Chris Leeuw's Journal
Made the Mile!
Written Apr 30, 2012 9:48pmHi all - Quick update!,
I am back in Salt Lake after an awesome weekend in Louisville with Allison, the Neuroworx folks, and Team Reeve.
I also nailed the mile! - For the first ever on the road with no breaks. My hip was chopped meat afterward, but I'll take it.
As a whole, Team Reeve and the 100+ runners/wakers/wheelers (30 or so SCI victims) raised $46,000 for the Foundation.
I can't thank everyone enough for the support I've received in letters, on facebook, and on journal entries. It wouldn't have been possible without all of you!
I also want to thank Jan and Dale of Neuroworx for including me on the Neuroworx team for the race, and Carol Campbell, Beth Overmyer, Justin Davis, Markus & Katie Wilds for making the trip down and being there with Allison and me at the finish!
We shove off from Salt Lake Wednesday morning for the move home.
Another chapter closes. Now that "official" therapy is over for the first time in 21 months. It's time for me to pick up the pieces the best I can from August 8, 2010, and try to move on.
Thank you all!
Race day & News Story
Written Apr 27, 2012 8:47pm
Just a quick update to thank everyone once again for your amazing support in tomorrow's walk with the Reeve Foundation. Tomorrow I tackle the mile.
Also WISH-TV, the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis where I was once an intern, aired a story today about my recovery and the walk:
Altogether over $3,000 was raised, including a $1,000 Sponsorship from the Miami Dolphins Foundation. I plan on putting $2,000 towards my "bionec leg", with the rest going to the Reeve Foundation for SCI research.
Will have pics from Louisville soon!
Good-bye Salt Lake City
Written Apr 21, 2012 11:41pm
I've driven to one of my favorite spots high on the northern slopes of the city. I want to sit & once more take in the panorama before me.. no camera can capture the grandeur. It is a quiet open area where I see the sprawling city stretched out in the valley before me as far as the eye can see. Deep in the snow-covered Wasatch Mountains to my left is beautiful Park City, 30-40 minutes away. To my far right, north of the Oquirrh Range, the Great Salt Lake lies still and serene, with rugged Antelope Island, one of many mountainous islands, looking like a monstrous alligator basking in the sunny sea. 40 minutes straight ahead south on Hi-way 15 just below the horizon lies picturesque Provo, also surrounded by mountains, including spectacular Mt. Tipanogos, and bordering fresh-water Utah Lake.
In many ways it is hard to believe we have been here for over a year... and yet we've seen so much of this beautiful city, from city parks to it's many scenic canyons... that it feels much like a second home. I cannot imagine a more fascinating and nurturing locale. The entire state is a natural treasure with five National Parks, many National Forests and Monuments, and unbelievably 45 State Parks. We never run out of new places to explore, new wonders to behold.. and we have yet to scratch the surface.
We've also enjoyed cultural and other diverse offerings in the city from restaurants, theatres, Natural History Museum, comedy clubs, weekly professional musicians and soul-nourishment at a Unitarian Church; soccer, football, baseball, a rodeo at the State Fair, & even motorcross at the U of U Stadium; as well as personal enrichment activities such as yoga, exercise, & dance classes, a friendly Bridge Club and 4 of us who play on our own every week. Everywhere we've met wonderful people & made new friends, including an arty and fun-loving neighbor who has taken me schlepping to antique and unique spots all around town.
But of course the purpose for our being here and the facility most unforgettable to us, is the Neuroworx Rehabilitation Clinic founded by Dr. Dale Hull located 20 minutes south in the suburb of South Jordan - the beautiful surroundings have been a lick of icing on the cake. Its hard to believe that in less than 2 weeks we will finally be heading back home. It is a bittersweet realization. We will be leaving the comfort and normalcy of our warm cocoon, where everyone has embraced us, encouraged and protected us... where our bodies and souls have been nourished and healed. Although the work will continue and there will be rough roads ahead, Chris is ready to get back into the real world. We will be coming home different people than when we left. Two years ago we didn't know what Neuroworx was.. we didn't know how much it would mean in our lives or how unique and valuable, indeed life-saving, are it's services to so many people.
Twenty months ago we were thrown unaware and unprepared into another world and we had much to learn. Of course we knew the tragedy of spinal cord injuries, but until the reality touches you personally, you cannot fully realize the magnitude and serious additional complications of such an injury or comprehend the emotional and psychological ramifications for the patient, as well as the family and loved ones. We were basically ignorant of the extraordinary efforts required to regain function from a body that has been paralyzed, nor could we know the glacially slow rate of recovery. And we certainly didn't know the battles and injustices that one with such an injury must endure in order to be heard and treated and accepted....
and maybe most hurtful and shocking, we didn't know that investing in health insurance does NOT insure that you will get the treatment that is essential for recovery. As Christopher Reeve wrote in his poignant and inspirational memoir, "Nothing is Impossible":
"Moral responsibility does not drive the insurance company."
It is an atrocious side effect that Chris must also battle day-after-day.
We now have a totally new awareness and appreciation of the handicapped & disabled. Chris has said to me more than once,
"If you saw me as a stranger walking down the street, would you think that I was brain-injured?"
Have we really been so detached from the world of the handicapped - so ignorant, so uninvolved, so disinterested? - that we ever think of them as less than "whole". Yes, we have learned so much from the patients at Neuroworx, working day after day, putting their body & their lives back together.. ordinary people exactly like you and me that happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time or because of "a gust of the wind" or "the lay of the land" find their world instantaneously torn asunder, their body disconnected from their soul.... in the innocent unremarkable blink of an eye.
Luke (not their real names), felt a rush upon rising too quickly and fell forward, breaking his neck when his head hit a dresser; Roger was injured by a bullet to the spine when he stopped to ask a stranger for directions; Sharon fell out of a hammock and broke her neck; Stan had a freakish aneurysm on his brain stem; most suffer spinal cord injuries during automobile, bicycling, or diving accidents. But all of them are ordinary people who were going about their ordinary daily life like every one of us, and none of them deserve to be labeled or thought of as anything less than the "whole" and beautiful people that they always were.
Wiser and stronger, more appreciative and grateful in many ways, we're coming back home!
We can't wait to see all of you wonderful family and friends
... who though far away, in a very real sense have been with us all the way!
P.S. - - - WALK CHRIS WALK - - -
Kentucky Derby Marathon
Sat., April 28, 2012
- - - for more info, check last posts - - -