Imagine being told that you will likely never run again. Then, imagine being given that gift back. This is my story and this is my mission, to inspire people that no matter what happens in life, you must never give up.
My name is Beth Shaver and I am 29 years old. In 2011, at the age of 23, I severely injured my ankle in a soccer game requiring four surgeries over the course of two years. Due to complications from the surgeries, I was left with severe pain limiting my ability to be functional – even walking at all. Faced with the possibility of never running again, let alone living without pain, I traveled the country in search of possible solutions – even to the point of considering elective amputation. In 2013, I was extremely fortunate to find the ExoSym (IDEO) limb salvage device through the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, WA – a new technology allowing those with severe lower leg injuries & conditions to stand and walk/run again without pain. (The ExoSym is a hybrid prosthetic/orthotic design that uses a dynamic energy storing strut system to provide injury specific deflection and power, all while maintaining control and minimizing pain.) In November 2013, I became the second civilian and first female civilian, to receive the ExoSym (IDEO) device and it changed my life. ♥
After receiving the ExoSym, I felt like I had been given a second chance and I decided I wanted to pay it forward. So at the beginning of 2015, I began a fashion & inspirational blog for women who wear the device so that I could help them see that fashion is still possible and to remind them of the beauty in their strength and all that they’ve overcome. After a devastating injury / illness, it can be easy to shut yourself away and not want to talk about it. When I was injured, I felt like this initially but when I received the ExoSym, I gradually became more open with my family and my friends and I feel this support was extremely important. Acceptance is an important step in helping you move forward. It is my hope that this blog will help people with their “acceptance journey” and inspire them to find the beauty in their strength and dare to be ExoSymplyAmazing. I want people to know that anything is possible! Since receiving the device in Nov 2013, I have worked really hard to rebuild my strength and am continuing to make progress! To date, my ExoSym highlights include: completing a 120 mile adventure race (2014), running several half marathons (2015, 2017), placing second in the Working Wounded CrossFit Games in North Carolina (2016), running countless races (running is my favorite!), completing a 24hr adventure race (2016), riding the HH100 (2016) and training for more CrossFit events. I am blessed every day for how the ExoSym has changed my life. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse when in December 2016, I was hit by a car in an automobile accident, sustaining head and back injuries. Because of this, I had to take some time away from the blog to focus on my recovery. Thankfully, after seven and half months of therapy, I am back on course doing what I love – living ExoSymplyAmazing, once again! The year continued to improve when in August 2017, I was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to join the Hanger team as a Social Media Specialist running their social media platform (@HangerNews). I am honored to continue spreading the light for a company that has impacted my life so greatly. While my job at Hanger involves running @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, in my own free time, out of the pure love from my heart to help my fellow ExoSym buddies (and future ExoSym patients) find hope, inspiration, and motivation.
When I received the ExoSym device in 2013, as well as when I started this blog, the ExoSym was called the IDEO and the name of this blog was IDEOnista | be YOU. be FABULOUS. When name of the device for civilians changed from IDEO to ExoSym in late 2015, I decided to roll with the times and update the blog so that all would be able to locate as a resource. (ExoSym is the civilian term for the device and IDEO is the military term). So as you skim through this site, you may still see ‘IDEO’ and ‘IDEOnista’ referenced from time to time. This is why. I left many of the original posts with “IDEO” as a tribute to the name that started it all. With the transition and new name of the blog, I decided to focus more on writing stories about patients (men & women alike!) who have received the device. While I still offer style advice & inspiration, it is my mission to showcase more of these special features on patients & their accomplishments because each one of them has a special story to share. So, whether you are looking to get the ExoSym (IDEO), you have the ExoSym, or you just happen to come across the site, I hope you are inspired by these stories to never, ever give up. In life, we have two choices: we can give up, or we can go on. I hope that no matter what challenges you face, you always choose to go on. ♥
#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAMAZING