Lisa Chandler… Sitting but never still.
August 16th 2006, sunny morning around 11am, I was up on a roof inspecting an air conditioning unit we installed a week before. I was startled by a mother squirrel, who was equally startled. She charged at me on instinct, protecting her babies. I stumbled back and lost my footing starting a nice barrel role down the 3 story roof. My roll turned into a face down, fast paced slide right for the gutter, my attempts to slow my decent failed. When my hip hit the gutter I managed to flip my body right side up. I continued my fall down till my feet hit the ground and I collapsed to my knees and then my belly. I lay there dazed, replaying what had happened for a few minutes then checked for broken bones or anything unusual. Momma squirrel still sitting facing me from on top of the roof. Not noticing anything apparently wrong I got up and walked down to my office in the basement. Some time later I noticed my legs, which had become increasingly numb, began to feel as if they were falling asleep. I notified my boss about my fall and we decided I should take the rest of the day off. Around 2am I was called into another job site. As I walked around I noticed my back became more and more painful, my legs had a hard time supporting my weight. The next morning I called my boss to explain my worsening condition and we agreed I see a doctor at the local clinic. He took x-rays and did some coordination tests, nothing too fancy. After examining the x-rays he told me he did not see any breaks or fractures in my back nor legs. His prognosis was sprains across the board and prescribed some heavy duty muscle relaxers, pain medication, and physical therapy. I left his office straight to the physical therapy office. That night (2nd night) I woke to a puddle of urine, which startled me. I shook it off as just a side effect from exhaustion and medications. My legs continued to become more painful and useless. I held onto walls and ledges to get down hallways. The next day when I urinated on myself again, this time fully awake, I decided to tell the physical therapist. She immediately told the doctor who then informed me I needed to see a neurologist as soon as possible. I called to obtain preauthorization for a neurologist my doctor had recommended. My fall was on Wed, it was now Friday, and we were unable to get preauthorization and therefore had to wait until Monday. The weekend was rough, things got worse, I was unable to stand on my own anymore, my legs felt like they were on fire, my back ached, and I was now urinating whenever wherever. Monday came and still no preauthorization, so my doctor told me just call 911 and get to the hospital. EMT’s came and strapped me to a board for 13 hours, took all sorts of imaging, and fluid samples.It was evident at this point my fall had done something horrible to my body. The neurologist finally came in and told me I sustained a spinal cord injury when I fell… the shock was overwhelming. The majority of my paralysis was caused because I simply walked away from the fall.
It took one full week for my left big toe to finally stop moving voluntarily. I had lost movement below my lower rib cage, including sensation. My plumbing had stopped working and I had a rough time taking deep breaths. I found out I could no longer regulate my temperature and my blood pressure was affected. Both leg spasms so much that nurses and doctors couldn’t keep them bent. It changed my life completely. I went through weeks of doctors contemplating what to do for me at this point, surgery no surgery; they kept me on a liquid diet. I weighed in at just less than 300 pounds that week at the hospital, standing only 5’4, I was extremely obese. I rushed my rehab with the hopes I would get back to my job before they could replace me, but I found myself on the doorstep of my non accessible multi-level town home with a letter of dismissal. Their lawyers found a loophole in the justice system that stated if they changed the job code to match what I had been doing for my entire employment with this company, they could claim I was unable to complete the job requirements. When I got hired I was SUPPOSED to be more of a pencil pusher and less of an actual laborer, if you know me at all you know I can’t sit still.
More about Lisa:
Occupation: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Injury Level: T4-6 Paraplegic
Status (single, married, etc.): single
Siblings: I grew up a military brat with my wonderful sister who married into the life and now lives in Germany.
Children: I have a beautiful, amazing 15 year old daughter who was 8 at the time of my accident. She shows me every day how strong we really are if we simply just put our faces forward and accept.
Hometown: I was born in Southern Florida; the state took custody of all of us. My sister and I were adopted out to my parents when I was just under 3 years old, from there we traveled the world many times over.
Current residence: I currently reside in Salt Lake City, Utah with my daughter.
Education/Degree: I have attended several trade courses and have several certificates, the biggest of course being a BA in Civil Engineering.
Other accomplishment you’re proud of? I have lost over 150 pounds of pure body fat and gotten in shape.
Do you have a mentor? Who? Why? My mentors are all of those amazing people who are faced with adversity and life changing events and never give up faith and hope. They strive for excellence and have accomplished the unimaginable. They do it with grace, poise, and almost always have a goofy smile on their faces.
Favorite band/kind of music/musician: I like all music, just depends on if I like the beat.
Favorite films? Fried Green Tomatoes, The Green Mile, Steel Magnolias, The Blind Side, Forrest Gump, Ghost, good gosh there are just too many to try and list.
Favorite books; favorite authors? Too many to list again, what can I say, nothing beats a rainy day curled up in an old sweatshirt and boxers with a great read.
Favorite magazines? Don’t really do the magazines, but I do subscribe to the PN, Sports-N-Spokes, Abilities, and any other informative magazine discussing SCI stuff.
