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After a tragic accident took his leg, he found peace through 'sawdust therapy'

After a tragic accident took his leg, he found peace through 'sawdust therapy'
Posted at 8:53 PM, Apr 20, 2022

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- In your time of need, solace can be found in unique places. Dan Nord has spent more than a decade in pain and found his peace making sawdust.

"It's just calming. Gives me a sense of purpose again. I call it sawdust therapy," Nord said.

"It's heartbreaking to watch him hurt. There's not been a day that he hasn't hurt since the accident," Christie Nord, Dan's wife, said.

On November 8, 2009, Dan and his partner were on their Chesterfield County Harley David Motorcycles when they clocked a car at more than 90 miles per hour.

"The cars got out of the way and then they came back and they closed in on me and in my attempt to not hit the cars and not hit my partner, I was high sided off the motorcycle and I flew from the southbound lanes at Courthouse into the northbound lanes of Courthouse Road, just past Reems Road," Dan said.

Dan ended up at VCU Medical Center.

"They might have said the accident was non-life-threatening but it was definitely life-changing," Dan said.

Dan had spent 11 years with the Chesterfield County Police.

After a tragic accident took his leg, he found peace through 'sawdust therapy'

"Loved it, loved it. I'd go back today if they let me," Dan said.

But since that November day, Dan has endured pain.

"I've had 18 major surgeries and hundreds of outpatient procedures and thousands of hours of therapy since. Yesterday, I was down getting lumbar injections to correct some issues I'm having with my spine," Dan said.

"It's been hard. Probably the first five years were the hardest. He's my superman. We've been together since we were very young and to see him go through so much pain and not be able to do things," Christie said.

The major injury from his crash was to his right ankle. Even over the course of years of surgery, procedures couldn't fully fix the injury.

"Unfortunately, throughout all of this, I was allergic to the metals that were in the implants that they were putting in and that's how I lost my leg," Dan said.

Dan lost his leg in January 2020.

"Last year was the first year we went a whole year without a surgery," Christie said.

While the road to recovery has been a struggle, the couple has tried their best to remain optimistic.

After a tragic accident took his leg, he found peace through 'sawdust therapy'

"But the answer all along was to do this, to make life better for him because now he does have a quality of life," Christie said.

That quality of life comes to life in Dan's woodworking.

"I can see a finished product at the end of the day, you can see something that starts out so rough, that doesn't look like anything, and you can actually turn it into something that's beautiful," Dan said.

In the beginning, what was made was strictly for family and friends.

"I'd basically pray over this stuff as I was making it to watch over them and their families from wherever they hunt it up," Dan said.

Now, Dan has taken his work on the road, selling it at local shows.

"I feel like I have a special connection with each one of my pieces," Dan said.

Dan has also begun to share his craft with those around him.

After a tragic accident took his leg, he found peace through 'sawdust therapy'

"I've invited some other folks to do sawdust therapy with me and you just visit and the woodworking is just the benefit of it," Dan said.

The mental and physical recovery is still a work in progress. However, the person who Dan is today is far different than the one he was years ago.

"Not quite as angry, not as upset. I still get frustrated but I feel like the more time I'm out here, the less it affects me. It's really soothing," Dan said.

With another November anniversary ahead, Christie said that life keeps getting better for their family.

"He is amazing. What he has endured and what he does to try and make everything right for our family, he is my hero. He'll always be my hero," Christie said.

Dan said his new leg, which he just got, makes walking easier. He is hopeful that this one will help alleviate some of the pain in his hips and back.