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 31 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 and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type II, 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 and 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 with a #nevergiveup mentality! 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 Hotter Than Hell 100 Mile Bike Ride HH100 (2016) and training for more CrossFit events. I am blessed every day for how the ExoSym has changed my life. As luck would have it, things unfortunately took a turn for the worse when I fell from a rope in early 2016 landing on my ExoSym leg, injuring my heel which ended up altering my gait because of the pain. Then a few months later, I was injured in an automobile accident, sustaining head and back injuries. Despite these challenges, I pressed on determined (and very stubborn) not to let anything slow me down. However, in early 2018, the pain from in my leg became more than I could bear. Imaging showed extensive injury throughout my leg, leading to a worsening of my nerve condition (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome II). From 2018 to 2020, I’ve since had nine additional surgeries, two peripheral nerve stimulators (Bioness) implanted and spent a lot of time on crutches in and out of the hospital getting treatments and many months of intensive physical therapy. My leg injuries and nerve condition form a complex situation that I am continuing to work through and make progress with, but it has been a long journey. I am extremely grateful for my team of doctors, physical therapists, and specialists who have been by my side through the last few years helping me through, and my family and friends who have never stopped supporting me (including #TeamExoSym).
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. With my change in health, I haven’t been able to keep the blog as current as it once was, but my hope is that whether you are looking to get the ExoSym (IDEO), you have the ExoSym, or you just happen to come across the site, you can find inspiration 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
Note: ExoSymplyAmazing is personal blog/Insta, run by me as a patient, 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.