Monique recently came up to SF (right before Valentine's Day) to push an end to pedestrian injuries and deaths. Hear her speak on ABC 7: video
Oh, and how could I forget? Her one year anniversary from the collision is quickly approaching-- February 24. It sure has been an incredible year watching her transform-- soul, mind, and body.
Love you Mo!
Hey everyone, a new update!
On December 27th, friends from Thousand Oaks High School, their families, and other LA-area friends came to the LAVA sports lounge to see local comedians perform and raise money for Monique's recovery. Monique's high school friends organized the event, since laughter is one of the best ways to help Monique heal and create a positive environment for her recovery.
The event raised money through several ways: suggested donations at the door, 10% of the bar proceeds, and an auction including a painting an artist created during the event. Someone bought the painting, and secretely passed it around the event for everyone to sign. It was presented to Monique at the end of the night. It was a surprise gift!
Monique says: "I was surprised and very touched. It's so nice to have the support from Berkeley, Thousand Oaks, and my friends and family across the US and overseas. I have never felt so special!"
Monique has been continuing her outpatient rehab in Thousand Oaks. In physical therapy, she is getting her body re-balanced after the multiple injuries she sustained in the collision. She’s also working on using the stairs.
We all look forward to seeing her soon!
**Message from Monique**
I am really grateful for your help. I’ve already been able to receive medical care that I would not have been able to receive without your support.
I still haven’t been able to return to my job. It’s been over 8 months now. I am asking for your help.
My wonderful friends are trying to raise at least 50,000 to support my care. I still see many doctors and get a lot of therapy to treat my injuries on a daily basis. Also, my insurance costs have gone up since I am not working, and with the new year coming up, I have new deductibles to satisfy and additional surgeries. The smallest donation helps. I promise it is not lost on me.
Please share the fundraiser with people you know.
I am feeling good these days. I still have symptoms, but I guess they are to be expected after the severe injuries I sustained. At the end of the day, I am proud of my body and mind for continuing to take me so far on this road to recovery. I am brimming with gratitude. Thank you. Be safe and take care, Monique
to see Monique speak to the Board of Supervisors demanding more safety measures for pedestrian safety!
Monique has some exciting updates for you all. Last week, October 6, Monique came back to San Francisco for the first time since her hit-and-run collision in February. She spoke bravely in front of the entire Board of Supervisors and the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee. She shared her story and offered concrete policy changes for pedestrian safety. She quoted one of her heroes, Fannie Lou Hamer, "Through this whole ordeal, I am sick and tired." But now, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I want to take action. She described in detail the changes that she would like to see, such as continued funding of the San Francisco Pedestrian Strategy, include pedestrian collisions in police daily crime summaries, prosecute at-fault drivers, and daylighting. These two events were incredibly empowering for Monique as she was not only able to speak up for herself but also for all of the pedestrians in the city.
In terms of recovery, Monique is down to 3 days of rehab/week as opposed to 5 days. And, how is she spending her non-rehab time? She is learning Spanish, knitting, painting, starting a compost with her Mom, and advocating for pedestrian safety!
On a personal note, Monique is still very much who she is-- a genuinely loving and curious young woman-- but I have found that she is even more wise and compassionate than ever before.
Thank you everyone for your support during this process!
Hey everyone, here's some more updates from Monique's rehab!
A lot of head injuries affect one's vision, and Monique did have some visual problems initially. Fortunately, these went away after a few months, and recently Monique saw a neuro-optometrist to check her vision. He carried out extensive testing on her eyes, and her vision is 15-20! (Yes, that IS better than 20-20). However, having good vision doesn't necessarily mean that her eyes are in good health, so Monique is undergoing a number of exercises to help strengthen them. Some of these involve wearing "eye prisms", which is the picture of Monique we just posted with the round Harry Potter-esque glasses!
Monique is also continuing strength training in physical therapy. She lost a lot of weight and strength in the hospital (especially being off her legs for so long!), so the therapists are helping her regain muscle and endurance. They're also helping with the pain in her legs, hips, and back. But if you know Monique, you know she's a tough cookie! (A vegan cookie, of course), so she pushes through the pain and is making progress much faster than anyone expected. The doctors and nurses are all very impressed with her rate of recovery. She has also been going out with her family more and more, and is walking entirely on her own now, without the help of a cane or any other aids. Such amazing progress! Go Monique!
Finally, the Vessel fundraiser was a wonderful way for Monique's friends to come together and help raise money for her cause, and everyone who attended had a fantastic time. Stay tuned for more updates and pictures soon!
Hi everyone, we have another update from Monique about her progress!
