Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - University of Virginia - 7


Lisa's Story

Oct. 3, 2014, started out like any other
busy day for Lisa Black of Scottsville, Va.
After getting her kids off to school, she
headed to UVA Children's Hospital,
where she works as a schoolteacher for
hospitalized youngsters. She left work
about 7 p.m. to pick up her daughter.
When she drove around a bend of a
Fluvanna County road, she never saw
the car that hit her head-on.
It took paramedics more than an hour
to cut her out of the wreckage. In excruciating pain and unable to move, Black
thought about her husband and her two
children, then ages 8 and 12. "I prayed
as hard as I could, out loud, and just
begged to stay alive," she says. She could
hear her cellphone ringing from the
floorboards, knowing it was her daughter wondering where she was.
When the 41-year-old avid runner-
who had been training for a race-arrived
by ambulance at the UVA Emergency
Department, she was, in her words,
"a broken mess." The accident caused a
collapsed lung, a broken left thigh bone,
a shattered right knee, a dislocated left
knee, a broken collarbone, multiple
broken ribs, four fractures in her neck,
two fractures in her back and a crushed
right hand.

The Critical Moments

The skilled team at the UVA Trauma
Center immediately gathered around
her and prioritized what had to be
fixed first. "Dr. [David] Weiss took
care of my right leg and Dr. [Winston]
Gwathmey took care of my left leg,"
Black recalls. "Dr. Weiss had to put
plates and screws in my right leg.

Dr. Gwathmey put a rod in my left leg
and used cadaver parts to repair the
ligaments in my left leg."
Spine surgeon Anuj Singla, MD,
was able to stabilize her neck and back
injuries without surgery. Hand surgeon A. Rashard Dacus, MD, rebuilt
her hand. Vascular surgeon Margaret
Tracci, MD, was able to treat a partial
tear in her neck artery without having
to do surgery.
"The doctors at UVA were amazing," Black says. "I remember I was just
so afraid at the time, and looking back
on it now, the care that I received was
incredible and so well planned. I also
loved the nursing staff. They took really,
really good care of me, washing my hair
and just making sure I had everything
I needed."
Once stable enough to leave the hospital, Black had to first go to a nursing
home. For the first month at home, her
husband and UVA Continuum Home
Health Care staff provided round-theclock care. Two months would pass
before she could bend her legs or her
neck brace could come off. Despite
her injuries, Black focused not only
on walking again, but also on running. "Right after the accident, when
I couldn't even feel my legs, Dr. Weiss
and Dr. Gwathmey would reassure me
and say, 'You will run again.' Dr. Weiss
even set up water therapy for me,
which was amazing."
Adds Gwathmey: "Patients like Lisa
are why we become orthopedic doctors.
In the blink of an eye, her life is taken
away through no fault of her own. But
Lisa, the moment she woke up from surgery, had a huge smile on her face and
was grateful for what we had done."

Lisa Black, a schoolteacher at UVA Children's Hospital, was fortunate to survive the Friday
evening that an impaired driver hit her car head-on. Once she healed, Black teamed up with
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and now speaks to students and police officers. "There are
more drunk-driving accidents on Friday night," Black says. "So I go on Fridays to speak to
police officers just before their shifts. I share my story and try to encourage them to get these
impaired drivers off the roads."

VIDEO

Lisa and Her
Trauma Team
Meet Lisa Black and the UVA
healthcare team that repaired
her broken body. Go to uva
health.com/lisablackstory.

Finding Motivation

Black gave her all to recovering. "One of
my biggest goals was to be able to sit in
the small chairs again so I could work
with my preschool and kindergarten
students on their level," she says. "My
physical therapist had a tiny stool. I'd
sweat and almost cry, but I worked very
hard to get onto that stool so that I knew
I'd come back to serve the children here
at UVA."
In the hospital, she'd draw on her students for inspiration. "I'd be having a bad
day, sitting there crying, and then they
would walk through the door. I thought,
how can I possibly be sad, seeing these
amazing children, who have cancer, come
downstairs to see me and knowing what
they're going through, and what their
families are going through? So I knew
at that point, I had to get back here no
matter what, for those kids."
One of the hardest parts of recovery for Black was missing out on being
a mom. "Knowing that my children
needed me and I couldn't be there for
them was one of the biggest struggles
that I had," she says.
Although dealing with some pain and
stiffness, Black is surpassing even her
doctors' expectations and is once again
a busy working mom, training for a
5K run and enjoying playing the piano.
"Looking back," she says, "I think what
a blessing it is to have this hospital right
here in my backyard." n
W INT E R 2 01 6

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http://uvahealth.com/lisablackstory http://uvahealth.com/lisablackstory

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - University of Virginia

Contents
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - University of Virginia - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - University of Virginia - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - University of Virginia - Contents
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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2016 - University of Virginia - Cover3
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