a truck ahead, but from there the details are vague. Why?
Because the next thing Bailey remembers is waking up in a Syracuse hospital. Surgery that initially was to last a couple hours extended first to six, then to 14 hours. Her right leg needed to be amputated at the knee, and her pelvis was fractured.
Later she learned her mom — also her best friend — had died in the accident.
In the blink of an eye life had changed forever.
Initially, the driver of the truck allegedly said the two vehicles collided. He later claimed they didn’t; instead, he said Bailey’s mom had overcompensated, causing the crash.
Bailey has no memory of the crash, and for that she is thankful. Sadly, members of her family, including Bailey’s husband, Hayden, came upon the scene a short time later also on their way to lunch.
With no witnesses, no charges were filed.
Rather than feeling too sorry for herself, Bailey has taken on the challenge of adjusting to a new type of life.
Always an active hiker, skier and biker, she has progressed remarkably fast with physical therapy. Because she was in such good health, she somewhat remarkably has been able to heal physically just as quickly. She was back at work in September.
Emotionally? Well, that’s another story. She and her mom were close. They spoke every day, and it is those general routines and connections being gone that are difficult to handle.
Through an incredible network of unwavering support, though, she is often lifted out of her despair.
Bailey is an art director at a small firm in Rochester. The firm started a Facebook page called Believing in Bailey Rae Dougherty. Not only do people express their support but Bailey uses it as a daily diary of sorts to update people on her progress and as an outlet for her thoughts and feelings.
For now she is learning how to get used to having a prosthetic leg. This is not easy since the initial one is basic and not very flexible at the joints. She hopes to get a high-tech prosthetic in February. It will have a microprocessor and a programmable app. Of course, that involves dealing with insurance companies and, believe it or not, proving she actually needs the leg.
If dealing with this kind of bureaucratic red tape wasn’t enough of a pain, get this: Bailey was transported by Mercy Flight for the 20-minute ride to the Syracuse hospital that fateful July day, a trip for which she was billed $50,000. Insurance will cover only $4,000. She is not the only one experiencing problems with Mercy Flight, which is essentially bankrupting families. Families in Dundee and in Lyons have been profiled recently in local media with similar situations.
Bailey realizes that without Mercy Flight she may have died, but the cost of the flight makes living more difficult. The survivor guilt she deals with in losing her mom is painful enough along — with that prosthetic leg, which is a constant reminder of what was ... and what will be.
Those who know Bailey, however, are amazed at her resilience, perseverance and sense of humor. She admits to needing to cry sometimes, but it is far surpassed by the upbeat and positive energy she displays handling this setback.
She is getting accustomed to the phantom pains, as if her leg is still there, along with adjusting to the looks and stares she gets from strangers and self-esteem levels that have dropped due to some vanity things that have drastically changed.
But she is determined to forge ahead. It is a trait she says she gets from her mom. Recently she and her husband purchased a puppy. It is an Australian cattle dog named “T.J.” — her mom’s initials.
“We are given only one life,” Bailey said, “and I plan to keep living it.”
She added: “I was given a second chance for a reason.”
She reminds herself of how far she has come in a mere six months and says, “It’s been a wild roller-coaster ride. The ups. The downs. The spinning around. But I’m here. I’m somehow trudging through. And I am kicking ass. Thank you to all of you who have stuck by my side. Who have cheered me on. Who have been doing my mama’s work. You all are part of my story and I am forever grateful. So cheers to crushing six months, sometimes gracefully and most often not so gracefully. Looking forward to where I will be in another six.“
If interested in donating to a Gofundme page that has been set up, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/1ougs75uo0 or go online and search for Bailey Rae Dougherty.