paralysis, swim star Van Dyken in good spirits at Denver hospital
Send a link to a friend
[June 19, 2014]
By Keith Coffman
ENGLEWOOD Colo. (Reuters) - Olympic
swimming champion Amy Van Dyken said she was excited to be starting her
new life on Wednesday as she arrived partially paralyzed at a hospital
near her hometown of Denver for specialist treatment after severing her
spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident.
Van Dyken, 41, whose six gold medals make her one of the most
decorated Olympic swimmers of all time, has put a particularly brave
face on her recovery since the accident, chatting warmly with
well-wishers on social media and posting photos of her smiling and
The crash happened on June 6 in Arizona and she had six hours of
surgery the next day at a hospital in Scottsdale. On Wednesday she
was transferred to the Craig Hospital in Englewood, a suburb of
Denver where she grew up and where much of her family lives.
"I'm doing alright. Rocking and rolling!" Van Dyken told reporters
as she was wheeled from an ambulance into the facility, which
specializes in spinal cord and brain injuries.
"I'm feeling great. We've got the pain under control. Iím excited to
start my new life."
Van Dyken says she has no feeling from the waist down and does not
know whether it will return.
Van Dyken won six gold medals at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta
and the 2000 Games in Sydney, winning in relay races, the 50-meter
freestyle and 100-meter butterfly. In recent years she had been a
sports radio talk show hostess.
Before flying from Scottsdale to Denver, Van Dyken said her
neurosurgeon had advised her and her husband, former Denver Broncos
punter Tom Rouen, to say goodbye to each other because of the risks
[to top of second column]
"It was one of those things where I looked at my husband and
basically said, 'I love you, goodbye, please continue on with your
life,'" Van Dyken told reporters from a stretcher.
"I'm so thankful to be alive," she said, her voice breaking with
emotion at times.
Luis Manuel Tumialan, the neurosurgeon who operated on her, said Van
Dyken would benefit from having so many family members and friends
around her in her Colorado hometown.
"That's her family nucleus. I can't put that in a bottle," Tumialan
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.