Elliott's Road to Wellness

$86,242 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 435 people in 10 months
2 weeks before our wedding, Elliott was involved in a life-changing motorcycle accident. He suffered a broken left shoulder & humerus, fractured sacrum (which resulted in a fusion of L4 & L5 with titanium rods fixed to his pelvis), fractured right pelvis, left leg below knee amputation, 8 blood transfusions, 2 plasma transfusions and severe PTSD.

As a result of the injuries...
- Elliott will transfer to a skilled nursing facility (for up to 10 weeks) to begin physical therapy while his pelvis heals. Once the fractured pelvis  learn how walk again with his new prosthetic limb
- I must move us out of our rent controlled apartment, since Elliott cannot use stairs for months after PT. 
- Our lives are all about spiritual, nutritional and physical healing. 110% our energies are going into healing. 

We need your help with... 
- Medical bills 
- Moving expenses 
- The nature of the injuries will prevent Elliott from working in the near term
- I am on LOA from work to handle the array of follow ups, paperwork and logistics for our move. 
- Plus the things that I have no idea that we need. I'm sure there will be a lot. 

What we've learned through all of this...
1. Life is precious and can change in an instant.
2. Community is everything. People will show up for you in ways you can't imagine.
3. Ask for help. It's so important to allow people to show up for you.
4. Attitude is everything.
5. Be present.

Please help us get back to our much enjoyed walks together.
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What a year. There were times it felt like it would never end and well, here we are. It’s almost over. Finally. Elliott and I have often discussed how silly the concept of a new year is. It’s not like we wake up on January 1 and things are magically new. This year it’s different. We have hope that 2018 will be better.

It’s been some time since I’ve written an update on our recovery. A part of me feels like referring to it, as “our” recovery is selfish. I’ve always wanted to be an “our” or a “we”. Elliott is walking 8,000-10,000 steps per day, which is more than some Americans with 2 working feet. He commutes to work on BART. Prior to BART, he would drive to work. Commuting can bring out the worst in people. It was a stressful experience and a daily reminder of how much easier commuting on a motorcycle is. It’s also much cooler…

Elliott is participating in a study at work and trying out new prosthetic technologies. He’s also started learning how to rock climb. We’ve even gone on a couple of bike rides together. The hardest part of returning to an activity post trauma is expectations can really screw with your head. The challenge of getting on his bike, was the thinking of which foot he would use to push off with. The challenge for me was not running to his side to help and try to make it better. He had to figure it out. I had to hold space for him to do so.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome has been how we navigate our partnership. Transitioning from caregiver to wife has been hard. As Elliott gained independence, his resentment for my caregiver role increased. We had many discussions about how it was impacting our relationship. Some of those chats were timely and others were at the brink of destruction. We are both strong people. It was a big deal (and still is) for Elliott to gain independence. His identity was stripped and he was left unable to do anything for himself. The fact that he is commuting, cooking, climbing, and going on coffee dates with friends is a god damned miracle.

As for me, stepping out of that caregiver role has been a bit like shedding skin. I’m now focused on my recovery. Practicing meditation, yoga and getting my health in order are at the top of my agenda. I didn’t realize how utterly exhausted I was until I slowed down. It was the strangest thing not having to care for Elliott anymore. It became what I did. Once that came to an end, I’d like to say I turned the focus inward, but I didn’t. I started coaching roller derby again. Being around those women fueled me. It put the wind in my sails to get through the summer. Once the season came to an end, I was tired all over again. It’s been a slow process, but I am finally coming to.

Tonight I am heading to a 2-hour yoga class. It’s become a tradition for me over the past 3 years. Elliott is spending time with friends and then we’re heading to another friends house to enjoy some food and good people. We have collard greens and black-eyed peas cooking, which Elliott made while I typed this update. Tomorrow we plan to jump into the Pacific Ocean and wash off 2017.

It is with all our love and energy that we wish everyone a happy and healthy new year. Hold the people in your life close to you. Be kind to your neighbors and smile at a stranger. It matters. And so do you.
Looking ahead to 2018!
Biking together!
Rock Climbing!
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Game Changer.

Today was a turning point. We went to our first workout together since the accident. It can be hard to return to a routine once a bad memory is attached. It was on the way to our Saturday workout when Elliott got into the accident. We've had so many great Saturday morning workouts. Why should one morning ruin that opportunity forever?

The hardest part about going back to the Saturday routine is how our bodies will feel over the next 2 days, not the memory of March 25th. That day changed us for ever, but it didn't break us. It made us stronger. We went into this as a team and we will take on life as a team. We will do what we can. One day at a time. Sometimes, one moment at a time. And if that means taking a different route to the gym to find some semblance of normalcy, than that's what we'll do. The only demons that haunt us are the ones we give permission to.

Walking.

Tonight we went on a date! It was lovely. Elliott left the house without his cane for the first time. We got to hold hands and walk down the street. I walked on the side of the cane and played that role when needed. We stopped a few times, not to rest, but for Elliott to adjust his ankle and foot. At one point I asked if he wanted to head back to the car. He replied, "If I get tired, I'll just have you pick me up. I want to keep walking until I get to that point". Thankfully, It never got to that point. A stranger took this photo of us. I love it.
Just a couple on a date. No big deal.
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What we've been up to:
So much has changed since the last update. Elliott is walking more and more each day, he's 100% off pain medication and I'm back to work. Elliott is taking it slow getting back to work. Recovery and mobility is still his full time job. I've included a few clips of him walking + an overview of how he puts on his leg. It's pretty cool! https://vimeo.com/224787883/f4beba022b

Time flies...
The world keeps spinning, people drive fast, push to get to the front, ignore the needs of those in need and text while driving. The past few months have taught me that as a culture, we move too fast. Rushing to get to an appointment, forgetting the important thing we need and taking it out on pedestrians, loved ones and strangers. Time flies and I'm trying today to make the most of my spot on this planet. In the meantime, I'm practicing compassion for those that don't get it today and for myself when it happens to me. Because it will and does.

Generation Give to match donations!
We've been blessed by a donor who has generously offered to match up to $2500 in donations. Generation Give is a 501c3 non-profit organization that supports children’s education, feeding the hungry, and programs relieving suffering from disease. Thank you Generation Give for the support and love! http://gen-give.com/

With love and gratitude,
The Van Fleets
Elliott has a FitBit on his prosthetic
Walking with no leg
First walk with his leg
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In the beginning...

we had little wins each day. I could report that Elliott had rolled over or sat up. Everyday was a new miracle. It was like watching a flower bloom.

Today is different. I don't watch his every move. Elliott is gaining strength and increased mobility through his daily physical therapy with Mary. He is now using the walker!

Their focus is on increased mobility for his shoulder, core/gluteal strength and turning on muscles that remain dormant. The advanced exercises and stretches are preparing him to walk. He is very sore and the only thing that relieves the pain is more movement. Most mornings he wakes up and turns to me to say, "I think we need to take it slow today". Then, PT begins and he goes full bore.

We are waiting patiently for one last scab to fall from his leg before he can be fit for his prosthetic. When gone, he will be on to walking. This lesson is the importance of preparation. The work he does today conditions him for tomorrow.

The daily.

The hospital bed is gone and we are now sharing a bed again. He gets in and out of the bed & car, cooks, showers and most of the occupational skills we take for granted each day. He even drove us to breakfast yesterday. I still prefer to be the driver : )

As many of you know, Elliott and I are recovering alcoholics. We are both very proud to share this with the world and see it as a super power. I am happy to report Elliott is down to one pain medication per day. His dedication to sobriety and finding alternative methods of pain management are extremely impressive.

Time tells a story...

and only time will reveal our life purpose. When I am in the moment, I am completely accepting and fulfilled. When I dwell on the past or the future, I am suffering.
The walker!
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Read a Previous Update
Bradee Evans
10 months ago
2
2

Way to go guys! I love the video!

+ Read More
Connie Ybarra
10 months ago
1
1

Hammer, I am so sorry, for not reading your story first; I went straight to the donation portion and comment. Please forgive me for not getting all my facts first. I will pray for you and Elliott, for strength and peace for both of you.

+ Read More
Geoff Turner
1 month ago

Really enjoyed reading the new year update guys. Elliott you are looking fit and fine man and I can't wait for the day we can go for a ride together, I'll leave the rock climbing to you :)

+ Read More
Jane Barker
1 month ago

Dear Jen & Elliott, First off, Happy New Year to both of you! Second - Jen - I can understand, and relate to, that utter exhaustion of being a care-giver. I have been playing that role, though for a lot shorter time than you, with my Father. I take my hat off to you! Third - Elliott - It is wonderful to hear that you are regaining your independence, and taking up new hobbies! You are amazing! I wish both of you a 2018 filled with joy and much laughter. Jane Barker.

+ Read More
Everette Van Fleet
6 months ago

Great date huh? And the Courage to know the difference. Keep up the good work ------------> Both of you. I really appreciate the updates Jen.

+ Read More
Kyle Peterson
7 months ago

Way to go, Elliott! It's so great to see you recovering and keeping the positive attitude. Thank you, Jen, for the updates and keep them coming!

+ Read More
Josie Ruth Steiger
8 months ago

I love that you are still keeping us updated on all of his progress. You both have been such an inspiration. I'm proud of both of you in so many ways!

+ Read More
Amy Berger
9 months ago

Congrats to you beautiful love birds! Sending you light and love and joy. XOXO

+ Read More
Daniel Seuk Lee
9 months ago

Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your story! May your love and commitment continue to grow and inspire daily! :D

+ Read More
David S. Howley
9 months ago

Happy Belated!

+ Read More
Donalee Eiri
9 months ago

So proud of both of you. Thank you for posting the progress that has been made. You are both so inspiring. Stay strong and know that you are both loved by many!

+ Read More
Ashley Hanna
9 months ago

Awesome! Great to see these improvements. It can be scary to be by yourself for the first time, I'm happy to see you self-assessing and just letting the emotions be what they are. Elliot needs to work on his beard if he's going to be the best pirate he can be. :)

+ Read More
Tricia Chesty Gillespie
10 months ago

Yay to a new home!!!!! This is great news!!!!

+ Read More
Carl Martin
10 months ago

Awesome job... sounds like Elliot works for an amazing company. Think I might have him beat in the hardware department in the hip. ROFL Great job, stay positive!!!

+ Read More
Jessica Miller
10 months ago

Holy CRAP that's a lot of metal! I've been looking at x-rays a lot because I broke my arm in December but Holy fuck that's another level.... Hang in there! And for pain/sleeping CBD balms saved my sanity- and got me off opiates ASAP- which I was worried about. Much love.

+ Read More
Josh Levinger
10 months ago

Glad to hear you'll still be in the neighborhood. Looking forward to more walks by the lake with two slow dogs.

+ Read More
David S. Howley
10 months ago

So happy to see such amazing progress! Thanks for sharing these videos.

+ Read More
Carolyn Morris White
10 months ago

Jen & Elliott, you all have been in our thoughts & prayers since the accident. So impressed with the strength of both of you. Know that we have many prayer chains going, many, many good thoughts coming ...

+ Read More

$86,242 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 435 people in 10 months
Created April 3, 2017
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$50
Anonymous
7 months ago
CG
$5,000
CORE Gives
7 months ago (Offline Donation)
GG
$2,500
Generation Give
7 months ago (Offline Donation)
TM
$100
Tricia Michaels
8 months ago

I'll so sorry Elliott and Mrs. Elliott. You're loved and lookin great! Be strong!

