Chandra: A World Not Built for Me

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Since losing her limbs, Chandra has had to relearn everything. After a medical emergency caused multi-organ failure, Chandra received several life-saving — and life-altering — amputations. The world beyond her hospital bed was suddenly and completely different, full of challenges she’d never known. Chandra shares with Stephanie just how much her faith has helped her see purpose in her pain, and, together, they explore the beauty that can come when you look for light in the darkness (including Chandra’s time wearing a sash and crown).

If you’d like to help Chandra make it to Ms. Wheelchair America, you can find her GoFundMe here.

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To follow along with a transcript, go to shortly after the air date.



Chandra, Stephanie Wittels Wachs

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  00:00

Hello listeners. Before we dive into this week’s episode, I wanted to give you a little update. It has been so exciting to bring the show to you more regularly giving you more Last Day stories with more variety than ever before. And don’t worry, we will continue to do more of the same but with one slight change. Instead of a new story every week, and then taking a big break to make new episodes, we will have a new episode every other week. So every other Wednesday, you will have a fresh episode of Last Day. Why you ask? Well, we’ve heard from you that the stories can be as challenging as they are uplifting, and we want to give every story the space and time it deserves. While consistently staying and your feed last day isn’t a show that’s caught in the dizzying and exhaustive news cycle. It’s actually a time to take a break from the never ending content stream that is dominating all of our lives and we want to do the best job we can delivering that to you. So TLDR from now on, you will have new episodes every other week, which means more of what you love, and more time to spend with it. Thanks so much for listening. Now on to the show.

Chandra  01:20

When I was in a coma for three weeks, I could still hear people. I heard my mom and my sister come in because they told all my family members that I wasn’t going to make it through the night so everybody was coming like it was like my home going service. I had a 1% chance of survival.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  01:39

It’s September of 2021 Chandra Smith is lying in a hospital bed as all of her family members pour in to say their goodbyes and prepare for the worst. Honestly, just the thought of being conscious enough to hear all of this but unable to react is absolutely chilling. But Chandra beats these one and 100 odds and eventually wakes up from her coma. Turns out, this was only the beginning.

Chandra  02:13

The doctor came in and said basically, your limbs are poisoning you. And if we don’t operate right now you are going to die. So I had two minutes to decide whether I wanted to live or die.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  02:41

This is LAST DAY, a show about the moments that change us. I’m Stephanie Wittels Wachs, a story of faith, the lengths we go to for the ones we love and what it feels like to wake up in a world that isn’t built for you.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  03:04

I want to start by going way back to when you were young and just kind of learn a little bit about your family and what it was like for you growing up. Just sort of a picture of you as a as a young person.

Chandra  03:17

So I grew up in Maryland, and PG County, aka pretty girl county.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  03:24

Obviously, obviously, I’m looking at you right now.

Chandra  03:31

Okay, so me as a young person, so I grew up in a family who you can say the least privilege. I grew up with a family that had to disable parents. So at a very young age, my mom had sarcoidosis, which is a debilitating lung disease. And my dad had four strokes. And my dad was the sole breadwinner. I have a sister that’s a year younger than me and we are both first generation college graduates. So I grew up in a family that although they didn’t get a chance to go to college themselves, but they definitely emphasize the way to get out of poverty, if you will, is to get an education and they were, you know extremely, very strict on my sister and I when it came to that.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  04:37

So school always came first it sounds like.

Chandra  04:42

Yes, yes, school always came first. I had a job at 15 and a nine months with the work permit because you know, being able to afford the basic necessities is very important special Usually, when you are on a fixed income, I definitely wanted better. My goal was to work as hard as I can, so that I can buy my mom house and things of that nature. So I wanted to be better than my parents and in a way of financial security.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  05:31

Her mom’s chronic health condition, limited daily activities, including job opportunities. But Chandra saw the way she was determined to do everything she could to provide a better life for Chandra and her siblings.

Chandra  05:46

My mom, she just boss through life, she never let her disability define who she was or what she could do. And as a role model, for myself, I’ve always seen that this no matter what circumstances you are dealt, it doesn’t have to be how you finish.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  06:09

And is that something really that your mother you feel like instilled in y’all at a young age?

Chandra  06:14

Yes, my mother is the reason why my sister and I are in public service. Because, you know, she inspired me not only by her words, for by her deeds, and I just saw how she just gave off herself to the community and others around her. Despite her disability, she’s always put others before herself.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  06:45

Guided by the example, her mother set and determined to build a better life for herself and her family. Chandra eventually sets her sights on a career with the US government.

Chandra  06:57

I am a federal employee is just another term for like officer, you know, just working under the DoD umbrella. So yeah.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  07:11

That sounds very fancy.

Chandra  07:15

It’s really not.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  07:19

Under this DoD umbrella, Chandra is working primarily in it. And at some point, her department is tasked with assembling a team for 508 compliance, which is basically the law that requires all federal electronic content to be accessible.

Chandra  07:36

My agency was standing up a IT accessibility office, and they needed a IT engineer who could for example, look at a hearing aid and how those who utilize hearing aids could still work in a skiff and you know, have the Bluetooth and looking at those components, as well as 508 policy data gathering. So I had to learn everything there is about assistive technology, how to remediate those issues, how to get those things into a classified environment. This wasn’t something that was taught in any, you know, it or engineering class I’ve ever taken. It’s not something that was, you know, I had to deal with in any other job.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  08:29

Chandra begins diving into the world of universal design, designing for the eight and the 80 year old. As she puts it, she was responsible for ensuring accessibility for all, despite the fact that she wasn’t living with any disabilities herself. But she was raised with a strong sense of empathy and compassion, partially because she was raised around disability and partially due to her faith. She identifies as a Southern Baptist. It’s an evangelical Christian Church, that places a lot of value on prayer and devotion. Faith is fundamental to her family, and it’s guided her throughout her entire life.

Chandra  09:15

It’s always the notion of you are who you are when nobody’s watching. So just installing those principles, if you will, of how to govern yourself and love thy neighbor is a is a big part of that.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  09:35

So let’s fast forward to 2020 a time when things start to change a lot for most of us the preexisting conditions that both her parents live with, now put them at higher risk for COVID. So Chandra is stuck in that familiar place of wanting to be there for them, but also wanting to ensure their safety.

Chandra  09:58

I was trying to keep My distance from my mother because I was still going into work and then the Coronavirus and lung condition Coronavirus, bad combination. So I will think about that, my gosh, yes, so I had to kinda like, you know, bring them groceries would just leave it at the door, and my mom would always still try to give me a hug and stuff, but I didn’t want to, I had to keep my distance from my parents. So I would talk to my mom on the phone, and she couldn’t really have long conversations without running out of oxygen. And, you know, just seeing how she went from doing everything in the house, to you know, needing help with chores and things of that and daily living things and, you know, just not having energy. So like lung capacity got so low, that she had to be hospitalized, and she had to have continuous oxygen. So the oxygen tanks became not enough. And then we tried to get her on the list for a long, and you have to go through all these tasks. And if your name isn’t already on that donors list, and you have to get a certain score, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you know, I have my own issues with the US healthcare system. So there’s a lot to that.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  11:41

As her mom’s condition worsened, chanter was trying everything she could to care for her through proper medical channels, navigating the very complex US healthcare system. But she also firmly believed that that wasn’t the only way she could help her. God would need to pick up where her earthly efforts left off. So she leaned hard into her faith, the Christianity that was such a part of the fabric of her family, in hopes that she could save her mom. And one of the ways she had been taught to do this was through intense prayer and religious fasting.

Chandra  12:22

Fasting is sacrifice. So you give up something that you love in return, you know, so your patience obedience, and you go into your ward and you go into prayer. So fasting I did a water only fast so I sustained from something I love and it’s food. So yes, in at this time, I was you know, praying for my mother. Some sort of breakthrough or whatever, but you know, sometimes it’s hard because we don’t know God’s will. Or if you’re not religious, or the universe or something beyond yourself. Sometimes we feel as though that we can make a plan and it will work out but as they say, he want to make God laugh, make a plan. That’s true. My thought process I was thinking, Okay, I will do this fast. I will be in my word, I will sacrifice then. Something great will happen for my mom.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  13:40

And was that great thing like if you could have waved the magic wand at the end of your fast and gotten exactly what you want? Was it that your mom would get a transplant? Was it that Yes. Was that what you were hoping for?

Chandra  13:53


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  14:09

We’re back in an attempt to do everything possible to help her mother Chandra leans on her faith. She begins a religious fast, abstaining from everything except water and praying for good news. You have not had one ounce of solid food in seven days. Yes. What is happening with your body? Like how does that even Can you like even try to describe what it feels like?

Chandra  14:40

It basically feels like you’re dying. You have no energy. You people described it as a like a like you have so much mental clarity but I don’t know if it’s just that you’re just in a daze because You’re hungry. I don’t know if it’s really mental clarity, or but after a certain point, I just felt very, very, you don’t even think about food anymore. You just try to go on because you’re just so tired. In this draining.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  15:19

Chandra wanted to save her mom’s life, period, full stop. And aside from the medical channels, the tools in her toolbox were prayer, devotion and religious fasting. So that is what she pulled out and used. When my own daughter was diagnosed with hearing loss, just two weeks old. I pulled out all the tools I had in my toolbox, which were hard work, tenacity, and relentless hustle. By the time this kid was five weeks old, she had an appointment with every specialist in the Houston metropolitan area. She was literally the youngest baby to ever be enrolled in speech therapy. We do what we know to help the people we love the most. So when her mother’s health took a turn for the worse, Chandra sprung into action and the best way she knew how. Now keep in mind that Chandra has still been going to work every day at her intense government job pushing through the exhaustion and kind of living in a daze. And it’s on this seventh day, September 8 2021, that things start to unravel. In fact, she finally breaks her fast because she just cannot take it anymore. So she heats up some vegan chicken nuggets and gulps down some lemonade. Only problem, according to her is that it sends her body into shock. It is a sugar rush like none other and she starts fading in and out of consciousness.

Chandra  16:50

My mom calls me every day. So when I didn’t answer the phone since I lived by myself. Next thing, you know, people were breaking my door down, because my mom told them. That’s not my like my daughter. I haven’t heard from her. Break the door.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  17:14

Who was that? That broke the door down.

Chandra  17:16

She was trying to get the maintenance people to do it. They were saying that they can’t do it. And I guess the paramedics or fire department? I have no idea.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  17:31

And so do they take you? Do they rush you to the hospital?

Chandra  17:34

Yes, they were the paramedics were asking me questions like, you know, and I wasn’t responding. But I remember seeing some of it like going in and out. And then they rushed me to the hospital. And at this point, I’m having multi organ failure. They are trying to resuscitate and do everything because my heart slightly stopped only for a few seconds.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  18:05

And it wasn’t just her heart. Almost all of her vital organs were going absolutely haywire at this point.

Chandra  18:13

My lungs collapsed. So I was on a ventilator. My kidneys failed. So I was on dialysis for a bit. My liver failed. And then I was in a coma for three weeks, and I had a stroke.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  18:26

Oh my gosh, did you have any idea as this was happening? Were you alert? Were you in the driver’s seat here and your mind like seeing what was going on? Or were you out of it?

Chandra  18:36

Yes. So when I was in a coma for three weeks, I could still hear people. I heard my mom and my sister come in and I heard you know, a couple of my family members because they told all my family members that I wasn’t going to make it through the night. I had a 1% chance of survival. Whoa, yes, yes. So is one of those situations?

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  19:06

I cannot believe the number that just came out of your mouth. Yes. So is there a diagnosis? Are they saying like you are experiencing blank. This is why you know, do you have any words for what’s happening?

Chandra  19:20

So they’re saying that my body went to ketosis. Everything is just out of whack. All these proteins are building up in your body is like breaking down because you don’t have adequate protein intake and all of these other things. So that’s what’s causing the multi organ failure. And they didn’t think you were gonna wake up from this coma. No. They didn’t even know why I was in a coma. We was like we don’t know why. This is what they told my family. We don’t know why she’s in a coma. We don’t know if she’s going to wake up. They actually consulted politic care. I’m, and was thinking to put me in hospice because, according to them three weeks is a long time. I don’t really think is a long time, but they think it’s a long time.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  20:15

After these three weeks have passed, she does wake up, but upon doing so, she immediately realizes that her limbs have turned black, she can’t move at all, and she is in extreme pain. While this is all extremely shocking to Chandra, it had been puzzling her medical team for the past few weeks as well. See, when she was first hospitalized with organ failure, she was given medication that was supposed to help turn things around. But it seems like it might have done the opposite. What the doctors did know is that Chandra developed severe sepsis is seriously life threatening blood infection. And that eventually led to an even more dangerous and more complicated condition called DIC. At this point, it is clear that even though she’s woken up from this coma, she’s certainly not out of the woods.

