Running the route to recovery

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kimberly Mueller
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

After injuries to both her knees and wrists, Lt. Col. Lisa Haik, 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron chief nurse, is training in preparation for a marathon spanning 26.2 miles coming this October.

The marathon will be less than a year following an accident Haik and her family were in, her family suffering little to no injury.

“On December 22, I was driving to North Carolina with my husband, two kids and our dog,” said Haik. “Eleven and a half hours into the 12-hour drive, I was on a small country highway in North Carolina when a drunk driver blew past a stop sign.

“I saw him at the last second. I slammed on the brakes, I slammed on the horn, and I hit him doing 55 miles per hour. My vehicle rolled multiple times and ended up upside down facing the opposite direction of what we were traveling.”

After her car had stopped moving, Haik and her family crawled out of the vehicle from the rolled down windows.

“Almost immediately, I realized I couldn't stand up; I couldn't bear weight on my leg,” said Haik. “Both of my knees were injured; one had hit the steering column and one had hit the center console, so one had a broken kneecap and the other had a severe bone bruise.”

Haik spent a few weeks on crutches for her knees to recover, however that wasn’t her only injury.

“I also had a sprained wrist from laying on the horn, the jar from the steering wheel and the airbag deploying,” said Haik. “My wrists were killing me, so being on crutches made it very difficult to get around. Fortunately, I came off the crutches just before the January Unit Training Assembly and I was able to hobble around with a knee brace.”

The accident left Haik barely able to walk initially, but to a greater degree it took away her stress reliever - running.

“When I couldn't run, I became irritable and just frustrated,” said Haik. “There were times where I would want to go for a run to combat negative emotions, but I couldn't. I had to look for other ways to reduce my stress or relieve my frustration.”

Having been heavily reliant on her physical pillar of resilience, Haik realized she needed to shift her focus on the spiritual, mental and social pillars.

“I had to shift some of the weight to and focus more on those areas,” said Haik. “I'm working back up to where I was physically, but it is important for me to maintain all the pillars for my resilience and to know these injuries aren't going to be forever.”

Two of Haik’s wingmen from her work center had reached out to her, inviting her to run afull marathon in October. This gave her a goal to work up to and something to look forward to.

“When Lt. Col. Haik was injured, it was so unfortunate, because she had come a long way,” said Maj. Angela Lewis-Young, 403rd ASTS clinical nurse. “I saw all the training that she was doing, and it was motivating for me because I hadn't been running like I used to. I said to her, ‘Hey, let's do another full.’”

Haik and Lewis-Young had decided on the Marine Corps Marathon that was on Lewis-Young’s bucket list.

“I'm so thankful that I had two people say, ‘I want to do this with you,’” said Haik. “I had just run a marathon 11 days before this car wreck. If I was not in that great of a shape, it would have taken me even longer to recover. It's so important to maintain your fitness because you never know what's going to happen and if one of your four pillars of resilience takes a hit, you just have to lean more heavily on the other three.”