Sunday there will be a major fund raiser on her behalf. Following is a piece in her local news paper. Please consider doing whatever you can to help.
Santa Cruz couple slowly recovers after devastating wreck
From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
By Jory John Posted: 03/10/2010 01:30:16 AM PST
Rose Sniatowski and Richard Grover get in their daily walk along West Cliff in Santa Cruz, California
(Shmuel Thaler/Sentinel, edited by John of AllFaith)
By Jory John
Posted: 03/10/2010 01:30:16 AM PST
For the second time in her life, Rose Sniatowski is learning how to walk.
Each morning, whether working with her physical therapist or slowly making her way along West Cliff Drive, the 28-year-old Santa Cruz resident is concentrating on walking correctly. Since she and her boyfriend, Richard Grover, were severely injured in a car accident in October, Sniatowski's physical abilities have progressed, albeit incrementally. Whereas she used to spend her days rock climbing or jogging along the cliffs, Sniatowski is now able to stay on her feet for a total of about 15 minutes.
At first, doctors were unsure she would ever be able to walk again at all. In a head-on collision on Highway 101 outside of Laytonville -- caused when a passing driver, who was uninsured, drifted into oncoming lane -- Sniatowski had suffered a fractured vertebrae, two broken feet, a broken arm, broken wrist, broken hand, fractured collarbone, displaced ribs and internal injuries.
After four surgeries and about a month in Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Sniatowski returned home to the one-bedroom Westside duplex she shares with Grover, where she has continued to spend most of her time in bed. Even bed rest is painful, she said, though less so than sitting up. Shortly after the accident, Sniatowski could only sleep in five-minute bursts, as she was repeatedly awakened by nightmares.
Grover, who was driving when the couple was hit, suffered a compound fracture of his left knee, a compound fracture of his right heel, a broken left elbow and a broken right femur. He was flown to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where he spent the next nine days. His femur was reconstructed, nine screws were permanently placed in his left knee and four screws were placed in his right foot. Grover returned to his childhood home of Arcata for about two months to recuperate. He came back to Santa Cruz in mid-December to rejoin Sniatowski.
While Grover had insurance that will cover much of his medical expenses, none of Sniatowski's previous jobs had offered health insurance. Her medical bills -- even after reductions from hospitals and doctors -- currently total about $600,000, putting her in extreme debt, Sniatowski said. The helicopter ride, alone, cost about $30,000 she said.
Sniatowski -- who said she has worked diligently to maintain good credit throughout her life -- is keeping an Excel spreadsheet of which bills are due, and she makes regular calls to collection agencies, explaining her situation and asking for leniency. Sniatowski is working with the state of California to pay for some portion of her bills, though it's looking like the majority of the $600,000 will be her responsibility, she said.
"It's almost like the bills are so big that they're not tangible to me," she said. "It's beyond my imagination."
While Grover is borrowing money from his family to cover their rent, living expenses have also skyrocketed, Sniatowski said.
"Now, added to our normal rent and utility expenses, we need assistance with physical therapy, special medical devices, special shoes, clothing, cooking, house cleaning, shopping and many other things."
Through it all, Sniatowski -- who is regularly assisted by Grover, as well as her mother, father, aunt, brother and friends -- has managed to maintain a positive outlook.
"I'm very limited, but I'm very hopeful," Sniatowski said. "Most people would say I'm always pretty positive. Even in the hospital, where I could barely move at all -- at that point, I was just thankful to be alive."
Sniatowski, a Felton native who graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2008, planned to work in conservation biology, conducting field research in the tropics and eventually teaching courses in ecology and evolution. She has extensive lab experience and research projects under her belt, including a trip to Costa Rica to study bird seed versus bat seed dispersal.
"It's really different not to be working now," she said. "It's hard to think about not being able to do something that I can really take pride in. I had so many types of injuries. My hand and wrist and arm were broken, so writing is difficult for me, typing is difficult for me. There's no way I can sit through a lecture, or do any of those things that are associated with a job in my chosen field. I can't even sit at my computer for too long."
Grover -- a videographer and film editor, and the owner of Grover Videography -- is slowly returning to work, booking weddings for this summer. His recovery has been significant, he said, though he has lost about 20 pounds of muscle.
"As far as doctors' expectations, I've done amazingly," Grover said. "I was at the doctor in mid-January and I moved my knee for him and he just had this amazed look on his face. He couldn't believe my knee worked."
Sniatowski, who has faced a tougher recovery, said she thinks about the wreck daily. To help her sleep she listens to books on tape, which helped her drown out the buzz of the hospital machines in October. She has taken up a limited amount of gardening -- professing a love of orchids -- along with her short daily walks. She holds out hope that one day she'll be able to jog again.
"I really loved running," she said. "When I see people running on West Cliff, I wish I was capable of doing that -- that feeling of movement. I also miss painting and yoga. Those are things that I look forward to doing again. The ways that I've dealt with difficult situations in the past have been eliminated."
Danielle Gillett, a professional photographer and childhood friend of Sniatowski, is organizing a fundraiser to help with some of the medical bills. Gillett said people can get their family portraits taken at the event for $60 and all of the money will go to Sniatowski.
"I called my photographer friends and everybody was more than willing to help out," Gillett said. "One-hundred percent of the proceeds are going to help Rose. With all of her bills, I really wanted to think of a way that we could raise money for her."
While Sniatowski and Grover may both be uncertain about their recovery timelines, they are grateful to those who have stepped forward to help and are optimistic about what lies ahead.
"I've made really good progress," Sniatowski said. "I've been really happy to reach each new point. I'm so much more functional today than I even was two weeks ago, when I was wearing a back brace that was like a suit of armor. Before that, I was bed-bound in the hospital, where they were teaching me how to sit up. I've come a long way and I'm definitely focused on making each day positive and focused."
If you go
Fundraiser to help Rose Sniatowski
WHEN: 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Mount Hermon Recreation Field, 37 Conference Drive, Mount Hermon
COST: $60 for family portrait; 100 percent of proceeds go to Rose Sniatowski
DETAILS: E-mail Mindy at email@example.com. To make a donation, contact Rose Sniatowski at 331-7360, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit helprose.blogspot.com.
As I posted Feb 7, 2010:
The daughter of a close friend was involved in a horrible accident. Her medical bills are through the roof and still mounting. We've known Rose and her family for many years. They are like family to us.
I've never asked for help like this before but if you can, please help Rose!
If you are in the Santa Cruz -- Mount Hermon area you have a special incentive to help this dear woman:
Rose's friend, Danielle, an award winning local photographer, decided to spearhead a family portrait fundraiser for Rose. If you are interested in participating, please visit the "Help Rose Website." It will be a great opportunity for the first 50 people who sign up. If you would like to help, email: email@example.com.
Please take a look at the "Help Rose website" and see if there is anything you can do to help: