Chris LymanChris Lyman

When Chris Lyman arrived at Queen of the Valley on July 26, he was literally a broken man. Twelve days before, while cycling down Trinity Road, he'd hit a dip on a sharp switchback and was thrown into an oncoming car. The EMTs on the scene doubted he would survive.

After nearly two weeks in the trauma center at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Chris was transferred to the Queen's Acute Rehabilitation Center. He had suffered two broken vertebrae, a dislocated hip, a shattered pelvis, eight broken ribs, a fractured sternum, and bruised organs. He had already undergone three surgeries to rebuild his back and hip and, after 12 days on his back, he couldn't even stand up.

During his week at the Queen, Chris was treated by physiatrist Dr. Corby Kessler and a team of about five nurses and therapists. And shortly after arriving, he had a tangible plan for full recovery. "As a competitive cyclist, I'm very goal-driven," Chris says. "My rehab team understood that's how I'm wired and helped me work toward progressive goals and achieve them. Their care recognized me as an individual with a high motivation to heal quickly."

Physical Therapist Michael Bothwell credits Chris's attitude with his own quick recovery. "His injuries were far more severe than many of the stroke and trauma patients we see," he says, "but his positive attitude really sped up his healing process. He's the one who put in all the hard work."

Once Chris returned home, he was able to resume part-time work immediately from his home office. He did exercises from his bed and began one-legged pedaling on a spin bike. Within just three months of his debilitating accident, he was approaching his next milestone: walking without crutches. Quite an accomplishment when you consider the odds. "If my broken vertebra had moved one millimeter more, I would not walk again," he says.

What Chris appreciated about the Queen team's approach was that they all encouraged him to focus on the next step—literally—and not get discouraged by the long road ahead. "Before I arrived at the Queen, I had moments where I felt I was going to go crazy," Chris recalls. "To almost die and then to spend 20 days in the hospital--you find out who you are, not just who you think you are.

How does Chris make every moment matter?

There's nothing like a near-fatal accident to remind you how precious every living moment can be. During his recovery, Chris realized that what matters most is the time spent with Carm, his wife of 14 years—walking the dogs together in the morning and eating dinner outside at night. "A friend told me there's trauma we do to ourselves and that which we do to our loved ones. Carm has experienced as much as I have," Chris says. "She's the only one who understands what I'm going through and supports my drive to be back to 100 percent.

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