For Lauren Huey, what began as an enjoyable trip to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand became a painful and challenging six-week-long hospital stay overseas.
In December 2016, Lauren Huey traveled to Thailand to volunteer with Wildlife Friends Foundation at an elephant refuge. Lauren planned to island hop after her time at the refuge, but her plans were derailed before they even began. While riding around on scooters with some friends, Lauren was hit by a car. The impact from the crash left her with a broken left hip, left tibia (shinbone) and fibula (calf bone), and both wrists.
Lauren spent the six weeks following her volunteering experience in a hospital in Koh Samui, Thailand. “Despite the language barrier and unfamiliarity of being hospitalized in another country, there was an incredible bond between all of the patients who were there,” Huey explains. “One of the other patients helped me accomplish the simple daily tasks I couldn’t do on my own.”
Thankfully, Lauren wasn’t alone during her hospital stay; her mother and grandmother traveled across the world to be with her. Until they arrived, Lauren’s friends from the service trip never left her side.
During this time, Lauren also received the exciting news that she was pregnant.
In Thailand, Lauren underwent numerous surgeries to repair most of her broken bones. However, the main focus of her treatments was to get herself on a plane back to the United States.
After landing in Los Angeles, Lauren was taken directly to Sharp Grossmont Hospital. When she arrived, she was unable to walk. She made such progress on her first day that her mother was brought to tears.
“They didn’t offer any physical therapy for walking in Thailand, so we had no idea what she was capable of,” says Laura Huey, Lauren’s mother. “I am so grateful to her physical therapist for the amazing work he has done with her; he is truly serving his purpose in the work that he does.”
Lauren has worked with physical therapist Dan DeBeliso since she started rehabilitation at Sharp Grossmont. Dan developed a therapy regimen that started with teaching Lauren how to use a specialized walker that allowed her to bear weight on her elbow and forearm. She soon progressed to using a standard walker, and then only a cane. She is now working toward her goal of walking without a limp.
Many patients who experience physical trauma and therapy like Lauren experience temporary pain or soreness, often requiring medication to manage pain. Because of her pregnancy, Lauren chose not to take any pain medication during or even before she started physical therapy.
“I’m amazed that she has minimal reports of pain throughout her recovery,” says DeBeliso. “Again and again, Lauren has shown all of us how strong she is, and this is just another example.”
Throughout this process, everyone around Huey has witnessed her strength, determination and the beauty of her resilient spirit. With her positive attitude and contagious smile always shining through, she says, “This whole process has been a lot easier to deal with knowing something great is about to come.”
Lauren will welcome her first baby into the world in September 2017. She has chosen to name her daughter Lilith, the heroine in a story she was told while in Thailand. The name perfectly represents the strength and resilience of a powerful woman, which Lilith is already proving to be.