the gift of strength through adversity

Why do we push ourselves? In the moments when we have a way out, when we have the option to go easier, when we can quit, but we don’t – we hold out, we add on, we push ourselves harder, and we keep going, that is where we find our strength and we build it too.

Maybe it’s in my DNA, but I’ve always been one to give 110% when only 100% is required. Be it good or bad, it’s this unrelenting spirit that pushes me to never give up. Never giving up doesn’t mean that you can’t feel like you want to quit, it’s feeling that feeling or thinking that thought, but reminding yourself that you can do it – and you’ve done it before. You’ve pushed passed that barrier when you didn’t think you could. You may have to slow down, you may have to rest, you may have to take some steps backwards, but when you push through those moments when you don’t think you can, you find strength inside yourself that you didn’t know you had. I don’t know about you, but I love that feeling when you don’t think you can do one more rep or make it through that last mile, but you dig deep and you do – it’s the most amazing feeling. I prefer hard workouts over easy ones. Give me something easy and I’ll find a way to make it harder. I don’t want easy. I want to be challenged. We don’t grow in the easy times, we grow through what challenges us and pushes us to push ourselves. We build our strength in the hard times and we never forget what we learn.

Life brought us to the ExoSym. Be it injury, illness, condition, whatever it may be, it’s been a tough journey for many of us, but you know what? We are stronger for it because we’ve never given up. It’s our journeys in life that make us who we are. Sure, none of us would ask to be in this situation, but I believe it’s made me a stronger person and for that I am grateful. When I look down at my ExoSym, I am reminded of all I’ve been through and for every moment I could have given up but I didn’t — and I feel strength.

Never forget the heart inside you. Live grateful for every moment that is and cherish the gift of strength through adversity. ♡

strength through adversity

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing

10 Things I Learned About the ExoSym (& Myself) in Year 4 of the Device

2017, you were a little bit rough on me. Definitely a rebuilding year to go down in the books. In many ways, I’m ready to put you behind me, but not without first passing on some ExoSym wisdom from year four in the device.