Monique has been extremely diligent and dedicated to her rehab, undergoing a grueling and exhausting schedule: 5 days a week, for 6 hours a day! Aside from the obvious physical and mental benefits from her physical and cognitive therapy, she has been building strong interpersonal connections with other people in her rehab program, including both doctors and patients.
As Monique herself put it: "I think a deep part of life is really about the connections you make with people and with experiences. The connections I'm making in rehab are really enriching and deepening my understanding of a different side of life that I wasn't exposed to before."
As her friends, it is truly heartening to see Monique take this tragic experience and bring something good out of it. Speaking to her recently, she mentioned: "I'm so grateful. I think that word describes me best." Such powerful and unexpected words from someone who has been through so much pain, and an inspiration to us all.
This is a really wonderful update: Monique is walking on her own! No cane, walker, or other aids, just her own two legs. What a wonderful, heartening moment, 6 months in the making. Go Monique!
to see the video!
Thank you all for your support, it's so wonderful to see our friend regain what she lost from the accident.
- Team Monique
Transcripts from Sunny Lai and Amit Deutsch speaking about Monique at 7/13 rally: SUNNY LAI:
I met Monique in International House six years ago. I distinctly remember our first conversation. We were at the International House dining room and it was lunchtime. I also remember that we were the only ones left at the table when we finished our conversation. As you all may know, Monique has this way of looking and listening to a person. She pays absolute attention and is full of genuine curiosity. I will always attribute to Monique for teaching me how to initiate, nurture, and sustain a real friendship.
Monique is spontaneous. She left for South America in the summer of 2008. And when the end of summer rolled around, she wrote: im not coming home for fall semester. i am really happy here. . so i went with my feelings..and im staying. a bit irresponsible perhaps..but im putting myself first and "following my bliss" im going to miss you mucho amiga. i missed my plane on friday..very recent decision.
She is so passionate about nutrition. She has not only made me more conscious of my food choices, she has also personally fed me nutritional yeast, kombucha, wheatgrass and the list goes on.
She is fascinated by cognitive neuroscience and at the time of her accident was busy running studies at a neuroscience lab.
She is an incredible friend. She has been there for me through every challenge I've faced since the time we met with open arms and open mind.
This is why I'm here today. And this is why you are all here today.
On February 24, a driver driving on the wrong side of the road, at 40 mph struck Monique and another pedestrian, sped away and left both people in the street. This driver changed the course of Monique's life in an instant.
Neelofer and I were the first to be by her side in the ICU at San Francisco General Hospital. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see Monique cut up, with tubes down her throat, strapped down, shattered, and unconscious. When Monique's family arrived in San Francisco from Los Angeles, it was incredibly difficult to witness their realization that their feared nightmare was in fact real.
Monique had multiple stays in the ICU, spent a month in the hospital, underwent surgery, and had to relearn the most basic of skills. In fact, she only started to stand and walk a few weeks ago. And she continues to undergo intensive rehabilitation.
I was able to see her last week for the first time in three months and to talk with her for the first time in 5 months. When we saw each other, we hugged and we cried. Monique was walking around with her walker, slow, but much more fluid. We had one hour for lunch. I asked her how her perspective has changed as a result of this accident. She said that she didn't quite have the words for it. Something has changed. I sensed positivity and acceptance in her attitude which is in stark contrast to how she was in the beginning. We also talked about vulnerability. Monique is an incredibly private person, which is why most of you didn't hear about her accident until months later. However, she knew that she had to open up in order to receive help. She said recently-maybe being vulnerable is a good way to live. From that we can grow much stronger. I speak for myself, I can see how it's true.
And because she shared her story, we are here today-- her friends from International House, UC Berkeley, Thousand Oaks -- and where else!?
Monique wants to thank all of you for being here, supporting her through this life-changing event and helping her to find this driver.
Monique also wants her story to be told as part of a larger issue of pedestrian safety and hit-and-run's.
