Lisa Brainard is currently residing in a respite care room at Park Lane Estates in Preston where she is receiving therapy nearly every day and assistance in her recovery.
Lisa Brainard is currently residing in a respite care room at Park Lane Estates in Preston where she is receiving therapy nearly every day and assistance in her recovery.
Almost three months after a nearly-fatal fall from a bridge, local editor Lisa Brainard is truly thankful to be alive, but more than that, she is appreciative of the love and support she has received from her friends and members of the community.

"I am so thankful for the cards, the well wishes and gifts," she said from her room at Park Lane Estates in Preston where she is continuing her recovery after spending more than a month at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, part of which she spent on the rehabilitation floor in the Mary Brigh building. She moved to Park Lane Estates at the end of October and continues to work with physical and occupational therapists in her recuperation.

After surviving a 24-foot fall from a bridge on to rocks in a shallow section of the Root River on Sept. 5, Brainard was taken to Saint Marys where it was determined she had a broken eye socket, a broken thumb on her right hand, broken ribs on her left side and a bruised/torn aorta.

The biggest concern was her damaged aorta and she went into surgery a few days after her fall where stents were inserted to keep her aorta from collapsing. A few hours later, Brainard suffered a stroke, which affected the left side of her body as well as the peripheral vision in her left eye.

As dire as things may have seemed at that time, looking back now, a lot of that time is somewhat of a blur for her. She shared, however, that reading back through her medical records brings tears to her eyes.

"I am truly thankful to be alive," she reiterated. "But there was a time when I couldn't help but wonder if it was my time."

Brainard said she never lost hope and has tried to keep her spirits up. "I never felt the situation was hopeless, but just wondered what was going to happen next," she added.

"Some people tell me I'm an inspiration," Brainard said. "But I don't think I am. I'm just doing what I have to do."

Since coming to Park Lane Estates, she has worked with therapists nearly every day. She has made progress since the stroke, being able to get out of her wheel chair and walk with a walker. She is now working to walk with a cane.

Brainard explained that her left arm and leg are still numb, but she is using them more and moving them more purposefully. "Hopefully the nerve pathways are trying to reconnect," she added.

Her biggest frustration at this time is her damaged eye socket, which prevents her from getting a new eyeglass prescription. Therefore, she is unable to read, which is one of her favorite pastimes. The eye socket was repaired in surgery a couple of weeks ago, with a titanium mesh being added to reinforce the bone. She has a follow-up appointment this week so hopes she can discuss getting glasses with her doctor.

As progress has been made, Brainard has been able to get out and about in the communities several times. She said the experiences have given her a new perspective on accessibility of area businesses. She has to consider entrances when choosing where she would like to go and has to determine if it would be best to use a walker or wheelchair when going out.

One miscommunication that Brainard would like to clear up is the fact that she was transported from her accident site to Saint Marys by the Lanesboro Ambulance Crew, not Mayo One. "I understand that Mayo One was called and was on site, but the Lanesboro Ambulance actually transported me," she noted. She has since talked with one of the crewmembers and said she is very grateful to have the care she needed available when she needed it.

"I think it's kind of ironic that people always worry about me when I go out on a hike on my own, but my accident actually happened right in Lanesboro," Brainard said. "I guess it was good, because the care was right there."

Brainard is not sure how long she will remain at Park Lane, but noted her doctors and therapists will help determine when she is ready to return to her own home.

"Going home right away would have required a lot of help," she explained. "Here, I have assistance if I need it and hallways to walk down."

Brainard said the location of Park Lane was what ultimately helped her decide where to go between the hospital and home. "It's located on the edge of town and I can look out my window and see the trees. I can sit outside on the porch and look out the window of the dining room and see nature," she said.

Being the outdoor person that she is, Brainard's ideal prognosis would enable her to get back outside, hiking without the need for a cane or any walking aids. "But, we'll see," she said. "But, if I can't do that, I'll get outside anyway. I have walked with the walker around the loop in the driveway and I've practiced walking on the lawn. I'll do what I need to do."

She also shared that she recently ordered a new camera as hers was damaged beyond repair in her fall. "I'm just not me without my camera," Brainard added and is already planning on what it will take for her to stabilize the camera until her left hand becomes more cooperative.

Brainard is unsure of when she will be returning to work as the editor of the Chatfield News and Republican-Leader, but is working toward that goal, whether it is full-time or just part-time at first. Those she has worked with, throughout the communities, have been very supportive and encouraging throughout her recovery.

"So many people have been so helpful," she added. "Giving rides to appointments, stopping in to see me, asking me if I need anything . . . It is all so appreciated."

Brainard was especially touched by the various communities of faith, which included her in their prayers. Many area clergy visited her in the hospital and a local church created a prayer shawl for her.

"I am so grateful for everyone who has been sending positive thoughts my way," she concluded. "It has meant more to me than I could ever say."