  1. Continue to make your core work a priority. I used to think that after the first year or so, I could ease up on the core work, but I’ve found that even four + years into the device, your core needs to remain a central focus. While not always super fun and exciting to do this type of work, I’m seeing that having a strong core is something you will need to keep up throughout your use of the device. Sorry to burst your bubble, everyone! But it appears to be true. (Why is Jared always right??) Good thing is that having a strong core is good for overall health & fitness, anyway. We just have an increased incentive to work extra hard on it.
  2. There is always something new to try. Never stop exploring. Just when you think you’ve tried it all… keep trying! Some new things I tried this year were playing tennis, joining a master’s swim league, rock climbing, running a race with our family dog, joining a new gym, and deepening my yoga and meditation practice. There’s always adaptions you can make to whatever you want to try. No sport is out of reach. Don’t let people tell you that you can’t do it. You just gotta try.
  3. Your shoes can last 6-8 months. As I’ve mentioned a lot in previous posts, having multiple pairs of tennis shoes (I’m talking like 4-5 pairs, people) can greatly increase the longevity of your shoes. When I first got the device, I was tearing through them pretty quickly, but with several pairs to rotate through, it’s made a huge difference. (I don’t even need to reinforce them with duct tape anymore!). It goes without saying, but you need to make sure you pick the right shoe to begin with, too. Avoid overly meshy and narrow toe boxes. The ExoSym will eat them. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, get yourself a shoehorn and use it every time you put your shoes on – I’m not kidding folks! It makes a difference in keeping the shape of the shoe.
  4. Your socks can last 4+ years. Yep, you read that right. I still wear my original Swiftwick compression socks and Zensah knee sleeves from when I got my device. Now, granted I’ve probably picked up a few pairs here and there, but overall I haven’t had to really purchase new sets of sleeves or socks since getting mine at the clinic. For me, it comes down to taking good care of your compression garments. Wash with cold gentle water, air dry. On a side note, my Feetures socks that I wear on my non-Exo side are in the same boat too. Still going strong. Definitely worth the investment in quality socks and compression gear – but you gotta take care of them too. Same goes with the ExoSym itself. Take care of your friend.
  5. Listen to your body. I really shouldn’t be speaking here because this is not something I’ve been known to excel at (☺), but… as you continue your ExoSym journey, you want to be sure to remember that while the device is incredible, it is not magic and does not make you invincible. (Spoiler alert!) You must learn to listen to your body and find balance in your activities, which I think comes with time and probably age… I recently turned 29! Is this what happens when you get older – you start listening to your body?!
  6. Community is what you make it. The ExoSym community is only as strong as we make it to be. Befriend an ExoSym buddy. Find ways to connect with others and encourage someone. Share your journey. Pay it forward. Making friendships with people in similar situations as yourself can really help you to not feel alone in what you are going through, and I’ve found can also be useful in helping you to find meaning in your injury/condition. When you’re able to help someone through something similar that you’ve been through, you are making a difference in someone’s life and in many ways finding perspective in your own journey. A lot of folks love the ExoSym Facebook group, so definitely check it out! It’s a great place to connect. And if Instagram is your thing, we’ve got a few people on there as well: @ExoSymplyAmazing.
  7. Sometimes, you make mistakes. Throughout my ExoSym journey, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and have had several setbacks – from overdoing it in exercise, to pushing myself too hard and not listening to my body, to neglecting my core, the list goes on. ☺ I’m not perfect. The key here is to recognize that it’s okay, you can always get back on track… we’re human, and that means we make mistakes sometimes. Setbacks are a part of life. The key is to pick yourself back up and get back on track.
  8. Results don’t happen overnight. 2017 taught me a lot about this concept with the head injury recovery from my car accident, but in speaking about the ExoSym, the same message rings true. Don’t get discouraged by your progress. You don’t just one day reach the ExoSym summit and think “I’ve made it, there’s nothing more I can improve on.” The ExoSym (and your body) is a tool and like with all tools, you have to use them correctly, consistently, and perfect your trade over time. There’s always something to work on. Enjoy the process.
  9. What works for someone else might not be what’s best for you. I see a lot of chatter in the Facebook group about types of shoes to get, what socks to wear, what races someone did, etc. I think it’s great to share ideas and accomplishments, but recognize that what works for someone else, might not work for you, or what goals someone has, may not be your goals. And that’s okay. We’re all different and require the ExoSym for different needs, and to that point, we’re all different people in different life stages, with different goals. Instead of comparing yourself to others and their progress, achievements, or things that they are able to wear or do, recognize you are unique. We are all ExoSymplyAmazing in our own ways. Own that.
  10. You are stronger than you think you are. We’re all capable of more than we think we can do. Have you ever pushed yourself to what you think are your limits? The mind is a strong thing. It can be a friend or it can be an enemy. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I think a lot of us never push ourselves enough to realize that when you’ve reached your “limits”, those were never your limits to begin with.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite songs – my anthem for 2017: Warrior by Hannah Kerr. A reminder that when life knocks you down, you gotta keep getting back up. #beawarrior

You’ll never stop me I’m a warrior
When I fall down I get stronger
Faith is my shield His love is the armor

Be a warrior. #2017

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year tomorrow and a blessed 2018. Where ever life takes you next year, make a decision that no matter how hard life gets, you’ll never give up. Keep the faith and always look for the light.

Your ExoSym bud,

Beth

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing

ExoSym 4-year Anniversary: A Letter to My Younger Self

Dear Beth,

I write to you from four years in the future. I know you’ve been through several unsuccessful ankle surgeries and years of treatments, even reaching the point of contemplating amputation – hang in there, hope is coming.

You don’t know this now, but your life is going to change. You’re going to go from hobbling to running, jumping, and most importantly, for the first time in over two years, you’re going to feel what it’s like to not live in debilitating pain. The soccer injury that changed it all will no longer own your life. You’re going to meet the most amazing team of people at the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, WA and they will change your life forever with a device called the ExoSym – there will be no words to thank them enough.

Day 1

Ryan & Koreen (before Gig Harbor facility was built)

Upon returning home, you will begin setting goals for yourself – feeling determined, inspired and charged for life. People around you are going to be so happy to see your progress and many won’t believe the transformation. Getting back to an active lifestyle will be an amazing feeling and you’ll feel so grateful just to be able to stand, walk and sleep without pain. There will be ups and downs, and learning curves along this journey, but you will keep pushing through.

Pure joy

As you progress with your ExoSym, you’ll begin running in races again and along the way find the person you once were. The device will become a part of you and you with it. You’ll named it Old Faithful for its durability and dedication to get you to places and milestones you couldn’t reach without it. You and Old Faithful will move to three different cities, enjoying life and trying a bunch of new things from Camp Gladiator to CrossFit to adventure racing, distance cycling, running and more. You will become really strong and fit – nothing will hold you back. People will underestimate you and that’s okay because you’ll prove them wrong. ☺ You will push yourself really hard and at times Ryan and Jared will tell you to slow it down. Listen to their advice. You’re going to feel super pumped about life, but remember to put the breaks on sometimes. The ExoSym will make you feel invincible, but you’ll have to remind yourself from time to time to chill and take more rest days. Remember life’s a marathon, not a sprint.

CrossFit competition

Jared (PT)

You’re going to start a blog to help other patients and along the way, you’re going to meet the most amazing community of people – Team ExoSym. You’ll travel to meet other ExoSym buddies and even do races with them! You will get a second ExoSym to help you get around when Old Faithful needs to be mailed back for adjustments and also to alternate devices for equal wear, and you’ll name it The Jaguar. Together, with your pals Old Faithful and The Jag, you will conquer whatever comes your way. You’ll travel the US competing in events and hiking mountains, pushing yourself further than you can imagine – it will bring you to tears with your heart so full of gratitude for how much the ExoSym has changed your life. ♥ You’ll go through a lot of running shoes and socks, but in time you’ll learn how to make them last longer. You’ll get asked “What happened to your leg?” more times than you can count, and sometimes you’ll wish you didn’t have to explain, but you’ll figure how to deal with this. Challenges will be a constant in your life and things will happen to you that you can’t plan for, unexpected ups and downs, but you’ll learn to take it as it comes.

Hiking mountains

About three years into it, you’ll get into a major car accident, and your life will once again change forever. You’ll go through months of therapy and many dark days, finding the road back to normal, but Team ExoSym will be by your side to support. Many months later you’ll work yourself back to running a half-marathon again and return to Gig Harbor to run it alongside your ExoSym family. You’ll continue to face some setbacks along this recovery, and have to take a step back from priorities, but you’ll never give up.

#nevergiveup #hangerclinic

When you look back over these last four years you’ll see how God brought you closer to him through your injuries and how much your faith has grown. The staff at the Hanger Clinic will become like family and every time you head back it will feel like returning home. As you reflect on this four year ExoSym journey, you’ll remember how Ryan always said to “trust the process” and to take it “one step at a time” and you’ll thank him because in these last four years that advice has rung true.

Thanks Ryan

So, as you take this journey to Gig Harbor to try the ExoSym, never forget that God is always with you. Believe and trust that this is the next step. I am here to tell you that you are stronger than you know. The ExoSym will change your life.

Good luck,

Beth

Race for a Soldier #mindbodyspirit

Hi Team ExoSym,

It was awesome meeting so many of you last weekend at the Race for a Soldier in Gig Harbor. So proud of everyone who came out to take part in the 5k and 1/2 marathon – we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day! (I even clocked a faster 1/2 marathon finish, so was pretty happy with that. ☺) But most importantly, I was filled with the blessing of the people I have come to know through this team – across ages, abilities, injuries, conditions, and length of time in the device – we are all a family, united by the will for a better quality of life and the determination to fight for it. We are #TeamExoSym.

And without a doubt, a huge thank you to Ryan Blanck and Jared Williamson – whom without these two men, many of us wouldn’t be where we are today. Few people are as dedicated and caring as these two – enough to even spend their Sunday with us taking part in the race, not just as spectators, but as friends and coaches – helping us through.

Below are a few pictures from the event:

#nevergiveup

Team ExoSym (how many ExoSym’s can you count?)

For many including myself, 2017 has been a challenging year and while it’s not always easy to do, sometimes we just have to stop, breathe, and honor our own self-care. With that being said, I’ve decided to take some time away from ExoSymplyAmazing. My hope for you all is that you continue to keep the faith, believe in yourselves, and cherish the gift of today. Know I will be doing the same. ♥

May this blog continue to be a resource for you along your journey and may your ExoSym always be a reminder that even on your hardest day, you are stronger than you know. #nevergiveup

All the best,

Beth

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAMAZING

ExoSymplyAmazing Update (Sept. 2017)

Hello, again!

As many of you know, I started my job with the Hanger Clinic last month, and what an exciting time it’s been! I also moved during Hurricane Harvey, have been training for the Race for a Soldier 1/2 marathon (less than 2 weeks away now!), and have been continuing to work on my recovery. Fair to say it’s been a little busy over here… ☺

With my new role at Hanger, I wanted to share a few thoughts with regards to ExoSymplyAmazing. The blog/Insta will continue to be something I run outside of work hours (in my own free time), as it always has been since the start. While my job at Hanger involves running their social media (@HangerNews), ExoSymplyAmazing will remain a personal blog/Insta, run by me as a patient, not as an employee and is in no way affiliated, or influenced by the Hanger Clinic, and is not something I am paid to do; simply a blog/Insta I run out of the pure love from my heart to help my fellow ExoSym buddies (and future ExoSym patients) find hope, inspiration, and motivation.

With that being said, in the last few weeks, I have been pouring myself into my new role at Hanger, and am realizing that I may have a little less free time than I have had in the past to devote to the blog. But fear not, ExoSymplyAmazing will continue on! My heart remains tied to all of you – I’m just still figuring out my life right now and how to fit everything in. ♥ #findingmybalance But, I would love to get back to writing more patient stories, so please reach out to me if that’s something you would be interested in sharing! I’ve always believed that we each have a special story to share and I would love to help you do that if that’s something you would be interested in. Also, in regards to the Instagram, I know I’ve stepped away for a bit there, but will be returning soon and am planning to try moving to a 2-3x a week schedule and see how that works – see you all there soon!

Lastly, a big hug to all my ExoSym buddies reading this – keep believing in yourself, trusting your device, and taking it day by day. In two months, I will reach my 4 year anniversary in the device, and I, without a doubt, can say this journey has been and continues to be an amazing ride. My best advice is to be thankful for where you are today (wherever you are in your Exo journey), never lose sight of how far you’ve come, but never stop pushing yourself to be better, and never stop looking up. Also, never forget that we are a team. If you need support, reach out. Be a friend to an Exobuddy – we are here for each other. To live ExoSymplyAmazing is to not be afraid to be the amazing YOU that you are, to believe in yourself, and most importantly, to never give up – life is a journey after all – don’t give up the fight. Love to you all – be strong, be courageous. #nevergiveup

PS – Yay for fall! In my opinion, the best time of the year for Exo wear. (aka leggings and lattes ☺)

Looking forward to seeing some of you soon at the Race for a Soldier!

XO – Beth

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing

 

Tips to Motivate Yourself

Getting back into shape can be challenging for anyone, especially if you are used to a certain level of fitness you once had or have a set goal in mind of where you want to be. In my own personal life, it’s been only within the last few months that I have been able to start working out again… so today, I want to share a few tips for those trying to get back into it or into it at all. I may love running and working out, but doesn’t mean it comes easy… so let’s review what we can do to motivate ourselves to keep going! #teamexosym

Set a goal.

For me, this is everything. Maybe it’s my Type A personality ☺, but goals give me structure and something to work towards. If you feel like you are lacking motivation in your life, try setting a challenging goal for yourself – something you can work towards and something that you really want to be able to do.

Here’s an example: After my car accident this past December, I really struggled a lot in those first few months. One thing my PT had me do was set goals. Not to just be able to walk a straight line, restore balance, etc. (those were important and necessary goals), but in addition to the medical based goals, I needed a heart based goal… something that would help to remind me of myself, so as I progressed, we set a long-term goal for me to be able to run a race again. At the time, it felt impossible and many people didn’t think it would be possible. How could I do this with my back and head the way it was… it was a really dark time in my life, but little by little… month after month, with patience and hard work, I achieved that goal (the 10K race) last month and along the way found myself again. ♥

The importance here isn’t so much the number of goals you have, but the value of what they mean to you. Set a goal that means something to you and you will be motivated to achieve it. Also, think about putting your goals up on your wall or mirror so you can see them every day. The key is to have it be a visual reminder of where you are and where you want to go. #goals

Log your workouts.

I used to think, “Oh, I’ll remember what I did last week, etc…” Well, let me tell you, after a few days, no you won’t. ☺ And unless you have an amazing memory, you certainly won’t remember how you felt during and after the workout too.

I’ve started logging my workouts on a poster board that I got from Michaels. Just a simple white $0.50 poster will do just fine. Take out a ruler and write in the calendar for the remaining of the year – leaving yourself enough room to write something in each day. Then, you can log your workouts, rest days, how you felt, what shoes you wore (so you know when to rotate), etc, and then you can look back each week/month and see progress – it’s awesome because you can see it in one place all at one time! This has also helped me a lot with my head injury — it’s a great tool to track progress. I have a Polar M400 watch that tracks my workouts in details, but I’m kinda old school and like to write it down as well. I also like to write a positive quote at the end of the month to summarize how that month went… just an idea. ♥

Surround yourself with inspiration.

We’re pretty lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people with Team ExoSym. I feel truly blessed to know so many of you! (big hug) If you have an Instagram, make sure to check out @exosymplyamazing to get connected with other patients or the Facebook group (link in Helpful Links above) is also a great place to connect too. If you don’t have any social media accounts, no worries – try looking up motivational and inspirational quotes on Google. Print a few off, put them where you can see them. Read inspirational stories… surround yourself with uplifting words and images – it’s the best way to live! An inspired life is a motivated life!

@exosymplyamazing Instagram

Celebrate little victories.

It’s important to honor your successes along the way. When I first started trying to run again a couple months ago, I started over from scratch. Literally was starting over again so being able to jog 1 min, walk 1 min for several minutes was something to celebrate. Sure, it may seem small, but at the time it was a huge victory. Celebrate the victories along the way – that’s what makes the journey special. Think of it as mini goals within your goal. If your goal is to run a 5K, start with being able to run a mile. It can be a really fun process to look at it this way.

Live with gratitude.

One thing that keeps me motivated and inspired is living gratefully. If you are trying to run, be thankful for that gift you once perhaps didn’t have… smell the fresh air, feel the sun against your skin, see the sweat on your shirt — these are all things to be thankful for! For me personally, I love running more now than I ever did before my ankle injury in 2011 and probably even more since my recent accident… because every step reminds me of what a true gift it is. Be inspired by opening your eyes to see your life with a new perspective. I may not be the runner I once was, but I am grateful to even be able to lace up my shoes and get out there. ♥ #blessed

Put your game face on.

Let me be the first to tell you this is not going to be easy. Life isn’t easy. Goals aren’t easy. Challenges aren’t easy. This is when you have to dig deep and put your game face on. Yesterday I went out for a long run… there were a few times I wanted to stop and call for an Uber, but you know what? I didn’t have my wallet. haha just kidding, don’t worry I didn’t quit and call for a ride (although a few people stopped and asked if I needed one when I finished the run and laid down on the sidewalk to recover haha). ☺ But, no I walked a little, sipped some water, and then I continued on my run again. Make a decision to never give up. “Run when you can, walk when you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes

don’t let the smile fool you 🙂 #nevergiveup

Listen to your body – we all have off days.

