Lisa Hanover and K9 Layla
My name is Lisa Hanover. I was born and raised in Red Lake ON. I grew up living above my parents’ restaurant. I was very involved I gymnastics and would do gymnastics everywhere and anywhere I could. When I was in 2nd grade, I caught my toe on the vault and broke my arm. My mom drove me to the hospital in the next town. During the trip all I could do was look at my arm that had 2 elbows and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. That’s when I knew that I had to go into the medical field.
In high school I moved in with my mom in Fort Frances, ON. This is where I met my husband in 1993. We went to the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis together. I attained my mastered degree in Applied Kinesiology or sports medicine. Mason and I were married in 1999 and have been happily married since. We have two boys 17 and 21.
In the fall of 2012, my husband opened the daily flyer and saw an add for an EMT class that was starting, he laughed and threw the paper out. I spent 3 days contemplating about taking the course. So, in 2013 I passed my EMT national certification and started working as an EMT in International Falls, MN. I loved the job and was encouraged by my chief to go on and take my paramedic certification. While doing my ride longs for school I choose to do all my ride longs in the fire service. I liked the environment, the teamwork the family dynamic and the comradery. This is when I knew I wanted to be a firefighter/paramedic. I applied to the Virginia Fire Department and accepted the position with a start date of August 19, 2015.
In June of 2016 I moved my family to Britt, MN, 10 minutes from Virginia. The first year was good. The boys thrived in school, made many friends, excelled in their sports. My job was going well, our family business was good. As more ff/medics were hired I started to become a senior medic and got more responsibilities, which I was excited about. Then it felt like my world crashed and I could not dig myself out. I have my first peds code that I was the lead medic on, and I spent a year thinking that I was the reason that the child did not make it. I was hard on myself, went to the doctor and was put on 2 different antidepressants. I tied to find a therapist I vibe with but could not.
During this time my son found drugs and the drugs tool over. I spent 2 years vomiting, in a ball on the floor in a panic attack, breathing so fast my hands would go numb. I went to the ED several times to get help breaking the cycle of the anxiety. My oldest son ran away 3 or 4 times, attempted suicide 3 times, over dosed 3 times. Also, during this time, I had 3 more peds codes, one of which was an infant who was left in a structure fire.
I would go to the stress of work to get away from the stress at home. At work I felt like I could be helpful and home I felt like I was drowning, like nothing that I was doing was working. Then in 2020 covid happened and my kids had to stay home to do school. Their friend from down the street didn’t have internet so he spent all day at my house with my boys. After spending 6 months together their friend was killed in a horrific accident. The accident devastated both of my boys, my oldest turned to drugs and was very high when he was in an accident. He had a cut on his lip which I thought was from the accident. It was not, it was from his friend wrestling the gun out of his mouth while he tried to shoot himself earlier that night. My younger son went into such a deep depression that he would not get out of bed for days, would not eat, would not talk. He could not return to school; his anxiety was so high that he would throw up every morning. Two months into the school year he was pulled for school and started home schooling.
Both my sons are in better places now. My oldest spent 9 months total in Hazelden and is now 19 months clean. My youngest is still at home, he works at the family business and is working on his GED. I had been working with a therapist who specializes in PTSD and first responders. I have been seeing her every week and am still working on getting the courage to go into my son’s room, or even into the basement where his room is. I must drive by so many scenes that bring back bad memories.
In September 2021 I stepped in a hole in the basement of my firehall. While working on recovering from that I developed a DVT in my upper arm and was on blood thinners for a minimum of 6 months before they could pause the thinners in order to do my surgery. I had ankle reconstruction surgery in April 2022 and am on the mend, though I still have not returned to work. I thought it was getting better, however last week I went on a trip, I was in a panic the entire time, and ended up having a panic attack on the plane on the way home. I was taken to the hospital where I was treated for anxiety due to PTSD.
I have a little girl who is one year old, and we have a strong bond, I feel that I she helps me with my anxiety. Layla is such a caring girl in the house she follows me around like she is my shadow. She sleeps with me and sits with me, she can feel when I need her, she will grab my hand and force her head under my hand in order to help me.