Chandra  21:10

I basically was dying, I remember the, I’m in the hospital. And, you know, they send my sister up there, and she’s crying. And I’m like, quandary Don’t be asked me, you know, just give it to, like, you know, bottom line up front, like what’s happening, because I, you know, I saw my limbs were black, I didn’t know why. And then I had all these wounds, like, you know, burns over 25% of my body, because of the medication as well. So, like, I was in all these bandages and stuff, and, you know, and I couldn’t move my limbs at all, I couldn’t move anything. And, of course, you know, was like, had like a trach, and stuff like that so. And the doctor came in and said, basically, your limbs are poisoning you. And if we don’t operate right now, you are going to die. So I had two minutes to decide whether I wanted to live or die.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  22:28

Oh my gosh.

Chandra  22:29

So it was basically limb or life.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  22:37

What on earth went through your mind, in this 10 minute window?

Chandra  22:45

All I could think about is, you know, I just pray to put it in God’s hands and I wanted to live for my mother. I wanted her to see me make it out it is.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  23:12

In the end, Chandra chose life. But when she woke up from surgery, everything about her life was completely different.

Chandra  23:23

I ended up having a above knee amputation of my right leg, which is my driving leg kind of sucks. Yes, and then my left leg I had about 10 surgeries and I lost my toes on that, and I lost my left hand. My left hand is completely amputated. And my right hand was affected by the stroke. So I lost ability in all foreign limbs. So you wake up, you’re living your best life. I just been promoted at work. I’m an IT engineer. I’m on the you know, way to the top, I’m working I’m volunteering in the community. And then something like this that changes your life forever. It’s like my life changed in a blink of an eye. And I woke up in a world that wasn’t built for me. And I immediately immediately saw the difference of how I was looked at and treated and how that other ism that ableism is very prevalent.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  24:43

That is really complicated.

Chandra  24:46

Yes, it’s like a another identity. You know, I already know what it’s like to be a woman in a you know, intelligence agency and an IT career field. That’s primarily nominated by you know, white men, but, and I know what it feels like to be born in a body in your, you know, a black female, you know low income, I know what that feels like I know how to live that. But then you tag on disability. And it’s not, I’m not disabled because I’m a triple amputee, I’m disabled because his world isn’t built for me.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  25:42

We’re back with Chandra Smith.

Chandra  25:45

So people always ask me what it’s like to have two lives, if you will. And how everything goes for me in a day today. And I the only way to describe it is to tell someone to get a piece of paper and sign your name. Some people would just pick up the paper and sign their name, whatever dominant hand that they have, right? Now get that same pencil or pen and sign your name with your lease dominant hand. What do you notice different about that? Maybe it’s not legible. Maybe with some practice, it will become legible. But it’s never going to be that muscle memory as with your right hand. Now try going through life with no hands. At least two working hands that is. So I had to learn how to live life again.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  26:49

When Chandra gave this analogy on our call, everything started to click for me just how different her life had become. It actually made me think of an experience I had years ago where the same kind of aha moment took place. And since this is a podcast, I think an audio example might be even more helpful for us all to experience the tiniest fraction of what Chandra was faced with. I will never forget when Iris was first diagnosed with hearing loss and the doctors played me this little clip from the Flintstones to help me understand how things sounded to her. So here’s the clip. Okay, this is what it’s like for people without hearing loss. So people with typical hearing like myself 1234567 You’re on my apartment building on Grand Avenue you owe me 300 bucks. All right. Now here’s what it sounds like for someone with moderate hearing loss, which is what Iris has. I need you to understand that hearing this absolutely blew my mind at the time. Like any doubts I was holding on to that perhaps she didn’t actually need hearing aids, they were completely squashed. After hearing this tape, it was so crystal clear that without assistive technology, the world would be incredibly difficult for her to navigate. But with assistive technology, she would have the same access to sound as everyone else. Still, there is something to be said for the fact that my daughter will never hear the Flintstones the way most of us do. This is and has always been completely normal for her. Chandra, however, has experienced life both ways as a fully able bodied person moving through a world built for other able bodied people. And she’s now living in a world that is not built for her at all. So there’s an accompanying sense of loss. What was their grief around that? What was that like?

Chandra  29:07

Yes, it was grieving. Everything of my old life. I’m still who I am. I just believe that when you go through trauma, it just makes you more of who you are. But there’s also a sense of loss, a sense of loss of ability, especially the way it happened and you just feel like well and no for me in the beginning, I felt like something was taken from me. And I didn’t have the really the opportunity to really prepare. It’s like how do you prepare to go from being this very, you know, energetic, athletic person working two jobs, you know, able to do pretty much anything Ah, to a reality where, you know, there is some limitations.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  30:07

Yeah. Well, in the way you paint yourself, and I mean, I, I’ve been on the phone with you for an hour, and I can see that determination. And that sort of, I’m going to do whatever I set my mind to, to then suddenly be in a body where you do have limitations.

Chandra  30:32

Yes. And the funny part is, is just like people was like, you can be whatever you want to be, and as long as you work hard, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But people don’t realize that that’s still microaggressions. Right? Because the reality of it is that, yes, you can put with limitations, there is some limitations that, that I now have imposed on my life that I didn’t have before.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  31:03

Do those like aphorisms make you insane? You can do anything you put your mind to? Does it just make you want to rip your hair out?

Chandra  31:10

Yes, yes, yes. And I know people mean, well, but the reality of it is that, you know, that that’s, that’s not the case. Because there is, for example, as take my job, there was even some challenges going back to work, because really, I had two options, like, should I medically retire from the agency and take Social Security? Or go back and be an officer? Can I be an officer again? Can I still do my job? Yes, I can do my job. But the job I was doing, I do it now with assistive technology. You know, like you, there’s just certain things, and I know people are probably gonna be like, other people in the disabled community are gonna be like, Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe she said that.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  32:03

But it’s the truth. For Chandra, the stark realities of her new life often leave her with more questions than answers, especially when it comes to pondering all the what ifs.

Chandra  32:17

So what if I had something written? You know, most people in their 30s? Don’t think about that, right? But what if I had something written that said, if my heart stopped, do not resuscitate. Or do not give me medication? I don’t know if I can be that specific that will lead to being a triple amputee, but I wish I had something that Blaze you know, but you don’t think about these things, right? As a young person, you think you’re invincible. You never think that the life happens to everyone?

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  32:50

You were so right, you do not know what is coming. You do not know what is coming next. But that’s so interesting, like so. Do you wish you had had a medical directive that said, don’t? Don’t give me this medication?

Chandra  33:05

Yes. Like it sounds really horrible. And a lot of people might think like, Oh, you don’t want to be part of the disabled community. But at the same time is I knew a life before this.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  33:22

Chandra is living with the decisions that she and her doctors made. And as she’s learning how to move through this new world, with this new set of limitations, she’s discovering all the small and often unseen ways that these obstacles manifest.

Chandra  33:38

Remember, I mentioned the little micro aggressions. So it’s kinda like a mosquito bite, you know, sure, you can live with one mosquito bite, man, maybe two, but 1000 You’re going to need some sort of help. So going through all of that at once. So now I’m in this different life, this different body and people treat you differently. I noticed I can be with my nephew and we will go to someplace simple like Chipotle. And they will talk to him and I talk to me and I’m the one with the money so stuff like that. So you know, you’re just you just become more of who you are. Because, you know, the critical thinking creativity is enhanced when you have to figure out you know, how do I do something as simple as a dress myself and feed myself and I live independently. So first, I had to find an assessable apartment and because there’s no rules and Marilyn, for those ADA apartments, people without disabilities can rent those apartments. So when I could find one it was still it will be ADA assessable. But there will be things because I am a triple amputee and I use a wheelchair for mobility. I don’t have the dexterity for a you know, like the little keys and things so I had to get them to create a combination punch code.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  35:31

Adjusting to this new life hasn’t been easy. But neither was the journey to get here. After her amputation, she bounced around to a few different hospitals for rehab and recovery. She actually wasn’t even officially released from the hospital until September 9 2022. A year and a day since she was first admitted. And she still receives ongoing treatment. This made things even more difficult when Chandra’s mother began to reach the end of her life. About seven months after Chandra was first hospitalized. Chandra was still in a rehab hospital that was able to see her mom a few times while she was on life support.

Chandra  36:12

We took my mom off of life support because that’s what she wanted. So I got to be there. And I got to hold her hand as she took her last breath. And, and I heard her last heartbeat.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  36:31

And how is it like dealing with this? Overlapping grief? It’s like, you’re dealing with the loss of your limbs, and then your mother on top of it. Like how did you even cope with all of that?

Chandra  36:46

So and then that goes back to having that spirituality as just that, you know, the most high doesn’t put more on you than you can bear. So if I’m going to it, it must mean that I can get through this, this too shall pass. When it was me in the hospital was just me and the Lord, I’ll be like, you know, Lord, why can I just get like the burning bush? And or the dove or like, you know, some other like, biblical thing happening? You know, I mean, if you want to be to go to disability advocacy, I mean, you need Oh, could I just gotten a message somewhere. But, you know, that would be nice. But because I’m such a logical person, it’s like, it wouldn’t have been enough. It had to be something that can’t be explained. That’s like a miracle. So something that, that science could make sense of it. So that I would know. It was him. You know, it’s just is it’s just something that cannot be explained. So I had to it had to be this way. We all have a a purpose. And I feel that perhaps this is part of my story, my journey.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  38:21

So you really do feel like this happened for a reason?

Chandra  38:27

I do. I know that there were there is pain, there is purpose. And my story will be somebody else’s Survival Guide.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  38:41

This whole experience has driven Chandra to become an advocate to fight for universal design. So the world is more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities. And to be honest, maybe this really was all part of some higher powers plan. Because, you know, even before all of this happened, her literal job was helping people with disabilities. That is what the 508 compliance work was focused on. That is a wild coincidence. And it was truly random that you were assigned that.

Chandra  39:16

Truly random. They were like, okay, so you’re really good at doing your current job. How would you like to be a part of the 508 team or standing up this initiative and I have always been interested in helping people. So having a job that really adds value is what I wanted to do. But now being part of this community. I’m just making the agency and everywhere around me aware of universal design has now become a life journey for me So I want to make it better for the next person coming in, right? And you have to think to yourself, This is a club that God forbid anybody can join at any time. So you really want to show empathy, just trying to see where someone is coming from and how that can make a difference in someone’s life.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  40:29

Is that process really difficult trying to sort of fight for?

Chandra  40:33

Yes, it is a you fighting for everything, constantly fighting in, you know, at your job for accommodations, you’re fighting in the community for accommodations, you’re fighting the US health care system to do the right thing. It’s just like you’re fighting against society with you know, a holistic views and, you know, stigma and things of that nature. So you’re just constantly fighting.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  41:03

And constantly fighting can take a toll. But it can also be super fun. Which actually takes us to how we found Chandra in the first place. Can you tell me how you got involved with Miss wheelchair? Maryland?

Chandra  41:20

Yes, so my occupational therapist, sent me an email, and the email went like this opportunity will be great for you. I think you should check this out. And I saw Miss wheelchair, Maryland. And I was like, What is this? sounded very, the name gives pageant. Yeah, so it was modeled after traditional pageants. And I’m like, What am I gonna be like wearing a bikini in my wheelchair or something. So that that is the image that I got. But then I started doing more research. And I said to myself, you know, I learned about the mission and the values in the sisterhood of it, and, you know, all of the platforms and the advocacy, and what they were really working on, you know, public speaking, leadership, interviewing techniques and things of that nature. So, I felt like this is the type this is my type of beautiful. And this really looking towards the inner beauty.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  42:34

And you won.

Chandra  42:36


Stephanie Wittels Wachs  42:42

But now, this means that you get to go to miss wheelchair America, correct?

Chandra  42:47

Yes, yes, I get to go to miss wheelchair America, and meet you know, 35 other, you know, women with their platforms, their stories, and it’s always interesting to meet others on this journey, whether they acquired a disability or was born with a disability.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  43:10

Oh my gosh, I’m so excited to hear about the results of the Miss wheelchair America Pageant pageant. What do you call it a pageant a competition?

Chandra  43:22

I call it an advocacy.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  43:28

I mean it’s kind of cool I’m sorry like it’s very cool.

Chandra  43:36

Like yes, it is a flex is like oh, like has your heart ever stopped? Oh, okay.

Stephanie Wittels Wachs  43:43

Have you ever had a 1% chance of surviving and then did?

Chandra  43:52

The greatest flex, you know?

CREDITS  43:55

There’s even more LAST DAY with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content like an AMA with yours truly. AMA stands for Ask Me Anything in case you didn’t know. So just FYI and FYI means for your information. So subscribe now in Apple Podcasts. LAST DAY is a production of Lemonada Media. The show is produced by Kegan Zema, Aria Bracci, and Tiffany Bui. Our engineer is Brian Castillo. Music is by Hannis Brown. Steve Nelson is our Vice President of weekly content and production and Jackie Danziger is our Vice President of narrative content and production. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and me Stephanie Wittels Wachs. If you’d like what you heard today, we have three other seasons that you can check out. Have a story you’d like to share, head to, or click the link in the show notes to fill out our confidential Google Form. follow and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership. You can find us online at @LemonadaMedia and you can find me at @WittelStephanie. Thank you for listening, we will see you next week.

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