Nicholas Strand:   0:04
welcome to choose your attitude. Create your life, a podcast inspired by Brianna Os Strand, a superhuman, a hero who showed the world what it's like to live life to the fullest. Diagnosed at age three, she dragged around cystic fibrosis and later pesky superbug, not letting anything get in the way of fulfilling a life. Some could only dream off. A death sentence of age 13. She packed a full life legacy that her body just couldn't keep up with. After 29 years of life. In May 2017 her journey was over. But her legacy continues and is followed by many her widower and author of Loving Someone Who Is Dying lives off her inspiring story and hopes to help others live such a full and inspiring life. And is the energy behind this podcast in her own words. Choose your attitude, create your life. And now here's your host, Nicholas Strand. All right. Welcome to the show, Andrea. This is actually the first recording.

Andrea Haisch:   1:10
I know. I'm so excited

Nicholas Strand:   1:12
and crazy. Um, so I guess Let's just dive right in.

Andrea Haisch:   1:18
All right, let's hear it.

Nicholas Strand:   1:20
Um, where do I start? Um, first off, Andrea and I uh uh, her brothers I went to school with. So that's how I know her. Um, And I brought her on the show because she, her and her brother had a accident up on the ah, mountain as they were climbing. And she always has had a very good a positive attitude. Kind of like Brianna and I figured she would be a good person for the show. And, um, I wanted to talk about some things that kind of correspond that, um But first, I think I kind of want to ask you to maybe explain kind of basically what happened. And, ah, some of those things. Um, we'll just start out. I guess deep into that, so we can kind of

Andrea Haisch:   2:14
go from there. Yeah. All right. So I was, um very well still am very happy. But I was in college. I had just moved home from a six month stay in Australia and had backpack New Zealand by myself. Um, I was home. I was excited. I had a boyfriend in town that I had just met in Australia, and I was showing him all of the beautiful things in Washington. Um, one of those being a sport that my brother had just started and was excited about. Um and we went rock climbing, and it all went to shit really fast. I was watching my brother climb when a big boulder came, dislodged and landed right next to me. Started a rock slide, took me off a cliff, and, um, I traveled down. This cliff is a bit extreme. Actually, it was a cross between, like, a ledge and cliff. So is taken off this ledge and this boulder and I fell over and over again together until eventually it crushed my left foot, pin me on my right leg and fast forward. Two weeks. I'm making the difficult decision. Thio amputate that foot that was crushed on that big rock slide. So a lot happened in that two weeks A lot, you know, an airlift to harbor view, which is the best place to be, and also the worst place to be. If you're familiar with Washington trauma, um, that is it. So in that two weeks, I was able to understand kind of the severity of the condition of my foot and have a better understanding of what my life would be like. with that foot. Um, it took me a while to really I understand that I would not have a life that I would deem worth living if I had that foot. So I decided to say sayonara, tow my left foot. And with that amputation started this new life for me.

Nicholas Strand:   4:46
Positive attitude. I love talking about something that most would be like freaked out about a little bit. But I'm glad that you have that smile. And that's one thing that I wish Like when some of these areas Where does that come from?

Andrea Haisch:   5:02
I don't know. Um, I've always been a pretty happy person. I've always had a very positive outlook. I've never been down on myself over trivial things. I mean, of course, like the stressful things in life. Like which college re gonna go Thio? And should you? If you take your foot or not, Obviously those decisions we're, you know, trying. But for the most part, I've always kind of had this outlook. However, I I didn't understand the depth of this until this came like people will always say, Oh, my gosh, I could have never done what you've done, and it's like, dude I didn't like train for the Olympics and like you won a gold medal. I mean, in my mind, I did. But like I didn't I didn't expect this and I didn't want this to happen. I'm happy that I came out on top, but it wasn't something that I was like working towards. So when people say to me like I could have never done what you've done. It's almost insulting because it's not like I ever knew that I could do what I d'oh, you know what I mean? And I also don't think that people understand, um, like the tenacity that they have within until something like this happens.

Nicholas Strand:   6:31
I washed a lot of the videos and such of you kind of overcoming, Um, and for most, when you're in that situation, I don't want to speak for you, but you're just trying to live. Um, but to most, you're kind of cast it as this hero or, um,

Andrea Haisch:   6:59
inspiration. Everyone's favorite word when you have a disability is here, and it's

Nicholas Strand:   7:05
so what is it? How does that differ, Or or how? What were some of the things that helped you get through that? I guess um because we all know that, like, I'm sure you had moments where you were life is never gonna be the same. Yeah, you were gonna lose a leg. Um, I'm assuming reality is

Andrea Haisch:   7:38
bleak at some points of it. Yeah, so I mean, it's not like it's not like the boulder fell on me. And the next day I said, I am a bad ass. I do anything like there is definitely time. And in this case, it's seven years from the time of the boulder following on mi Teoh. You know the words that I speak today, But there were definitely some dark times, and I distinctly remember feeling like I wasn't progressing fast enough. I remember the first several weeks and months I wouldn't even look at my Lim. I went to Harbor View every week to get my cast change. They would take my cast off. They would examine my suitor and see how it was healing. And there were times where it wasn't healing so well. But I didn't know the difference because I had a blindfold on every single week. I didn't actually look at my Lim until, um, the day that my surgeon said that it was healed enough for me to start walking. So there is a good four months there that I don't know if you would call it denial, but I think a severe discomfort that my life had changed. So for those four months, I wore a blindfold and I knew that my leg was gone. But I wasn't ready. Thio talk about it and I wasn't ready. Thio, think about the next stage of my life. And so there wasn't just this Immediate life is going to be okay mentality. And actually, I would argue that the people who do have the immediate reaction of I'm fine and everything's fine seven years out might also have that same attitude of I'm fine and everything's fine. Whereas I was coined by some of my nurses as, um, like most improved player. So, like I was the bad, bad, bad patient, like I came in with my plan, full died my headband that, you know, converted to my blindfold. Of course, I didn't really bring a mindful, Um, I have a scarf that covered up my leg and then it would be time for them to do their thing. I would cover my eyes, they would undo the scarf and I just wouldn't look at. I didn't have any relationship with my limb until I was forced to have that. So they told me later, like Man Andrew, when you came in way, we're not looking for a deal like it was not a good experience for the clinic. But then, all these years later, I do think I have improved so much and from what I have heard, like a bit more than average. So I went from, like the trenches to the top, which is a testament that everyone's different. Like I was made to believe that the way that I was acting back then was wrong and that it was in denial and it was unhealthy. And I remember my mom looking at my nurses saying like, Just give her time and I think that she'll be okay and my mom was exactly right. And mothers know best that, like you do just need time and like I said that people who just start like I'm fine, this is my leg, you know, like I don't think that that if you don't experience like those really deep deep down's you can really, truly experience, like the peaks and the joys of this transformation

Nicholas Strand:   11:18
When this all happened. Um, you spoke about your mom, and I know your brother was there your boyfriend

Andrea Haisch:   11:26
at the time at the time. Hey, he's wonderful. He's so wonderful. I just saw him a few months ago. No, he's great. He's in Australia. Then I'm here. How does

Nicholas Strand:   11:38
how did they partake? How did they, uh, help you? Um, you're very happy right now, and I know, like watching some of those videos. Um, you definitely look serious. Um, you look like you're positive, but it was, uh, trying. I could see that you were, um, uphill battle. Basically for sure. How did how did the people around you help you or interact in that? Um

Andrea Haisch:   12:15
um I think the best answer is that nobody knows what to do in that situation. Nobody knows how to help you. Um, I think my mom and my brother were so close to the trauma that even they didn't know how to help me. Um, looking back, I think one of the most reassuring things Waas My boyfriend at the time. Angus. He was He's all things fabulous, one of the most beautiful humans in the world. But he would look at me every day and say like, you're still hot and you can do this and you've got this. And like, I would say that in those first few formative years, Angus was truly a driving force behind my confidence. And, you know, there's only so much that the your family can dio on for some reason for me, when it came to my partner and my partner who was there from, you know, when I had both my legs, too, when I didn't that was really, um, a pushing force for me. My family obviously has been there over time. Um, but I think some of the most like, transformative times in the past seven years have been on my own and as wonderful as this, like, shared experience. It is, um it was also really, really hard if I'm being honest. My brother, um my brother Kurt and I, you know, we had the same experience of the accident. Our, um, prognosis, if you will, was different. He broke his neck. I, um, had, you know, a foot that was non viable in my opinion. And so we both went through these really, really traumatic experiences, and both reacted emotionally, very different. So that was really hard, because I was trying to find my way in this new identity and as an amputee and understanding that my life and my appearance and my identity was so different than it was a few months ago, a few years ago, whereas Kurt was dealing with, you know, a serious injury. But socially, his life will always be the same, whereas mine is not so me. You know, being an amputee, it doesn't. It doesn't manifest in every facet of my life. But for a lot of parts of my life, being an amputee is just part of who I am. And so, um, that was kind of hard to balance the just like the narrative over it, like how much of the accident plays into my life versus my mom's life versus Angus is life who was in the accident but wasn't injured. And how much of it does it play into Kurt's life who was injured but is not visible to the outside so as beautiful as a shared experience? Woz, I mean I would definitely want to go through that with my family versus strangers. Of course. Um but it wasn't as easy as I think people perceive it to be.

Nicholas Strand:   15:48
Do you think you're saying something about, um, how your boyfriend was giving you positive words and kind of helping you through the situation. However, one looking at reality would be like everything he's saying is not completely accurate. If you were to say reality, but as a coach to lift you up, it brought you out of that. How

Andrea Haisch:   16:12
are you saying I wasn't an absolute smoke show with one leg? Because I would use E. I mean, I completely

Nicholas Strand:   16:20
understand that, but I guess what I'm saying is like, Was there ever a moment that you in those moments when he would say that, argue or decipher? Or was it more of a sense that you wanted to walk? You wanted to be independent in it. That independence kind of was forefront over the reality. You

Andrea Haisch:   16:43
know, I've never really I've never really, like, picked apart his words back then. All I know is that what he told me was a driving force in my recovery and in in the way that I perceive myself today. So I never said like, you're a liar or or I never said like, I don't think that we can ever do these things. It was more like if Angus believed that we could do these things than we could do these things And we did do these things, like one of the Onley things that brought me joy and those really, really hard months was the idea of traveling and in all my spare time, I planned this five week trip for us, for when we move back to Australia and we went to Southeast Asia, he went to South Africa. We went to the Middle East, and so I don't think that I ever, like questioned his authenticity in those words. I just know that there were very few things that spark joy for me then and he was able to tap into those.