Thank you for being here with your bodies, your hearts and your voices. AMIT DEUTSCH:Thank you so much for coming. My name is Amit Deutsch, and Monique is a very very good friend of mine, and actually before I talk about Monique I want to talk about my grandfather.My grandfather, Saba Eliezer, was my first hero in life. He was kind of a Yiddish cowboy, which is kind of an oxymoron, and he taught me that the only way to live life is in a constant state of adventure. He also gave me pieces of chocolate when my parents weren’t looking. When I was 12, he was hit by a car while he was crossing the street. That was the first time that I had ever been exposed to tragedy. It was the first time too that I learned that life is a thin pane of glass; it’s very fragile, and it can shatter so quickly, so suddenly... That’s exactly how I felt when I heard about Monique’s accident. I didn’t hear about the accident until two months after it happened, when Monique sent me a Facebook message. She said, “I was hit by a car. Hit and run. Hurt badly, knocked out. Many broken bones. Don’t remember few weeks at San Francisco hospital. Ambulance took me to LA eventually to be with my family. In a wheel chair for a few months. Sorry to miss your party though. Take care.”Which for anyone who knows Monique, that’s her, right there, in a nutshell. That’s Monique, sending me a text message from the hospital, apologizing that she missed my birthday party. Because here’s my thesis: I think Monique is an angel. That’s one of the things that makes this all so hard.So Monique was the very first person that I met in college. We’d both transferred from community college at the same time. Turned out we were both in the same college orientation together. Turned out we were both Psych majors so we were in the same department orientation together. Turns out we were living together so we were in the same housing orientation together. So from the beginning, Monique was just this bright magnet that sucked me in, and anyone who knows her knows exactly what I mean.From the beginning it was also clear to me that she was different, very special. I’ve been trying to find the words for it and this is the best that I’ve found: I think Monique is the kind of person who just sort of has life... a little more figured out, a little more quickly and a little more deeply than the rest of us. My favorite example of this is something that Sunny mentioned. I walked into the cafe where we were living, she was sitting there on the computer, I sit down next to her, and she looks at me and says, “I think I just decided to buy a plane ticket to Argentina.” Okay. And then she flew to Argentina. And she loved it and she stayed there for six months. And at the time I couldn’t even process this because I didn’t even know it was an option in life to simply follow your heart.And then two years later, I was on a one-way plane to Argentina where I spent six months, because like I said I think Monique just has life figured out a little more quickly, and a little more deeply than the rest of us.So yeah Monique is very wild, spontaneous and untamable. But she’s also very sweet, very calming, very caring, very loving... but she’s also this intellectual badass who studies neuroscience and nutrition and everything she studies... but she’s also this incredible friend, and really, really an angel, so again that’s what makes all this so hard. About the driver who hit her: I can’t really imagine what they were thinking, if they were thinking. Maybe they were intoxicated, or angry, or got a rush out of driving wrecklessly, trying to prove something... but thinking about that, there’s something that I’d really like to stress. Something that Monique said in a video that she sent out this morning to a lot of her friends. In this video, she was expressing her gratitude for everything that we’re doing for her, but she also said something that is just so much Monique. She said, “I want this driver to be caught, not because I’m angry at them, but because I just want to look them in the eye. And have that closure.”And so I want to stress that this isn’t about revenge. When we say we’re looking for justice, we mean that we’re looking for fairness. We’re looking for a kind of world where people take responsibility for their actions. We’re looking for a world where we can support each other. We’re looking for fairness because it’s just not fair that such a huge financial burden can fall on Monique’s family. There are $50,000 dollars that need to be raised for her medical bills. There’s a campaign that’s been going on, it’s at youcaring.com/helpmoniqueheal, about $17,000 have been raised so far, and I think that together as a community we can raise a lot more. But also this is about spreading awareness, because very unfortunately people like my grandfather and Monique are just not an exception. This happens way too frequently, and I was trying to find the numbers and I couldn’t even quite get them straight, there are just so many thousands of people who go through this every year. And so as drivers everywhere, I just wanted to say: there is a huge responsibility on all of us, to never drive while texting, or angry, or intoxicated, or even just forget for a moment that we’re driving is anything other than giant machines of potential tragedy for entire networks of people who love each other. I just want us to keep in mind that this it’s just not a game. All the young people who thought that driving is either a right, or a privilege, I don’t think it’s particularly either of those, I think it’s really just a huge responsibility.So to whoever did it, whoever they are. I really hope, I really hope that they speak up so that this isn’t on their shoulders for the rest of their lives.To Monique’s family, I want to say I’m really sorry for everything you’ve been through, but also thank you so much for giving us this angel to inspire us.To all of Monique’s friends who’ve been really incredible in organizing this, Sunny, and Mahendra... I don’t know if Julie’s here... Neelofer, and so many other people who were so incredible and stepped up. Thanks for proving that angels don’t come in single packets, but that they come in these sort of unions, and that they draw each other together and brighten people’s lives together.And finally I just want to say to Monique: I love you, I miss you, I wish you a very speedy recovery, I reaaally wish we hadn’t lost touch these past few years. But thinking about that, I’ve realized that I’ve relearned a very important lesson that I hope all of us get to learn and relearn and relearn again and again in our lives, and this is a lesson that I’m sure Monique would have wanted us all to learn:It’s that this life is very very short, there’s no time to waste not loving the people that we love. We need to remember who they are and we need to remember to tell them again and again and again just how much we love them.Thank you so much for being here. Let’s lend our voices to reminding San Francisco that pedestrians are not an afterthought, and everyone has a huge responsibility to raise awareness and bring justice. So thank you so much.
Recently, Monique consulted with her case managers to calculate her expected out of pocket expenses during the 2014 and 2015 years. Total out of pocket medical and rehabilitation costs were estimated to be $181,055. Given that Monique is currently working full time on rehabilitation 30 hours a week, it was suggested that cost of living expenses also be estimated and also raised charitably, at least until she can go back to work. That total over the two years was estimated at $63,700. Given these estimates, Team Monique felt Monique's fundraising goals should be raised to reflect her projected needs.
These estimated out of pocket costs can increase or decrease in the future. Much of it depends on how soon Monique is able to return to work and independently earn a living. Another factor is dependent upon whether or not the driver is found. In any case, Team Monique feels it is in Monique's best interest to raise her fund raising target. Future information may change these estimates, which in turn could change our fundraising goals.
"Thank you to the orthopaedic doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors and body healers I have had by my side. It's been almost 6 months, and I can now take steps on my own...sometimes! I still spend the day in my walker, but I can pull this out every now and then!"
See Mo walkin'
I just want to say I truly thank people so much for helping and supporting me during this very intense time. Sometimes you can't plan for a tragic event. It just happens, and changes your life forever.
I really couldn't have done this without you. You are in my heart and mind and I really appreciate each one of you.
Monique now walks using a cane. She has come such a long way! You can watch the video here
Exciting updates from Monique!
The first video
is of Monique walking when she went on a day trip to visit her oldest brother. The second video
is of Monique going up her first flight of stairs with her brother.
She writes: "I've come a long way since the video of me using the stair climber in rehab! I was weaker and more wobbly then. I've been working on building strength in physical therapy. I'm pretty sure it's working I still don't walk very much, but when I do it's in my walker. I am trying very hard each day to get the motion back in my body, and build strength and endurance. The physical therapists are proud of my motivation and progress. I'll also be meeting with some new doctors in the next couple of weeks. I'm excited for the new doctors. I like talking with different ones, and learning things about this field of medicine. It's so new to me. I have a patient perspective of course, but I can switch perspectives and appreciate a lot of the science behind everything, if that makes sense. I find it all very interesting and rewarding."
Hi again everyone! Another update from Monique:
"Last Friday I walked alone for the first time without assistance. I go to see the rehab doctor about once a month. Given my speedy progress, the last couple of times I've seen him he's asked me to walk so he can watch and feel my body to make sure I'm healing properly. As part of this training, he puts a belt around me to hold me in case I fall.
Last Friday, he let go over the belt without me knowing, and I walked by myself for the first time without assistance! It was only a few steps, but I was so excited! I look forward to getting stronger and stronger every day, and am confident I'll be walking even better than before soon!"
Check out the video below!
So great to see! Go Monique!
Here's a clip of Monique expressing her gratitude to all of her friends who came out for the rally
And, photos of the rally can be seen here
Please click the link below for NBC News report on the rally, and a message from Monique:Monique on NBC news
First media coverage on Monique:
Today I got to see my best friend, Monique, for the first time in three months. When we saw each other, emotions just overcame us. We hugged and we cried. Neither of us knew we had it in us—the capability to feel so much.
We were able to spend an hour together. We went downstairs to eat some vegetarian food (naturally!) and we talked like we always did. As I listened to her, I felt like she has gained wisdom through her recovery process. I sense positivity, acceptance and tranquility. She is also putting in a lot of physical and mental energy to regain the skills she used to possess. She also told me how touched she is by the outpouring of support/love from everyone in the past few months.
As our hour wrapped up, we went back to her rehab center. She walked me to the “Relaxation Room” and made sure I took advantage of the massage chair. She even left and came back to make sure I knew how to use it. And that is Monique—an incredibly loving, beautiful, and genuine person.
Thank you all,
Monique takes her first few steps...
Monique is now using a walker and wheelchair. On Friday, she graduated from the rehab facility in Santa Barbara and will continue her intensive, comprehensive rehab in LA. I've uploaded her video on the site.
You go Mo!
Dear friends and loved ones of Monique,
It has been incredibly heartwarming and motivating for Monique to receive all of the support from each and every one of you.
So, thank you, thank you.
I know many of you care about Monique's progress so I will do my best to keep everyone up to date.
Monique now has clearance from her trauma orthopedic doctor to bear some weight on her body. She stands for the first time with help from her physical therapist. Check out her video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDZnwS2r2d0&feature=player_embedded
She also tells me that she sat on the floor for the first time yesterday. She needed a lot of help, but regardless, she was "really happy to be there."
Thank you everyone! Stay tuned!