Jeff Merritt was injured on October 9, 2016 in Indio, CA, while he was on duty as a Motor Sargent, after he was hit by a car driven by a lady who was texting and driving. Jeff suffered an L-1 spinal cord injury, seven broken ribs, a broken left wrist, a broken left clavicle, and a broken right tibia. After his stay at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, he was transferred to Casa Colina, until he was released from acute care in March of 2017.
Jeff has been doing outpatient therapy since he got out of inpatient hospital, but started in a local rehab program at The Perfect Step or “TPS”. When he started in the TPS program in September. Jeff had thought that he had reached his physical capacity at other outpatient centers and was looking for more out of his recovery, so he decided to come to TPS after he had heard about TPS from a client in the program.
In his own words: “When I initially got to TPS I was impressed by the assessments that each therapist was making with me each time they saw me. They were so persistent about goalsetting, that it gave me something to reach for and strive for.”
Since starting in the program TPS, Jeff has seen changes in his strength in his lower legs, and his personal confidence, namely because he does not need to use his AFO’s outside of the building any longer. “Since starting in the program at TPS in September (four months ago), I have already seen increase strength, stamina, health and mental stability. It has completely altered my perception about having hope for the future. TPS has taken my recovery to another level.” Jeff has even started to take steps in a walker on his own. Because of these positive changes, Jeff has made more of a commitment at home to continue his recovery regimen to help expedite the process of his recovery when he is inside the walls at TPS.
“My ultimate goal is to get out of the chair and walk away from it as much and as long as possible. I want to get back to fulfilling my previous plans for our future as a family. I understand that physical fitness now will always be a part of my life and I believe that is needed to fulfill my goal of getting back on my Harley Davidson some day.“
When Jeff initially got injured, he will tell you that he had moments of thinking that he lost control of his life and that there was a lot of negative thoughts coming into his head.
“Prior to my accident I was my families provider, protector, teacher, and confidant. I thought I had my family’s future figured out in terms of wanting to travel and eventually moving up to Colorado to work on our family‘s ranch. Since then, I have gone through the entire mental and emotional cycle of recovery, and I have recognized that I am still me. My new job now is my recovery, so I can get back to being the things that I was before to my family.”
Jeff is surrounded by three incredible women in his life: his wife Sally, his daughter Kenzie, and his daughter Savannah.
“My wife Sally truly has never left my side since my accident, even at the expense of leaving her job as a dental assistant. She has been a true blessing throughout my journey. My kids have surprised me tremendously after I had the initial conversation with them about me being in a chair. They reassured me, that they would not think any less or different of me being a father because I was in a chair. That give me more confidence than you can imagine.”
Jeff’s life is different now since the dark day shortly after his accident, as he will tell you his doubts are now gone. He believes that there is a bright future ahead of him. His accident was a huge test to his psyche and his heart. He believes that this is all one big test that he hopes he can pass. Jeff had a perception of what he thought his life would be after his accident and his actuality has far surpassed it in a positive way.
“My wife and I are spontaneous and I want to be every bit as spontaneous as I was before. I hope that therapy can get me to a place where I can be spontaneous with no limitations. I have no doubt that we will get back up to our ranch permanently some day, so we can fulfill our dream.”
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