Nicholas Strand:   17:58
Do you do you see kind of in the situation? Um, you'd mentioned kind of the the independence. You doing things kind of on your own, as opposed to having somebody else involved. People outside help us kind of more in a spiritual way of cheering us on and such, they sometimes are stuck to try to help. For example, someone dropped something. You can usually see two or three people try toe, Pick that up on Dino with you. I'm sure you kind of have many situations. If they see that you are an amputee, that they might, um, intervene or coddle you in a sense that they would somebody else Maybe. How does that independence kind of get to you? And

Andrea Haisch:   18:51
so I think, like the number like my biggest P s A. As someone with the disability is that we are So there has been a time in our lives where we haven't been as independent as we are. We know that we are now with that we are no longer able bodied. And so we you should never assist someone with a disability unless they ask for help. So my biggest P. S. A s. Some of the disability is that we all know that we can ask for help. We know that we live in a society where people are eager to help us, and they want to help us. But the biggest thing is that you should wait for someone toe ask for help. However, on the flip side of that, when you are someone like me who doesn't have a limp and walks very typically, um, people kind of do like the opposite. So, like I have had the words said to me like, You can walk your fine Stop talking about your leg on like sure, there is probably a time in my life where I was talking about a lot. But guess what? That's because that's all I could think about. I had no brain space for anything else. Besides, um, you know, thinking about my leg, and there's so many little intricacies of learning how to do things with a prosthetic leg of putting your clothes on and putting your shoes on and walking down the stairs and walking up a hill and getting into a car and getting out of a car and all of these little things that take a lot of mind work. But to someone else looks so effortless. So I feel like for someone like me, I definitely have a disability. But I'm so able bodied and can blend in with the able bodied world that I really ironically metaphorically and literally have a foot in both worlds. So I do definitely identify with having a disability. However I get by and I am successful in the able bodied world, and so that can be a blessing and a curse all the same time. So, like, coddle me like I love taking my leg off and making the guy that I didn't go get me more wanted to bring

Nicholas Strand:   21:10
me

Andrea Haisch:   21:10
some wine while you're at it,

Nicholas Strand:   21:12
Would you say, like watching? So some of the videos that I saw you were on the news and kind of they talked about all this stuff. So, like you said it, it's hard to not help you. But would you say that it's actually more help sometimes to not allow you to struggle but allow you the ability to be independent and to, uh, work towards your own success of something as opposed. Do somebody always being there to fill in? Yeah, I don't think that

Andrea Haisch:   21:46
anyone ever like, saw me struggling and, like, wanted me to struggle for that, because for me, I think the biggest struggles were just, like, really, really small things that take a lot of might work. So, for instance, like there is something that I wear in between my my leg and my prosthetic leg called the liner. And I have to wash that every night or every day. And when I was with Angus, he would wash like I would take my leg off for the day, I'd be in bed and he would go wash it and bring it back to me. Noah dry overnight, and I would put it on the morning. First mailing actually gets a really great of a back to Seattle 90 0 but I distinctly remember when when we were ending things in Australia, and I knew that I wanted to move home and I knew I want to move home without him. I knew that they were going to be a lot of little things that he had helped me with, that I needed to learn on my own. So just I don't think there was anyone in my life that saw a chance to help me and didn't. I think a lot of it was me going from having a partner that was there 24 7 that I was living with, that I was traveling with that you know, was really like my life partner at that point to being completely independent and a big part of my move home. I hate to say it was to gain that independence. Like I knew that I wanted to be an amputee all by myself. Like I wanted to learn the routine of How do you wash your liner and balance and make it dry and put it back on successfully like That's just one little thing? Um, that was a challenge for me at first. So I I don't think that, like my family members were like watching me struggle and intentionally, you know, took a step back. I don't actually think that they ever saw me struggle. And I think that might be one of the reasons why. You know, it's like the blessing and the curse to be so able bodied, but with a disability,

Nicholas Strand:   23:54
would you say, kind of with the being able body in the disability that I mean, we all want to try to be normal or what we were but to be treated equal. And the fact of, you know, uh, I know that you have said that, you know, being labeled as an amputee doesn't bother you. You know your reality. But at the same time to kind of be treated equally. And the fact that you know you're no different than one walking with two legs as opposed to amputee.

Andrea Haisch:   24:30
Yeah, it kind of it. It's kind of wolf. It's like like, yeah, I can do everything, but it also like, takes more work for me to do that. And, like, I've had to overcome a lot more to be at this spot. So, like, I wouldn't call myself like I mean, I would have had a great life if I had both my legs, for sure. But like, that's not the case anymore. And I've had to work a hell of a lot harder to get to where I am now versus if this had never happened to me.

Nicholas Strand:   25:03
But it makes you a lot more diverse. And I've seen some things that I've been following you with. For example, your will will cheer basketball or your continuous journeys traveling. Um, as we sit here, we're sitting next to your, uh, snow ski bag. Um, what happened last weekend? So you go from losing a limb to learning to walk to traveling the world to now going back and doing some things that some completely normal able body can't do.

Andrea Haisch:   25:44
Yeah. Do you ski, Nick?

Nicholas Strand:   25:48
I am one of those, um, I'm intrigued to know, kind of from the wheelchair basketball to the scheme. Um, skiing being kind of a normal or or a more regular sport where will cheer Basketball is kind of a unique, um, adaptive sport. What I have

Andrea Haisch:   26:15
to say. Yes. Huh? So

Nicholas Strand:   26:18
scheme was

Andrea Haisch:   26:18
actually, like, probably one of the most beautiful journeys of all of this. I will say that if I had both my legs, I would not be the wild skier that I am today. Um, I started skiing, I think less than a year. Um, I think about 10 months after I lost my leg, I was on skis for the first time again. I had been skiing since I was three years old. I always liked it, but I was never the one to say, like, let's go skiing. It was always my mom waking me up and say, We're going skiing today. It was always her 80. It was never something that I had to do. It was just like a family sport. Um and so she my mom and I went up Thio Crystal Mountain 10. But we had one of those, like, really freaky winters where they went on forever. And so it was June and I had an appointment. My surgeon and I said, Can I please ski? And I have ah, really unique amputation where it's called a bone bridge where my tibia and fibula are dangling. They took a, I think, an undamaged bone from another part of my foot and they put it and they're so it makes like, um I don't know how you describe this.

Nicholas Strand:   27:37
You are like, yeah, kind of over shit. The bottom field goal.

Andrea Haisch:   27:42
Yeah. Field goal. Exactly. So the bottom of a lake is like a field goal. So anyways, I have, like, a quite wonderful and stable limb, And so my surgeon's like, Well, you're pretty healed. So head on up. So I went up there, and as it would be the only runs that we're open, we're black diamonds because it was late in the season on Lee. The top of the mountain was open, and so we go up there and it was a sinker sweet moment, and it was really, really hard to ski at first. Um, I thought, like, shit, is this like how it's always going to be like It's always gonna be hard to turn on this one side. And I just kept going your time after time and a few years later I was skiing with my uncle and he saw the ridiculousness of how it was for me to put my boots on and it involved, like me and my mom. And like it was, I can't even describe how crazy was, Um and my uncle's like, What the heck are you doing? We need to get you. He's like, I know these boots. They open up. Ah, lot bigger. They would be perfect for you. So he marched me down to the store. He bought them for me and those air boots that I can do all on my own. So that's a big thing. Is like things that have to be, like modified a little bit. Or you have toe use certain things like I put a plastic bag over my prosthetic foot so that it slides and easier Call it my talent. My foot lube, a little plastic bag s so I put it in and ice that gave me the independence to start skiing with other people besides my mom. So I started skiing with thes really crazy guys and they on a few different occasions that like a we're heading up chair six. And if you know Crystal Mountain, Sure sixes only double blacks. And I'm like, Yes, he later I'm gonna take the blue run. They're like, No, you're not. And I said, you guys, I've never skied this with both my legs. I'm not going to ski it with with how I am now. I'm weaker on one side and they're like, Andrea, you're coming with us. So I went up and the first time I skied like the more mild double Black And then the next week they bring me up and they're like, Yeah, you're doing parable. And actually, I'm going skiing with one of them in a few weeks. He's one of my best friends. His name's Kalen and he's like, Just go, just go. So he goes first and he just yells down to me like

Nicholas Strand:   30:18
Andrea, make a freakin ter because

Andrea Haisch:   30:23
I would stall because I knew it was harder to turn on one side. So, Kalen, um, and our other friend, Nathan was just like yelling at me to get down. And that was a really transformative time of my life because I started to ski terrain that I had never skied when I had both my legs. So for me, that was, ah, big moment in my life to be like, Okay, you're down a leg, but you're kind of up, like this wild attitude and this confidence. I mean, confidence is a big word, but like this desire to want to ski more and more and more so, part of being an amputee is that you can qualify, are not qualified, But you're entitled to some perks like like disabled parking once in a while and also, um, adaptive skiing passes. So those air, like half the price is normal passes. And I got my first adaptive passed a few years ago, and I started skiing at all these places that I had, like, always dreamed of. So, like veil and Breckenridge and Whistler that I had skied like many years ago and having this past, that was like, you know, half the price as the able bodied pass like really propelled me to just, like, ski and ski and ski and ski. And so I like form this like band of ski guys to ski with me. And I would skew with my mom and we just took off on all these trips and it was like, this big realization of like, Okay, if you did, if this had never happened to you and you had both your legs like, you would probably still be the girl that, like, waited for your mom to say We're going skiing this morning and instead like it has totally changed my life. Just like the fire under me to want to ski things and to challenge myself like it's such a high that I could have never experienced. If I had both my legs,

Nicholas Strand:   32:29
would you say so? The experience to overcome what some would fear you yourself. I'm sure it kind of feared that yourself when everything happened, Yeah, that you were never gonna walk again. You overcome that with a lot of excellence. And then by overcoming it, feeling that success,

Andrea Haisch:   32:58
Yeah, I think

Nicholas Strand:   32:58
it's like

Andrea Haisch:   32:58
a high. It's like it's like you really really wanna walk and then you walk and then you really, really want to ski and you ski and then you keep skiing and then you ski more and more and more and more like I don't necessarily think that I ever attributed it toe like other people, you know, blah, blah, blah, Like I never compared myself to other people. I really just like it's a big, like Wake up, call it like you could be dead right now And of course, that's not like a daily thought, But it's definitely a thought of, like when I'm accomplishing something that is like, really important to me. So yeah, like achieving skiing. Some like really steep terrain. It's like holy cow, like not only did you ski that, but like you never see that before. So I think that it's always it was always like in the beginning. You know, I was like, Really? I think I have this, like, unhealthy relationship with, like, the old me and like I wanted so badly to be that girl that had both her legs and to just, like live that typical and like dairy say, normal life and then when, like that's taken away from you and you're given and forced toe have this new normal. Of course, it's like so negative. But then when you start to, like, unravel all of the challenges and like the perseverance and like the eye on the prize mentality than it all kind of comes together is like, Oh, my God, I can't do this.

Nicholas Strand:   34:38
So for somebody who's kind of, they just lost their limb or had a struggle and they're trying to overcome something as extreme. Um, I know the mentality is mind over matter, but sometimes that's like the worst thing to say because it's like, yeah,

Andrea Haisch:   34:59
if your mind isn't there,

Nicholas Strand:   35:00
mind isn't there, huh? How do you get there? How How? Um

Andrea Haisch:   35:09
well, I hope that there's someone at

Nicholas Strand:   35:12
some point that wasn't

Andrea Haisch:   35:13
so This is just lost their limbs because when that was me in that position in my family searched long and hard for someone who could be a mentor for me. And, um, we finally found someone that was a little bit older. But I would have loved Thio, meet someone that was around my age, and, um, that could tell me what life would be like. So I do hope that someone out there is in that position and has found this. Um, I think that I think that's surrounding with simple things like social media with a diverse following is important or listening to things that other people have experienced is important, like were so consumed by the able bodied world. And for me, like I had this really weird obsession with looking at people slaves for like, a good year. And I would say to myself, like she has both her legs. He has both his legs. She has wealth is like they all have both their legs, y don't I? And it was like I was fixated on people's legs for maybe not a year. That's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but, like definitely in those like, three or four months. When I was in a wheelchair and I didn't have my leg, I didn't have my own leg and I didn't have a prosthesis yet, So I think now we're starting Thio. Understand how important representation is and that, um, advertisements and pop stars and all these people that are in the limelight, you know, shouldn't be just white, able bodied heterosexual people. Um, I think that, you know, we're kind of evolving as a society to have different, differently abled people on the forefront of our viewing. But I think when you're like new, you have to understand that there's an entire community out there that is like you and that is ready to welcome you because I felt so alone. And it wasn't until I found that community that I felt like I belongs somewhere

Nicholas Strand:   37:42
when So speaking of that, we went into the skiing and kind of, um, the feeling, uh, going into the wheelchair basketball, Um

Andrea Haisch:   37:58
hey, don't play wheelchair basketball very much

Nicholas Strand:   38:00
anywhere. But what intrigued you into that? Um,

Andrea Haisch:   38:04
I still dabble from time to time, but skiing has kind of taken over. So I first pound the amputee community through volunteering at a youth camp. Um, it was put on by the Amputee coalition of America. Every summer hurt is put on, it is put on by the empty collision of America every summer in Ohio, and they fly out ah, 150 amputees from all over the U. S. Um, and instead of having counselors who are able bodied, they there's definitely like official counselors there who, like, you know, Rick up, visit zip lines and, you know, teachers, archery and things like that. But instead of having those counselors live in the cabins with them, they take him out and they fly in, like 30 of us. So we're like all adults who have experienced limb loss or were born with a limb difference. We all have, like, these kick ass careers were all doing, like, really, really cool things in our lives somewhere. Paralympians, Um, some are actresses. Some work in organizations that, like support these kids in, like adaptive sports and things like that. And then other people are just like, you know, typical careers like me, like I'm a teacher and there's doctors and there's dentists and things like that. So I go to this camp, Um, I think, two years after my limb loss, and it was like the first time that people didn't stare at my leg and I was like, Oh my God, this is awesome, Like nobody cares that my leg is gone. I can We're sure it's an I can wear a dress, and nobody even asked me what happened to my leg like This is awesome. So I go to this camp and it literally changed my life. Can I come home? And I'm like, Oh, my God, like community is everything And I think that is one thing that is applicable in my life. I have some really, really good friends that are gay, that it's so applicable in their life. Like community is everything when you're just ah, little bit outside of the norm of what a typical American is or should be. It like community is there and they have your back. So it's more than family, and it's more than friends. It's like people who just get it. So I first experienced that community at camp and at camp we would dabble in some adaptive sports. So we did like sitting volleyball in wheelchair tennis, Um, and then like one of my favorite days at campus, and we're all when we all jump in the pool and there's just like piles of prosthetic legs on the outside because they're all, like, you know, screw the leg jumping in. So that was like the first time that I experienced community and then also the first time that I experienced it after sports, so I never felt like I needed like to play it after sports. But then I'd come back to Seattle and sadly, from this camp, like I have all these really, really, really good friends. But they're in New York and they're in Texas and they're in New Jersey like they're everywhere. But see out of California. And, like, I don't have anyone in Seattle. Well, now I do. But like at the time, I didn't have anyone in Seattle that had a limp difference. And I'm like, Well, it's also might get to go to Ohio And I get to be around all these people, like, you know, 200 other amputees. But then, like that's short lived and I come home to my life where I, you know, I'm different. And so I started to think about, um, getting involved with Seattle adoptive sports, and I found that the wheelchair basketball team. So I tried it out and I've actually really enjoyed it. I thought it was really cool to, like not only be apart, have something that's like with other amputees. There's not very many of US embassies, but also like other disabilities, because I don't really have much experience with, like being around people with other disabilities. So that's really cool, too, because it's like it doesn't really matter that my leg is gone like it's just mad like that. I don't know. It's just nice to be around people who are different, and we're all kind of under this umbrella. So I started playing, Um, and it's really freaking what I was in my accident. I broke my will like my foot was all sorts of, you know, catastrophic injuries on Dhe. Then I broke my arm and I broke my pelvis. So I was in a wheelchair. But I couldn't like wheel myself and and I was like, so loopy and so sad. So I don't have, like, any chairs so and I have no basketball skills. So why I decided to pick up a wheelchair. Basketball is beyond me, but it was a really fun experience toe like be in that world and, um, toe learn a new sport. And to learn an adaptive sports at that and to get to know these people like there's some really, really kick ass people on that team. Unfortunately, I'm a bit too much of a ski junkie to dedicate myself to wheelchair basketball. But I'm happy that I tried about and I'm happy that I met those people.

Nicholas Strand:   43:33
I love it. Um, you mentioned, uh, kindergarten teacher. Yeah. So with all these life experiences, um, it was right before college, right? It was during

Andrea Haisch:   43:48
it was right before my senior year of college.

Nicholas Strand:   43:51
That's right. So how is all this kind of helped you as a teacher. Um, watching some of your social media. I see. You know, for example, the wheelchair. You bring that in, or, uh, your leg, Um, you kind of allow them to be intrigued and introduce that love touching. How does that kind of, um, make you feel? But then at the same time help you actually teach And at the same time, uh, you know? Yeah. How What do you see as the kids? Um, getting from that,

Andrea Haisch:   44:29
um, so I'll never forget when I was, like, about to have this dreadful surgery at the time. Um, it made surgeons like you're going to be a better person because of this. And you're gonna be a better teacher because of this. That I had a big F you to station like I was not pleased that this old white, middle aged guy with both his legs was telling me that I was going to be a better person without my left foot. And so it has been a really interesting journey. I think the first few years, like any new teacher, you're just like trying to get through. And you're trying todo like be the best teacher you can be, but also, like take care of yourself and stay above water. And it wasn't until a few years ago where, like, I realized that his words were starting to ring true, like being it took me a little bit of time. Two be in a place where I could share this experience with my students. Like I have always been very open about it. But I think the degree of openness has, like, only improved over the years. So, like to begin with, I only had like, a pretty leg, and I didn't want anything to do with, like, you know, a big metal blade or like any sort of industrial looking leg. And then, as I got more comfortable, fat than I started tow first of all get one and then we're to work and where it was short dresses and, you know, foxy Teacher. And so, like, I feel like that me becoming more comfortable as an amputee has simultaneously been me becoming, you know, a better teacher. And not to say that they're mutually exclusive, but they've just kind of happened on a parallel. So, um, I think being able to share that with my students has been something that I has been Really, I don't know. I was touching, exciting, like to show them that you don't need both your legs and you don't need both your arms and you don't need to have, like, have this body that we see is typical. To be a valued and successful member of society has kind of blown me away and the way that they interact with the leg and the way that they, um, interpret disability. And I think watching them kind of like notice it and have questions and be shocked. But then also very quickly, Um, like, understand, it really is like what I wish that most adults would dio like I know that I'm different and it's okay that, you know, that I'm different. But I take a moment, look at it and just, like, get over it. Because at the end of the day, like I'm going to be these Children's teacher just as much as I'm going to be the stranger that I am to you or this friend that I am to you. I mean, my friends air good about it, but, like, just as a whole as being an adult like, I wish that there is this moment of, like, no big deal that every student has had in my teaching career.

Nicholas Strand:   47:55
One of the things I was gonna ask is, um, you have this huge challenge in your life that kind of sparks this new mindset or gives you a reason to live or give you hope or gives you confidence doing some things that people who haven't gone through what you've gone through, um see, is almost impossible. Um, if I was a person that hasn't really had any huge life experiences that have kind of challenged me in that way, um, as we know most time when you actually go through those challenges, those air, what teaches the best but not everybody is as privileged tour, as I would say,

Andrea Haisch:   48:48
Go rock climbing like See what happens in a folder. Will phone. Yeah, What would you say

Nicholas Strand:   48:54
to them as faras like, um, that positive ear that drive to succeed, um to overcome.

Andrea Haisch:   49:09
Um, I think that's a tricky question because I think a lot of the whole thing, a lot of drive is intrinsic motivation. And if someone doesn't have that, I'm not saying that there, you know, like lost forever. But it's not necessarily something that you can teach someone. I think one thing that I've learned is that everyone has something so like, people will look at me and be like, I can't believe that you don't have a leg. It's like I can't believe that you suffer with anxiety every day like that is something that I can't really thio. And so I think kind of taking a step back so it doesn't have to be physical, and it doesn't have to be emotional. Could be, you know, family relations. But understanding that everyone has something and, like dairy, say something negative. Or maybe it's just something challenging, like knowing that everyone has something has helped me understand that like although mine is quite traumatic and also quite dramatic. Um, it's not so out of the realm of what everyone else is going through. So, like, sure, I will live with mine for the rest of my life. But that's not to say that my peers who haven't gone through something like this haven't really gone through something like this. Does that make sense?

Nicholas Strand:   50:51
Would you Would you say some of those things when they say that it would be maybe because they were uncomfortable with the situation? So because they haven't experienced that or they have their own,

Andrea Haisch:   51:06
I don't really talk about it with, like, I don't really fish for like what other people's things are. But people go through some really unfortunate things all the time, and I just think of this is my thing. So, like, yeah, bummer that a big rock fell on me and I no longer have a leg. But like other people, lose people who are close to them and other people you know, separate from family members and other people have thio flee violence, and I mean, I just feel like unless you really, really do live this perfect life, which I don't honestly think exists because I think even the most perfect life is masked with underlying emotional trauma or discomfort or imperfection. I just think that everyone has a thing, and I am a big, big believer that, like the things are almost equal. So like, if someone is really having a hard time, that X, Y and Z is going on like in their life, that's as big as me losing my leg. So having this like hierarchy of discomfort or hierarchy of loss like, does it benefit anyone? So I think that it kind of has helped me. It's kind of helped me to understand that, like, it's not just people who have experienced limb loss that has had something unfortunate happened to them. Every single person on this earth has had something unfortunate happened to them, and we don't need to stack it up against each other to see, like, who has lost more?

Nicholas Strand:   53:02
Um, let's I want to go back to being in the hospital. Uh, the accident happens. All your friends find out the news. Uh, you're in this trauma of trying to understand reality. Shock is what they usually call it. Um, everybody wants to be at your side people that you're haven't talked to in a while. And at the same time, you're trying to learn how to breathe again because you're you, your legs, rapture and pain traumas all around you. You're in a very uncomfortable situation.

Andrea Haisch:   53:43
Thio. Don't visit people in the hospital unless you have permission. I

Nicholas Strand:   53:50
mean, those experiences, um, I myself had some of those, but how did those make it more difficult when it's hard? Because as a friend, we want to reach out and go see our friends. That might be in there, but at the same time, we sometimes forget because we ourself are in the trauma, um, of hearing the news. So what are some suggestions or what are some kind of

Andrea Haisch:   54:19
I think? It's always nice to hear that people want to visit you. Um, I was in the hospital for a month, and that's a lot of a lot of days. Um and I think it was always nice to know that people wanted to visit me. Um, and I really have a lot of gratitude for the people who waited until they got our response from one of my family members that they could visit me. Um, probably one of the most negative experiences that I had was when a family member wanted to visit. And, um, it was right around the time when I knew, um, I knew that I wanted to amputate. However, I couldn't quite bravely say that. So, um, when you're in a situation like that and people come to visit, they say, What's going on? And when you don't want to utter those words of what's actually going on, it tears you apart inside. So I made a very distinct decision with my family. I said from here until Wednesday, no visitors are here until Friday, whenever it was like, I don't want anyone coming her. It was my last days with my leg. That's I lost that I will never, ever, you know, be able to mourn as like as someone who had that leg my entire life. Um, and so I think it's important to listen to the person who is in the hospital, but because when they know what they can handle and maybe they don't even know what they can handle. But in my in my situation, I knew what I could handle, and I couldn't handle any visitors for a period of time. And it was pretty hurtful when that family members said, like I'm coming and and just just tell her that I am here to visit you to my mom like it wasn't about me and I know that people have really good intentions. But when when the person who's experiencing so much doesn't want any more interaction, like you have to respect that and you have to understand that visitors aren't always a comforting thing. It can bring a lot of pain to face the reality of what's actually going on when someone's asking that of you

Nicholas Strand:   56:57
and I could see it more, is it? It's not that you are anti social, it's ever been my life. It's, um you're trying to overcome the information and go through it yourself.

Andrea Haisch:   57:13
Yeah, and I think that, like some people, like, if you like, break your leg than like the damage is done and you're just trying to heal or whatever. But like for me, I have remember we don't remember very clearly anything, but I do remember meetings with all these different teams of doctors that went on for hours, like I was trying to get information from the amputation team who said, Hey, if you amputate your leg, this is what your life is going to look like and for separately from the salvage team who's like, Hey, if you salvage your foot will take your lettuce, Miss door, Sigh as a muscle and we will take skin grass from your ass and we will take all these things like I am trying to process all that information of, like, do I want to self which my foot and be in pain for the rest of my life? Or do I want to amputate like I was having to get all of this information from two different teams of doctors having to decipher, having to interpret it, having to discuss it with my family so and with myself, like I was 21? I was adult at that time, like this was my decision to make. And so there it wasn't just a a rock fell on me and I had to recover, and maybe if they would have amputated, amputated it right from the gecko, it would have been something like that, but it wasn't I had to make this decision, and it obviously wasn't it. He's the one to make. So, like every day was filled with thes with thes meetings and these, you know, like checking in and getting more information like there's only so much you can take and then for someone to come and say, So what's going on? It's like,

Nicholas Strand:   58:57
I don't know, some of that time to is you want it for yourself, for your family. And, yeah, I was just quiet.

Andrea Haisch:   59:08
One time I pretended like it. I fell asleep and I took in half so that someone would leave. But like, looking back, I should have just been like I've had it for visitors. And I think that's something that we have a hard time advocating for, because when we know that someone's coming with, like a very, very positive intent, it's hard to shut someone down. But never to give any advice to seven in the hospital for, ah you know, extended stay or their family members is like, Will the patient really benefit from visitors? And if the answer is no emotionally like, see later, not interested,

Nicholas Strand:   59:45
what are some ways from a distance that you could see Ah, to be helpful. Um, I know one thing that we did is we tried to set, like, time timelines of visits or, like, you know, posted outside to try toe because it was difficult to say these things sometimes. So he posted. But, I mean, I'm a friend. I want to reach out. So how do you How do you do that? Um

Andrea Haisch:   1:0:13
I think waiting until the dust settles is really important. Um, like the 1st 2 weeks of my recovery was just an absolute cluster of information that I was forced to interpret and that I was not prepared. Thio face. This next two weeks was like me making this, like, really critical decision. And then for like, the four months after that was me recovering, um, that, like, I wish people would have visited. So, like, everyone wanted to visit me in the hospital. But then, like, I get home to my house and like, a significant, you know, significantly smaller amount of people wanted to visit then so I would say, Like, wait until the dust settles, wait until their home. Then you can visit because then, like you're not being crammed in between doctors meetings like I still had a lot of appointments. Once I got home, I was going to physical therapy so I could get stronger so that I could walk on my leg with my leg healed. I was going to Harvey once a week, Um, and when my wound opened up, I was having to go to wound care once a week. So I had four out of the five week days filled up with appointments also. But like I was home every night and that would have been like and some people did visit me. I remember one of my friends came over. She kept me a manicure and, like another friend, came over and we watched a movie, and, you know, there was definitely people who did wait till the dust settled. But I think if I could give any advice is just wait until things settle down a little bit. And then one like the rial recovery starts, which for me was out of the hospital. Um, that's a great time toe like connect because then it's like I will share what happened, and I will share like what's going on? Where is when I'm trying to decide if I should amputate my leg or not. I don't want to tell you what's going on. I don't

Nicholas Strand:   1:2:18
even want to tell myself what's going on. Do you have ever moments where you're just like I don't want to talk about this anymore? Because this is all we've talked about all day. So maybe if you come over, let's do something but the obvious,

Andrea Haisch:   1:2:35
like now we're

Nicholas Strand:   1:2:35
then a altogether. I mean,

Andrea Haisch:   1:2:39
honestly, this is my first time talking about the accident in probably two years, like I don't talk about it anymore. I think it's a powerful story, and it's, um it's a story and very proud of, Um, But as my therapist said today, it is a chapter in the narrative, and that chapter is like many chapters ago. So of course it is a big part of my life. But it's not something that I like to rehash every day. But of course you know when there's an opportunity for me to share it, I'm down. So, um now, no, like, I'll go on. I'll go on first dates and like like Well, what's the story? And it was like there's there's no story like I don't share what has happened to me until I really get to know someone. And then, um, I mean back then, Like, it's a bit of an elephant in the room because everyone wants to know about it. But one of my favorite visitors, like, visited and brought sparkling apple cider and didn't once ask me like what happened to my leg? Because, I mean, there was, like, a lot of communication about it. My brother Carl, who wasn't in the accident, my oldest brother, he, like, did a really good job informing people of like, what was going on. And so for someone to come and just, like, see how I'm doing and like, chat with me, I mean, sure, there's, like, a bit of an elephant in the room, But also, it was fun to just, like, have a glass of what I thought. Was she in pain?

Nicholas Strand:   1:4:07
A similarity that everybody had was You got to be similar. Yeah. Yeah, everybody was normal.

Andrea Haisch:   1:4:15
Yeah, and I think I still had my foot at that point. And I was just like, I'm so sick of telling people what's going to happen because I didn't really want to believe that it was going to happen. It wasn't a fun decision to make.

Nicholas Strand:   1:4:30
So every day you wake up and you have this positive attitude. Is there something beyond just the normal happy that just makes you kind of push through? Or is it um ah, yeah, for four.

Andrea Haisch:   1:4:52
Uh, well, I would like to clarify and say that I wake up and I'm Leo every day, like everyone with their legs. Um, I I don't know. I, uh I feel really lucky to live this life. I feel really lucky that I've gotten the clarity that I have. And, um, you know, I had a bit of an identity crisis when I hadn't quite found that community yet. And I, you know, we talked a little bit about before. How? You know, I have, like, a foot in each world literally. Um, but I think surrounding myself with people who value that about me and that are like willing toe. Listen to me rant about by life as a disability, just a CZ much is they're willing to listen to be rent about, you know, like my love life or in my social life or my roommate or whatever. Um, that, like, they value that part of me, I think is really helpful. So, like my closest friends now actually aren't, um aren't people that, like I've ever knew when I had both my legs. I mean, I'm still close to people from back then, but I'm like, super super close to my co workers. I see them every day. We have lunch every single day together. Um, and we've been friends for, like, five years, super super close group of girls. And they never knew me with both my legs. And so that's also kind of cool, too. Because then I never have to feel like, Oh, like I'm talking about it too much. Or like I'm I don't know where, as I feel like the people who knew me when I had both. My legs are just so usedto like the old Andrea that of course they value the sight of me. But it's just not quite like the simultaneous Andrea as like my new friends do. Does that make sense? So I think surrounding myself a people who value you know, the different facets of my life. But also just I have a really kickass life and I don't know where that came from. My e never really supportive family, but I think loving what I do on my job and my travels and my sports like living a really intentional life, Um, pays off awesome. But I do not wake up every day like I could have died. That's a big misconception. People think that when you're, like, really close to death, do you wake up with that every day? And it's not

Nicholas Strand:   1:7:52
I mean, we all. We all have those moments where we're stuck in the spot. But, um, would you say your dad working for the news and kind of helping kind of make this say a a larger kind of story to the, uh, local area? Did that put pressure into you, too? Be a success story as opposed to ah, caught in the struggle that some might?

Andrea Haisch:   1:8:22
No. A. I think that I have, like this very distinct, and it's on the news story actually have this very, very distinct thought. It was the moment that I put my leg on for the first time, So if you think back to like me with the blindfold and me not looking at my leg and me refusing to touch it or accept it. Um, And then, like within 24 hours, putting my leg on for the first time, That was like a big, big 24 hours of my life. So, um, I remember having this, like, very, very strong thought of, like, I can do anything. And if you look back at that news clip and me taking my first steps like there is a smile on my face that is like so undeniably happy couldn't fake it if you tried. So I when I watched that it like, reminds me that there was this happy person all along and it really, really took me starting my new normal for it to come out and honestly, like Thurman hard times since that. But there has never been anything since that day that I couldn't handle. And so I mean, there's also a lot of amputees that have a success story, too. Like, I know that I am probably one of the only amputees that you know. But like I go to camp and I'm surrounded by success stories and I mean, it's it's a successful thing like limb loss does not have to end your life. So I think, you know, for better or for worse, my story was was broadcasted and it was public. Um, but when I think back to that day and the very beginning of this beautiful life that I have now, I think putting that leg on for the first time defined the happiness that I have always been able to carry. Carry on.

Nicholas Strand:   1:10:39
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