2 Year Car Accident Update

Nate family photo

Hi friends! Thanks for stopping by today. I’m going to share an update on Nate’s leg and how he’s doing since the car accident. Saturday was the two year anniversary of that car crash in 2020 (crazy it’s been two years already!) and a lot of things have changed. 

Nate family photo

First off, I want to be clear that I’m sharing all of this from my perspective, not Nate’s. A lot of you have asked how he’s doing physically, and some of you have also asked how he’s doing psychologically. (Which is a very insightful and sensitive question, so thank you for that.) I can obviously only share my perspective as well as a few tidbits of what he’s choosing to share publicly. His full story is his, and I want to respect that. Also, although this has affected my life in a myriad of ways, it’s just a tiny tidbit of the impact that the car crash has had on his life. So just keep in mind that as I’m sharing all of it, it’s my view…not necessarily his.

Nate was in a car crash in April 2020. I shared a lot of details here (although some of those details are incorrect, because things continued to evolve after I wrote that blog post!) and another update here. He ended up needing 8 surgeries, mostly on his leg. His leg and wrist are full of hardware, and he spent about half of 2020 unable to move and then had to relearn how to walk. 

Two years in, I can say that this car crash had a huge impact on Nate and our entire family. He spent the first 30-something years of his life with a leg that worked on way, and now he has a leg that works very differently. He’s so good at adapting (because there’s no other option, ha!) and learning how to live life with the leg that he has.

Here’s what has changed: 

There are certain things that won’t be possible in his life. Running, family ski trips, or  standing for hours on end at a music festival are officially out right now. (I choose to never say “not possible ever” because who knows what will happen in the future? I will always believe that things can and will get better and better and better.) 

There are certain life experiences that, as a young family, we had discussed and hoped to have: a family ski trip to Utah, maybe taking a trip to Hawaii and learning how to surf, going hiking in Colorado. Nate’s leg can’t do any of those things.

When I start having a “woe is me” mindset about certain life experiences that won’t be possible for our family, I notice those thoughts and sometimes let myself feel sad for a bit, and then I choose to think ethese new thoughts: I have a husband. He’s here, right here! He’s on this planet earth with me and I get to enjoy time with him. How lucky am I? 

He’s has a limited number of steps each day. He can walk really well. If it’s winter and he’s wearing long pants that cover his compression sock and scars, you wouldn’t even know he was in a car accident. But after a few miles (I think his limit is about 4 or 5) his limp becomes more pronounced and his foot swells up. 

5 miles is quite a lot (especially compared to 2020 when he could walk 0 miles!). But on a normal day when he’s hanging out with his kids in the morning, at his office in the afternoon, running an errand or two and maybe cooking dinner or doing a house project in the evenings, he hits his limit quickly.

We have a temporary disability placard for the car so he doesn’t have to waste his steps by parking far away. Nate and I haven’t traveled together since the car crash, and it will be interesting to see how our travel style changes. In the past when we visited cities like NYC or Chicago we walked 10+ miles each day, so I’m certain we’ll have to make some adjustments. 

In the first few months after the car crash when doctors were telling us that he might not be able to walk like he used to, I felt saddest when I thought about traveling together and how we wouldn’t have the same freedom to just bop around a city and walk long distances together. Now that it’s my reality, it will be interesting to see how it feels on our next trip together. 

He has a limited range of motion. It’s mostly in his ankle. He has trouble on stairs, so in the mornings if he’s getting Dayton up he has to hold Dayton in one arm and hold on to the stair banister with the other and take the stairs sooo slowly. (I usually just get Dayton up to save him the hassle.) Since his ankle doesn’t move very well, he compensates in other parts of his body so it’s easy for him to develop problems in the left leg. It’s trying to make up for the weaker right leg! And so…

He goes to PT twice a week. Two years later and he’s still doing PT! I honestly think he will probably need a therapist for most of his life because there was so much damage done in those 6 months when he couldn’t move. 

He has an awesome physical therapist. PT is a blessing and I’m thankful he can go. I know it’s a bit of a  hassle to work in two extra appointments each week when he’s so busy with work and fatherhood, but it’s worth it in the long run.  

He lives with pain. It’s his pain and not mine, so I can’t tell you how bad it is. Nate’s not a complainer and he doesn’t like to draw attention to himself, so I can assume it’s worse than what he says. But again, this part of it is his story. 

Milo has started to notice his leg. In the early days (while Nate was living in a wheelchair) Milo was an infant and had no idea about his dad’s injury. Now that Milo is 2.5, he notices that his daddy doesn’t run, he only walks.

The first few times I heard Milo say “daddy doesn’t run, he walks” I had to find a private place in the house to close the door and weep out all of the tears and emotions. I felt mad, angry, taken advantage of. I felt like life was so unfair that Nate won’t be able to ever enjoy running around with his two sons, kick a soccer ball, or chase them. 

But I’ve been working on this a lot. I’m learning that these thoughts of how “it’s supposed to be” are just a story.. Society has this stupid story it tells, and it’s this “perfect American dream” with a married couple and two kids, and a dad who coaches the soccer team and a mom who cooks dinner. It’s a story that, for some dumb reason, says that happiness = a dad chasing his toddler. Like, what?? Who says that’s how it’s supposed to be? It’s just a story. It’s not the only way to happiness, and it’s not the only right story. It is one version of one story, and there are countless other ways to have a wonderful experience in this lifetime. And it’s not going to be our story, and that’s fine because our story is going to be magnificent and perfect in its own way! 

Our story is going to be a hilarious and engaged and wonderful dad who wrestles his kids on the floor, supports his kids’ sporting endeavors (whatever they’re going to be!), cooks amazing meals for his family, and lives a full and purposeful and amazing life.

Next steps: 

Nate has an upcoming appointment with a specialist to discuss some troublesome hardware in his leg. We have reason to believe that it miiiight not be able to stay in there longterm, so Nate’s going to talk to a few people and look at his options. The ultimate goal is always to improve movement and reduce pain. 

Ok, I have about a trillion other thoughts I could share about this, but I’m going to sign off for now to keep this from getting too long. As always, thanks for the good vibes, the prayers, the thoughts, and the support. It might sound silly, but whether we’ve met in real life or not, I feel the positivity and it genuinely impacts me. So thank you. Xo. 


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Kaileen Elise
2 years ago

Love this update. You have such a realistic, fresh, and positive perspective. I know that doesn’t just happen… you are very intentional and cultivate these feelings! Thanks for sharing. It’s really inspiring.

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