$100
Anonymous
8 months ago
PS
$100
Pat Swanson
8 months ago

So sorry to hear about your accident. Keep up the good work you are doing in your rehab. God Bless you Elliott.

BS
$100
Bridgett Shank
9 months ago
1
1

Your perseverance, love and compassion in working through this together is inspiring. Sending love! xxPrankster

Bradee Evans
10 months ago
2
2

Way to go guys! I love the video!

+ Read More
Connie Ybarra
10 months ago
1
1

Hammer, I am so sorry, for not reading your story first; I went straight to the donation portion and comment. Please forgive me for not getting all my facts first. I will pray for you and Elliott, for strength and peace for both of you.

+ Read More
Geoff Turner
1 month ago

Really enjoyed reading the new year update guys. Elliott you are looking fit and fine man and I can't wait for the day we can go for a ride together, I'll leave the rock climbing to you :)

+ Read More
Jane Barker
1 month ago

Dear Jen & Elliott, First off, Happy New Year to both of you! Second - Jen - I can understand, and relate to, that utter exhaustion of being a care-giver. I have been playing that role, though for a lot shorter time than you, with my Father. I take my hat off to you! Third - Elliott - It is wonderful to hear that you are regaining your independence, and taking up new hobbies! You are amazing! I wish both of you a 2018 filled with joy and much laughter. Jane Barker.

+ Read More
Everette Van Fleet
6 months ago

Great date huh? And the Courage to know the difference. Keep up the good work ------------> Both of you. I really appreciate the updates Jen.

+ Read More
Kyle Peterson
7 months ago

Way to go, Elliott! It's so great to see you recovering and keeping the positive attitude. Thank you, Jen, for the updates and keep them coming!

+ Read More
Josie Ruth Steiger
8 months ago

I love that you are still keeping us updated on all of his progress. You both have been such an inspiration. I'm proud of both of you in so many ways!

+ Read More
Amy Berger
9 months ago

Congrats to you beautiful love birds! Sending you light and love and joy. XOXO

+ Read More
Daniel Seuk Lee
9 months ago

Congratulations, and thank you for sharing your story! May your love and commitment continue to grow and inspire daily! :D

+ Read More
David S. Howley
9 months ago

Happy Belated!

+ Read More
Donalee Eiri
9 months ago

So proud of both of you. Thank you for posting the progress that has been made. You are both so inspiring. Stay strong and know that you are both loved by many!

+ Read More
Ashley Hanna
9 months ago

Awesome! Great to see these improvements. It can be scary to be by yourself for the first time, I'm happy to see you self-assessing and just letting the emotions be what they are. Elliot needs to work on his beard if he's going to be the best pirate he can be. :)

+ Read More
Tricia Chesty Gillespie
10 months ago

Yay to a new home!!!!! This is great news!!!!

+ Read More
Carl Martin
10 months ago

Awesome job... sounds like Elliot works for an amazing company. Think I might have him beat in the hardware department in the hip. ROFL Great job, stay positive!!!

+ Read More
Jessica Miller
10 months ago

Holy CRAP that's a lot of metal! I've been looking at x-rays a lot because I broke my arm in December but Holy fuck that's another level.... Hang in there! And for pain/sleeping CBD balms saved my sanity- and got me off opiates ASAP- which I was worried about. Much love.

+ Read More
Josh Levinger
10 months ago

Glad to hear you'll still be in the neighborhood. Looking forward to more walks by the lake with two slow dogs.

+ Read More
David S. Howley
10 months ago

So happy to see such amazing progress! Thanks for sharing these videos.

+ Read More
Carolyn Morris White
10 months ago

Jen & Elliott, you all have been in our thoughts & prayers since the accident. So impressed with the strength of both of you. Know that we have many prayer chains going, many, many good thoughts coming ...

+ Read More
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