A moment in time can change everything – just ask Lisa Black.
On October 3, 2014, Lisa was driving to pick up her children from school, idly wondering about also picking up Chinese takeout.
In the next instant, her life was turned upside down. A drunk driver hit her head on.
The next thing she remembers is waking up pinned in her destroyed vehicle feeling as if her body was on fire.
She does not remember much about the crash itself. But she does remember thinking about how she would not be able to be there for her two children and her family—about how her life was about to be over or at the very least change drastically. Wondering if she would make it, Lisa fought for her life as she thought about her children.
“I can’t die. I have to be there for them (her children). They’re my world,” she told herself.
Lisa was a school teacher for 23 years. The officer, who worked with a team for more than an hour to extract her from her demolished vehicle, happened to be a former student, whom she taught in the 3rd grade. This was a useful coincidence, as it allowed the officer to call her husband immediately to let him know about the crash.
She was admitted to the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center, where they performed multiple surgeries to rescue her. Lisa arrived at the hospital with a tibial plateau fracture, which is one of the most critical loadbearing areas in the human body. Fractures of the plateau affect knee alignment, stability, and motion. Early detection and appropriate treatment of these fractures are critical for minimizing patient disability and reducing the risk of documented complications, particularly posttraumatic arthritis.
The injury required two plates and 10 screws, an external fixator placed on her right leg, and ligaments rebuilt in her left leg using cadaver parts. An external fixation device may be used to keep fractured bones stabilized and in alignment. The device can be adjusted externally to ensure the bones remain in an optimal position during the healing process. External fixation is a method of immobilizing bones to allow a fracture to heal. External fixation is accomplished by placing pins or screws into the bone on both sides of the fracture. The pins are then secured together outside the skin with clamps and rods. The clamps and rods are known as the “external frame.”
She also had multiple broken ribs, four fractures in her neck, two fractures in her back, a dissected artery in her neck, a broken left femur, as well as multiple broken bones in her right hand.
Lisa was placed in a nursing home upon discharge from the hospital as she was not well enough to have rehab immediately. Once Lisa was home she had around-the-clock care from her husband and home health. Eventually Lisa was able to go to outpatient therapy five days a week for many months to learn how to walk again and was able to get back to her life slowly but surely.
Just six months following this horrible tragedy, thanks to motivation from her family, Lisa walked her first 5k at Walk Like MADD in Virginia.
But Lisa wasn’t satisfied. She set a goal of regaining the ability to run again. The doctors at UVA were skeptical, but they encouraged her to pursue that dream.
Today, she can run. MADD is thankful for her decision to use her story to inspire others. Lisa annually participates in Walk Like MADD. She speaks at universities, schools, and with law enforcement programs to let officers know they truly are making a difference with their efforts against drunk driving.
“I still fight with pain on a daily basis,” Lisa said, “But I tell myself I’m not going to sit on the sidelines. I’m going to get back in the game. And that’s what I did!”