Elizabeth and Chris Balcom

Elizabeth is a mother and language pathologist who finds peace in gardening during her downtime. Her husband, Chris, is a father and works as an adjuster. He enjoys boating, cars, and being outdoors. Together they appreciate traveling, especially to Hawaii.

One day, after work on a September afternoon, Elizabeth and Chris packed overnight bags intending to spend time together near the central coast of California. This trip was just like many before it except for their transportation. Usually, they drive their car for longer trips on the highway. However, Chris wanted to take his bicycle, so they opted to drive their pick-up truck–a very unusual choice for such a lengthy drive.

After being on the road for some time, Elizabeth and Chris’s getaway came to an abrupt stop. Another driver, traveling at 70 MPH, attempted to pass multiple vehicles. The driver struck their truck head-on, causing significant damage and injury. The impact left Elizabeth with several broken bones, deep lacerations, and a fractured hip. Chris, too, suffered from a damaged hip, was covered in blood, and was unable to communicate. Despite the number of injuries, one thing was certain, the decision to take the truck had saved their lives.

Thankfully, Elizabeth was still coherent and was able to call 911 for rescue. Once emergency crews arrived, Chris was taken to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia. Elizabeth, meanwhile, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno where she underwent surgery for her fractured hip by Dr. Ayoub. Chris’s stay at Kaweah Delta Medical Center was short-lived, as he was airlifted to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Four days after arriving at the hospital, Chris returned home. Elizabeth was hospitalized for five days and then referred to San Joaquin Valley Rehabilitation Hospital for inpatient therapy. As a language pathologist, Elizabeth understood the importance of therapy and knew SJVRH was where she wanted to be.

“I knew San Joaquin Valley Rehab was the right place,” Elizabeth said. “I already knew what you guys were and knew you didn’t mess around. I knew you had really good therapists with a high level of care.”

While Elizabeth was receiving the care and therapy she needed, Chris started struggling to care for himself at home. It was two weeks and an uphill battle before Chris was approved for inpatient therapy at SJVRH. Finally united, they were determined to get better each day through inpatient therapy.

“During this time of COVID-19, the staff was extremely kind and understanding of our desire to talk to our loved ones and to stay in contact with them.”

Chris and Elizabeth found that some days were very trying. But they were both determined to see progress and to move closer to independence, which they did. Chris and Elizabeth discharged in much better shape than when they arrived. They continue to use the tools they learned at SJVRH and participate in outpatient therapies. With each day they grow stronger and take another step in getting back to better.