Favorite restaurant/food? That is soooo easy, Indian and Mexican… BUT NOT the Americanized versions, authentic, authentic, authentic.
Favorite beverage? I’m supposed to say water here, hehe, but nope…. DR. PEPPER all the way. Chai is most definitely a contender though.
Favorite websites? Apparalyzed, Facebook, EBay, Web MD, Etsy, BACKBONES, YouTube
Who do you live with? I live solo with my Niña.
Do you own a car? What make? I use to own a nice Z71 Silverado off roader with a 14 inch lift kit and dual exhaust. I just put some sick rims and great off roaders on months prior to my fall. I sold “big blue” and bought a cute little Honda Element, handicap blue of course…and guess what, I love my little “lulu”
Where did you go on your last vacation? Martha’s Vineyard and Boston, we kind of did a whole New England trip. This was in 2003; think maybe it is time to plan another one.
Do you have a pet? What? I have my two beautiful kitties, both found out in the wild half dead. The oldest is Oaklie, a brown tabby. She is momma kitty, always watching out for us and keeping a vigilant eye on things. Her younger sister (by 6 months) Gigdet, was born with extra toes on her front feet. She is a bit lazy and full of herself but I love her all the same. Both are around 7 years old, hoping I have many loving years left to spoil them rotten. Give me my cuddly kitties over a heated blanket any day!
Do you have your own website? No, but I am going to make a fundraiser page soon to help me achieve my goal of getting to the 2013 Nationals, 2013 Worlds , and the big one 2014 Para’s.
Do you go out much? Where? How often? With whom? I am so busy training; sports and my daughter are the things that fill my days, weeks, and months.
What’s your dream job? Working either as a tennis instructor or Nordic ski instructor, which would allow me to learn a great deal more about my two favorite sports. It would give me the freedom to train and race as much as I need, surrounding myself with a network of people who could help me achieve my greatest goals. Public speaking about the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle and showing through example limitations are brought on by our own judgments.
Do you work out or play any sports? I am actively training, hitting the gym 3 to 4 times a week, I attend spinning classes in the winter and hand cycling in the summer. This last year I picked up two new sports which I participate in as much as possible, tennis year round with a great group of locals. I attend local group coaching lessons, run by some absolutely wicked tennis pro’s, and have attended a couple tennis camps. Nordic skiing is my newest sport, really picking it up last fall, where we train on asphalt till the weather provides snow. Then we hit locally run tracks that are well groomed and provide great access. This last winter was my first time racing; we are so blessed to have such a great group of individuals here in Utah who opened up venues at some of the local races. It has been a real experience this year since each race boasted different weather and snow conditions. We were able to train at several different spots which again gave me much needed experience.
Hobbies? Fishing, camping, kayaking, surfing, alpine skiing, mountain biking, basketball, playing the piano, painting and drawing, watching movies, picnics, taking long drives exploring sites, working with wood, and fixing things. Building and crashing gas powered hobby planes.
Hidden talents? I have played the piano for years, having over 13 years of private lessons with some very well-known instructors. I also like to art, whether it is creating something with metal, wood, paint, or mixed media. I love to get the creative juices flowing from time to time.
What irritates you? I am a planner; I get it from my father. I can be spontaneous but I prefer to stick to some sort of schedule.
What do you consider awesome? The human body, how much we don’t know about it. How it can be broken, fixed, altered, modified. How no two people are even remotely alike, we are all very much unique and therefore beautiful.
Where would you love to live? I like to move around, always exploring new places. There is too much life out there I have yet to see and too many rocks I still want to turn over.
What takes up the majority of your time? My daughter, sports, and training.
What do you do in your free time? Catch up on movies, see how my friends and family are doing, run errands.
What do you wish you had more time for? I would love to have another kid, but I am not sure it is in the cards for me.
If I take a look inside your refrigerator what would I find? Milk and Veggies
Dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you ask them? I don’t know, I learn so much from my friends and random people every day. I would not need to set up a special meeting to learn something new and I find I get the answers to the questions I have without even having to propose the question.
During your child hood what was your favorite cartoon? TinTin, it was a comic book but overseer’s you get what you can get your little hands on. So excited they made a movie, though the comics where better.
How many pairs of shoes do you own? I am a lady so I own more than two but less than 30, I think… Oh now I am going to have to go count…
Favorite original Nintendo game? Pong, oh wait that would be Atari.. Guess I am too old for this question J
Your default karaoke song? Anything CHER……!
Type of gum you like? Minty ones, I am not so big on fruity, speariment, or those ones too big to even fit in your mouth.
A short term goal: Two: To get to XC ski Nationals next year and to play in at least three tennis tournaments this year.
A Long term goal: Two again: To get to the Winter Paralympics in XC skiing and the Summer Paralympics in tennis
Anything else you want to tell us? I say this with all sincerity. I feel truly blessed and humbled by my accident, for without having that horrible life changing event…. Well I would not have had this wonderful life I live today and would not have had the pleasure to have met the most astonishing people in the world. This includes you guys. Cheers.