Here’s where I probably shouldn’t be talking haha. I’m the first to admit this is not my strongest suit. For various reasons (probably all the injuries in my life), I’m pretty good at tuning out my body and just pushing beyond how it feels. But as time has gone on, I’ve learned it’s important to listen to your body. It’s always sending us messages… we just have to be willing to listen. A week or so ago, I had a really off week. Just felt like nothing was left in the tank. I was so tired… so I decided to listen to my body and give it a rest… which it really turned out to need. My advice for you is to try to be more open to listening to your body. I think with a lot of us, we are so used to tuning it out because we had to tune out pain for so long with our injuries (it was the only way to get through the day)… but we need to find a way to bring that balance back. What has helped me is meditation and yoga… through these practices I’ve learned to listen and that it’s okay to feel again. Don’t be scared to listen. Don’t be afraid to try.

Love yourself the way you are.

I think this last piece of advice is most important. Love the person you are. You didn’t come this far to just come this far. Be proud of you who you are in this moment and every challenge that pushed you to where you are today. You only get one body… love the one you have. It’s pretty ExoSymplyAmazing, after all. When people ask you, “What happened to your leg? What’s wrong with it?” Understand that people ask from their own point of view. We all live within our own worlds, seeing things from our own perspectives. Don’t let it hurt your feelings. (Take it from someone who has been answering this question for several years now haha.) A lot of times, I think people just don’t realize what they are asking and how that could make someone feel. The key is to love who you are and answer with confidence – be proud to be YOU. Rock the ExoSym. Believe in YOU. Embrace yourself. Be yourself. Accept yourself. Motivate yourself. (You and your body on the same team after all!) Treat yourself. My personal favorite is getting new workout shorts and headbands… ☺ (do I have too many headbands??)

pre-workout pics. love me some headbands…

So as you wrap up the weekend and start a new week, decide what steps you can take to motivate and inspire yourself. I believe in all of you! You can do anything you set your mind to – it just takes time and hard work! It’s not going to be easy, but who likes easy? Be willing to try new things. Open yourself to new possibilities. See the world with a positive attitude. Set a goal. Spread the light to those around you. Make a new ExoSym buddy. Enjoy the journey. It may get hard sometimes and that’s okay. The point is to just keep picking yourself back up. Say no to the Uber ride and make a decision to never give up. ♥

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing

A New Journey

In his heart man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. 👣

In 2011, when I injured my ankle and surgeries went from bad to worse, all I wanted were two things: (1) to find a way to live an active, full life without pain (whatever it took) & (2) for God to use my injury for something good; to make a difference with my life. In 2013, I received the ExoSym through the Hanger Clinic which changed my life – answering prayer #1. About a year later, I started this blog with the hopes of inspiring fellow ExoSym patients to always believe in themselves & never give up. I am honored to call these patients (you all!) my friends. 👫

Today, I’m super excited to say… I’ve accepted a full-time position to run Hanger Clinic’s social media platforms company-wide, supporting and connecting patients across all devices, further fulfilling dream #2: to make a difference in people’s lives through what I believe is lifting patients up & giving them the inspiration they need to carry on.  Life is crazy isn’t it? Never once did I imagine this year turning out as it has (what a year it’s been…), but God continues to pull me through time and time again. Looking back in 2011, I never thought a leg injury would change my life forever either, but we never know what God has planned, which is why we must always keep the faith even when we don’t understand. 💗 As I step forward in this new journey, I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and for everyone who has touched my life along the way – namely, Ryan Blanck, who from the moment I reached out to him about the ExoSym, was the first person to give me a chance when all hope seemed lost. This is the heart of the Hanger Clinic – empowering human potential – giving people a second chance at living a full life – I am honored to continue spreading the light for a company that has impacted my life so greatly.

Stay tuned… and keep going strong friends. PS – Hope to see you all at the Race for a Solider in September! If you haven’t been before, it’s a really fun time to meet other Exobuddies (🤗) and support our veterans! Hope everyone has a wonderful week. Never stop believing. xo

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing

Back on Course.

Hi Exo Fam,

I’m excited to say that I am back on course! This past Sunday, I ran my first race (a 10k) since my car accident in December! (*happy dance*) I’m actually still laughing because I thought when I signed up it said the race was a road course, but it ended up being a hybrid trail race… luckily ExoSym likes a little rocky dirt action. ☺ As I look back at the last eight months, it’s no doubt been a tough year and in some ways I don’t know how I made it through this time, but to say it was Christ’s strength and not my own that carried me through. The journey back from life’s challenges is never easy, but we never walk alone. ♥

First race back!

A couple weeks ago, I also wrapped up my therapy thanks to my amazing therapy team at Texas PTS. For 7.5 months, this team stood by my side pushing me through my recovery. They got me so far and I am forever grateful for their dedication and compassion. This team never stopped believing in me. In life, we never know what challenges we will face, but I believe and have seen it throughout my life, that God always puts the right people on our path when we need them the most. (#ryanblanck)

My PT Team 🙂

My wish for each of you is that when you face hard times, you look to the strength within you and never let someone tell you what you can or cannot do. If I had listened to the doctors who told me I would never run again, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They may know the odds, but they don’t know you. ♥

#exostrong

A big shoutout to all my Exobuddies and the Hanger Team who have encouraged me throughout this year as I recovered from my accident. The ExoSym group is truly a family of its own. Thank you is not enough for how much your support has meant to me. Big hug from Texas! Love to you all. I am back on course! TEAM EXOSYM. NEVER GIVE UP.

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAMAZING

ExoSymplyWork Fashion

Hi friends,

Happy early Fourth of July! Today, I want to get back to my ExoSymnista roots (☺) and talk about summer style tips for the workplace. I haven’t taken a lot of photos in the last seven months… but captured a few in the last couple weeks to talk about today. Who says tennis shoes can’t look cute for work?! Not me! Be fearlessly YOU.

As mentioned in previous posts, I am a big fan of skinny pants with the device and have always been an Ann Taylor LOFT girl — so I’m excited to share with you that LOFT has a new line of skinny pants that are great for work with breathable fabric for the hot summer months! Check em out here. I have them in several colors (grey, green, blue, navy, & black) and they are perfect! Are you looking for a new pair of summer jeans? Look no further — LOFT has a great line up of regular and colorful skinny jeans to select from too. Check em out here!

Shoes: Men’s Brooks Glycerin, ExoSym Compression Sock: Swiftwick & Zensah Knee Sleeve, Skirt & Tops: LOFT, Non-Exo Sock: Feetures

Enjoy wearing skirts? Have fun by matching a colored skirt with a pop of color in your shoes or shoelaces. (Skirts and tops also from LOFT ☺) Do you work in a business casual environment? Keep it classy with a neutral colored shoe, black socks and a splash of color – you’ll look great and feel cute too! #rockitsista

#exosymplyskirtfashion

Don’t dread dressing up work – make it fun, make it comfortable, make it YOU! Show off your exobody, wear what makes you feel beautiful — feel strong in who you are.

Wishing everyone a great week. I’m pushing through therapy over here and working on my running… it’s been a journey — one day at a time. NEVER GIVE UP! We are Team ExoSym.

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing

Patient Spotlight: Eddie Holmes

My Journey 

Hello everyone, my name is Eddie Holmes and I am from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I am relatively new to the world of the ExoSym, but certainly not new to the world of ankle pain. I have always been very active and into sports – always playing on some team or running a 5k.  My injury happened in 1985 while playing softball.  On a close play at home plate,  I decided to slide in and my cleat got hooked on the plate. I snapped the deltoid ligament loose in my right ankle. This is the very moment in time when my journey started. This happened at a terrible time, at the time I was a 30 year old physical education teacher and high school soccer coach. I was scheduled to drive 50 students to a big 10k race the following weekend. My personal plan was to try and beat my previous time of 38:40 from the year before.  However, I knew while laying on the ground waiting on the ambulance that neither of those things would happen this year.  After an x-ray at the hospital, I was told that I just had a severe sprained ankle. I was familiar with what a sprained ankle felt like and this was not it. So upon my request another x-ray was taken and it was decided that I would see an orthopedic doctor first thing Monday morning.  That Monday morning it was determined I would need immediate surgery to repair the ligament.  This was a long and painful recovery process but after about a year I was moving around ok. Actually, as the years went by I was able to do pretty much whatever I wanted to do. My ankle had limited mobility, but no pain.  Several years went by and I started running again. Once again I was competing in races all around my area and in neighboring states. While training, I would run 20 to 30 miles a week. I absolutely loved to run but I knew cross-training would be good for me too, so before I knew it, I was doing triathlons.  

Fast forward several years, I had run 100s of races from 5ks to marathons. I had also completed over 40 triathlons including 6 Ironman events: five 70.3 races and one full distance of 140.6. In 2014, my ankle just got worse and I decided to see a specialist in Houston, Texas. In January of 2015, I had my second ankle surgery. This time the deltoid was tightened and two bone spurs were removed. Although the pain level was better, my range of motion was significantly reduced. Running was out of the question. In fact, walking without a limp was also difficult. If I was on my feet for a long time, the pain returned. During my last trip to the doctor, I had an new MRI and was told that my ankle was bone on bone with arthritis. This was devastating news for an active person. It just so happened that a friend of mine, who has a similar ankle issue, had a brace called the ExoSym (IDEO). He has been doing very well with it and suggested I look into it. So I began the process.

I started going through the questions in my mind:

First, is this brace right for my injury?

Second, will insurance help with the cost? 

Third, what will I be able to do after getting the brace? 

From the first time I walked into the Hanger Clinic, it was obvious that EVERYBODY there really cares about people. They go out of their way to help and make you feel at home. I’ll never forget being told by Ryan that now I was part of the ExoSym family!  That’s pretty comforting when you are so far away from home (in my case 2600 miles).

My first trip for the fitting was great and I was very excited about getting the real thing. After a long three week wait, I went back to get my ExoSym and to go through my week of PT.  After putting the brace on for the first time, Ryan had me do a few drills in the clinic. We went outside and within a few minutes, he told me to run up the little hill in front of the clinic! To my surprise, I did it again and again and again! All I could think about was sending a message home to my wife and family. Each day I was there was a valuable learning experience. The clear cut message I got while there was that I hadn’t gotten where I was in 5 days. Meaning, it would take longer than 5 days to completely figure out how much I could do using the ExoSym. In the months that followed, I have come to understand that it is probably going to be a continued learning experience. To my surprise I have had almost a complete change of priorities. I have come to realize that although I love running, I also love being able to walk without pain. My ExoSym has helped me do normal day to day activities with little to no pain. 

#exosymplyamazing

When I came home from the clinic with my brace, after 3 weeks or so, I had some rubbing around my knee. While at the clinic I never had my brace adjusted. As I look back on it, I think I must have been thinking that it was something I would get use to. It was when I saw my leg bleeding I realized that I was wrong. So after talking to Ryan, we decided I needed to ship it back. The first time I put it on after the adjustment was amazing. A small adjustment can make a world of difference in the fit and in turn allow you to do more than you ever thought possible. My device truly fits like a glove. 

I can’t say enough about Ryan! I am amazed by his caring attitude and work ethic. I have sent him videos of me running on the treadmill and outside in my yard. He responds every time. Jared was also awesome and so knowledgeable. These are special people who help others everyday. I wonder if they know the depth of what they do, and the hundreds, if not thousands, of lives they have touched. ❤

While at Hanger you will meet people that will probably be life long friends and you will see amazing things happen. I can’t imagine anything but positive things happening to all those who spend time there. 

This is the condensed version of my journey or at least my journey so far. I still have lots of things I want to do. My wife Angie and I celebrated our 40th anniversary last summer and our plan was to hike 40 miles on the Appalachian Trail, but because of my ankle injury I couldn’t make the distance, so I want to complete that distance with Angie.  Also on my list is Ironman Chattanooga! It’s down the road but it’s on my list.  I would have to say that the number one thing on my list is to be able to be active with my 3 year old grandson, Bentley for many years to come! 

Eddie & Bentley

It has been my honor to share my journey with you. 

One thing I didn’t mention is that I will be 62 in a few weeks. If I can have success at my age, imagine what you can do!

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing