Jennifer Bridgman

"Team Chris" Updates

We Believe in Chris: Video Montages Part I and II

32-year-old Los Altos native Chris Bridgman incurred a spinal cord injury while riding his dirt bike in February 2010. After shattering his T12 and L1 vertebras, Chris underwent emergency spinal fusion surgery at Valley Medical Center in Santa Clara, where he would remain for the next month. Chris is now classified as an Incomplete T10 ASIA A. Just five weeks after his accident and one week after returning home from VMC, Chris became a father with the birth of son Christopher. The following two montages chronicle Chris' inspirational efforts to overcome partial paraplegia.

  • Click here to view "We Believe in Chris: Part I"
  • Click here to view "We Believe in Chris: Part II"  

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Team Chris Updates: I, II and III

February 21, 2010

Dear Friends & Family,

As most of you have heard by now, Chris was in a dirt biking accident yesterday and is recovering from surgery at Valley Medical Center in Santa Clara. I wanted to provide a quick update, and to let you know that he will be recovering in the ICU where he can have only one-to-two visitors at a time. The outpouring of love and support has been incredible, and I've told Chris about every visitor, text and email that has come in praying for him. The Bridgman and Dunn families have spent a fair amount of time with him before and after his big surgery, and there is a lot of love, courage and hope going to get us through this difficult time. 

He had his first big surgery on his back and spinal cord last night, led by two of the best neurosurgeons in the entire Bay Area. This was a major surgery and Chris did as well as they could have possibly hoped. A few of us were able to talk with Chris in the ICU following the surgery, and being the hero that he is, he showed some very hopeful signs of improvement.

The important thing for Chris right now is to rest, recover and stay positive. I can tell by the outpouring of love and the small army we had assembled in the waiting area yesterday that many of you will be hoping to visit our Chris. I will keep you all posted as to when the best time for that will be, and you can always try texting me for updates at (XXX) XXX-XXXX (cell phone reception is spotty at best at VMC). Because of our Baby Bridgman on Board, the hospital staff basically forced me home for a couple hours, but I will be heading back there momentarily to be by his side when he wakes up.

We have a long journey of rehabilitation ahead of us, and it is so wonderful to know we have the support of so many beside us in Team Chris. If you would like to send Chris an email, please use this email address and I’ll be sure to print out any emails and bring them to him in the hospital each day. 

W
e don't have definitive answers yet, and we may not for a couple more days. The odds are high he will be in various stages of recovery and rehab at the hospital for some weeks to come, but if anyone is going to pull through this like a champion, it's my superhero husband. Thank you for all of your prayers, and please keep them coming.

Much love and gratitude,
Jenny

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February 24, 2010

Dear Friends & Family,

It is hard to believe that Chris' accident occurred just last Saturday. The past few days have been a whirlwind, and I'm happy to report that we have much to celebrate already. Words cannot express the gratitude that the Bridgman and Dunn families have for your support. Thank you for the mind-blowing amount of phone calls, texts, emails, flowers, magazines, food, cards, visits and hugs. Thank you for your prayers, your stories of inspiration and for all the candles lit in Chris' name. Many of you have offered to help us out in any way possible, and I can assure you we will take you up on your offers in various ways over the coming days, weeks and months.

Your emails have been pouring in, so I began compiling them to show Chris. Well, that has since turned into a booklet nearly 15 pages thick! It's hard for Chris to read right now due to all the medication, but he has loved the emails I've read aloud to him. 

While this week has held some of the scariest moments in our lives, it has also contained some of the most reflective realizations about life and the power of love. Who knew that some of the most profoundly romantic moments of my life would take place holding hands in an ICU, but I guess life is funny in that way. :)

Many of you have asked to come visit. While these visits are the highlights of Chris' day, his nurses come in every hour around the clock, meaning he is never really getting adequate rest. He needs to heal and rest as much as possible right now, so the visits make this difficult. However, if you simply cannot wait, please text me and I will let you know the best day/time. Right now our life is unpredictable so we literally go hour by hour. By next week when we are steadily in the rehab routine, visits should be easier to accommodate. If you can wait until next week that would really be best.

Now to the details...

Chris' surgery on Saturday night could not have gone better. They reinforced his spine after he fractured his L1 vertebrae and smushed his T12, which led to diminished sensation and movement in his lower extremities. His spine is now reinforced by some very special permanent hardware, and they also acted quickly to remove a blood clot pressing on his spinal cord. In hindsight, it is amazing how the string of events that unfolded immediately following his dirt bike accident worked in our favor. He was riding at a track in close proximity to Valley Medical Center, which is recognized as one of the top trauma hospitals in the nation. Two of the top neurosurgeons were called in to work on him (Dr. Lieberson and Dr. Lifshutz), and they operated quickly to stabilize the area and eliminate the scary blood clot. In the days since surgery, Chris has shown progress both in terms of sensation and movement in his legs, and we hope this will continue as his body heals from this major operation.

Today is another milestone to celebrate as they are transferring him to the Rehab Unit where he will begin physical therapy. Again we feel very lucky, as VMC is recognized as having one of the top-notch spinal injury rehab programs in the nation. His recovery will include 3+ hours a day of physical therapy. For those of you who workout with us at 24 Hour Fitness in Mountain View, you know 3 hours is nothin' for our boy Chris! I doubt they have encountered many people with Chris’ same drive, determination, heart and love of fitness. They will focus primarily now on the transitions we will make for everyday life at home with a wheelchair, with a greater emphasis on walking later on in his rehabilitation. All of us in Team Chris believe that he will walk again someday!

The biggest blessing in all of this is knowing that in 5 weeks or so, Chris will be holding the best medicine possible in his arms. Baby Bridgman has already proven to be the light in our lives, and we cannot wait to meet him/her (hopefully not too soon though!) After going through this life-changing event, Chris and I know that we will never take another moment for granted. We feel blessed that our baby(ies) will be raised in a home filled with unconditional love, support, and a husband & wife team that are also best friends.

Speaking of best friends, I cannot go without thanking Chris' buddies. This large group of friends (aka The Bros) is truly Chris' second family, and they have rallied behind him beyond belief. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart- I LOVE you guys! For the record, I have pre-approved Chris' "hall pass" for any bromantic celebratory weekends ahead when he makes it out of the hospital. :)  

Please feel free to forward this email on to others. It will save the family a lot of time if you help spread our updates, especially about limiting visitors for the rest of this week.

I will be in touch with all of you soon with updates and a mailing address for his new room to send cards.

Love,
One Proud Wife



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March 2, 2010

Dear Friends & Family,

I'm happy to report Chris is making great progress in his recovery. When he is not busy charming all the nurses, he spends 3+ hours a day in occupational therapy, recreational therapy and physical therapy. The Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Unit at VMC is truly awesome, and we are surrounded by an army of professionals dedicated to getting Chris home and our lives back on track. VMC also has peer support groups and daily educational sessions that our two families have been attending. While some days are really difficult, others are quite good. We are reminding ourselves that life was like that even before the accident, which helps keep things in perspective.

Thank you for the cards that keep flowing in, all the meals, DVDs, cupcakes, cookies, flowers, balloons...even a pinata. We are preparing to welcome home both Chris and Baby Bridgman within a few weeks, so as you can imagine there is much going on. We are taking "nesting" to a whole new level with some minor construction modification jobs on our home to make the transition easier on Chris. I told him not to get used to his current lifestyle—every meal in bed, not lifting a finger when we relocate "homes," and showering with other females will not fly with me forever! We may also have a conversation soon about the "Survivor"-like beard that he's growing, but of course he still looks incredibly handsome. :)

I know that many of you would like to visit, but please hold off at least for this week. His schedule varies every day as do his pain levels, so it's nearly impossible for me to plan when good visiting times will be. However, I'm updating Chris' iPod with some good inspirational/fun tunes for his daily gym workouts. If you have any good song suggestions for me, please send them my way, and I'll add them to his playlist.

Thank you for making us realize we are not going through this alone. Thank you for continuing to make us laugh, for understanding that some days are very tough, and for reminding us the best is yet to come. I wanted to share with you some photos so you can see for yourself how great he is doing. Yay, Chris!!! 
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Team Chris Updates: IV, V and VI

March 11, 2010

 

Dear Friends & Family,

I’m so happy to report we are getting closer & closer to bringing Chris home! Although it has only been 2 ½ weeks since his dirt biking accident and spinal cord surgery, Chris’ determination and hard work are already paying off. Movement and sensation in his left leg (the “good leg”) are returning to normal levels, and he can transfer without assistance from his wheelchair to bed/cars, stand with leg braces, dress & shower himself, etc. Being Chris, this week he also bench pressed 225 lbs in physical therapy and learned how to “pop a wheelie” in his wheelchair. Now all we need is to master swaddling & diaper changing, and we should be ready to rock. 

 

This week included a couple field trips with other spinal cord patients and the VMC staff. Chris and I had fun cruising around the mall together last weekend, and we had “date night” with our own table at Elephant Bar on Tuesday night.(Perhaps our last dinner a deux without rushing home to babysitters for the rest of the year??)

 

We continue to find solace in being at VMC’s renowned spinal cord rehab program. Besides physical therapy, they offer peer groups, counseling and informational classes on SCI (Spinal Cord Injury). As Wife/Student/Nurse Jenn, I have attended every single SCI class they have offered. (I think I’ve been to eight classes now, sadly more classes than I think I attended during my entire freshman year of college.)

 

Thanks again for the TREMENDOUS continuing love & support. Friends & family have established a dinner-delivery schedule, meaning we are eating better now than before the accident (and hey, no dishes!)  I also want to add that both of Chris’ parents have been just amazing. Kathy spends most every morning with Chris, and she has been a rock for her son (aka her “Little Buddy”). Larry (aka “Coach Pops”) has never missed a day of Chris’ physical therapy and has the most positive outlook of anyone I’ve ever met. Besides the legions of friends that Chris has, I’ve included some pics of Team Christopher’s shortest/cutest members: Dylan, Derek, MacKenzie and Emilie looooove their Uncle Chris!

 

Speaking of babies...Chris and I still haven’t found out if we are having “Sophie Rose” or “Christopher Lawrence,” but we already know we’re bringing home a charmer (he/she sucked their thumb during the entire ultrasound yesterday!) I would also like to thank my parents for being so awesome, as usual. They have spent hours finishing up our nursery and doing home modification projects for their son-in-law.  My mom (Grandma Nancy) has also been my pinch-hitter for our final parenting prep classes. Although I must admit I was a somewhat alarmed when she started doing 30 breaths/2 compressions on our practice CPR baby (it should be 2 breaths/30 compressions.) Hmm…really hoping we never need to use that one.

 

Stay tuned for another update around the corner when both babes are safely back home in Mountain View. Chris is so moved by all your thoughts & prayers, and he cannot wait to share with you all the fun times that lie ahead.

 

With love & thanks, 

Jenn Bridgman

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May 27, 2010

Dear Friends & Family,

It has been over two months since the last “Team Chris” email, so I thought it was time for a brief update to let you know how things are progressing at the Bridgman 3-Ring Circus Household.

The last 10+ weeks of our lives have been eventful, to say the least! After a month in the hospital, Chris came back home. With “Eye of the Tiger” blasting in the family room, the two families secretly gathered to welcome Chris home. Wearing “Team Chris” shirts, it was a cheerful (and much-needed) pit-stop for us on this unplanned road trip into the unknown. Although nurses and other spinal cord patients had forewarned us, we were not prepared for the curve balls of adjusting to life at home.  I have no clue what hospital nurses make, but whatever it is, they are grossly underpaid. Nurse Jenn was nearly fired a few times that brutal first week, but we shall attribute that mainly to the “torpedo” that I was smuggling under my shirt. It took us about one week to get the house set up correctly, the new meds figured out, and his outpatient rehab program in full swing.  It’s a good thing it took only seven days to get semi-readjusted, since that is exactly how long we had before our new roommate arrived: a handsome little fella we call Christopher Lawrence (or Buster Van Fussypants depending on his current disposition).

Yesterday the Los Altos Town Crier featured a story on Chris’ accident and the steps we are taking now to recover and rebuild. It was a beautifully written article and such an honor to be featured!  One thing the article didn’t delve in to in detail was just how hard Chris is working towards recovery. (He is not one of those people to ever toot their own horn, which is where the proud wife steps in.)   

While Chris will be returning to Bank of America at some point down the road, his recovery right now is a full-time job. Actually, it’s the hardest job that he will ever have. In those initial weeks, both Christopher’s were very dependent on me, especially during the morning routine insanity. Thanks to Chris’ sheer determination, he is now almost entirely autonomous around the house. This is a good thing since there were some sleep-deprived mornings that I was going to swaddle my husband and bring the baby a bottle of coffee. I’m happy to report that Chris is not just taking care of himself at this point, but he is also pulling more than his weight in caring for our little dude.  

Despite recent set-backs & ongoing pain, Chris is back full-swing with physical therapy. (As I type this, he is standing in leg-braces and walking around the house with a walker and our awesome physical therapist, Ron—see pic!) In the coming months, Chris will be focused on transitioning from a walker to crutches, adding in pool-based therapy, and visiting renowned rehab facilities both in and out of the state. 

The biggest realization for us is that the emotional journey following spinal cord injury easily rivals the physical journey.  That is why I cannot thank you all enough for helping us through. There have been super high and super low moments, and often within the same day. We would be so lost without friends and family like you—people to help us celebrate the good and people to nod their heads in agreement with us when the situation just plain sucks.  Luckily we have our little “sonshine” to help us through. Like any new parents, we’re basically
OBSESSED with him!

Moving in the right direction…
Love, The Bridgman Fam

 

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February 4, 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

This month marks the one-year anniversary of Chris’ accident—a date that evokes several emotions as it draws near. Chris and I would be remiss if we didn’t pause to thank you all, once again, for your support.

In reality, you have been a part of the Bridgman family’s daily lives for the past 12 months. Knowing that we have people cheering us on is an amazing dose of medicine. The ability to revisit your emails filled with compassion, positivity and faith is truly the gift that keeps on giving. We have much to be thankful for, and much to thank others for.

Chris has returned full-time to his job as a mortgage lender at Bank of America. Who would have thought the ability to have a “Case of the Mondays” would get us this excited, but hey, stranger things have happened!

It seems we blinked a few times, and our son Christopher is about to turn 1. (Umm…really? Please tell me we’re not all aging at this same rate.) Other than growing up WAY too fast, Little Christopher is pretty much 100% perfection in every way. Chris and I love being parents, but more importantly, we love being parents to this awesome Li’l Duder. Not only is Christopher crawling at speeds that would make Carl Lewis weep, but he can type 75 WPM, and like Daddy, is a natural at locking in low interest rates (see pic).

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of Chris’ accident and all blessings that have come our way since, we are packing up and heading to Maui. Well, just for a week, but we’re pretty fired up about it just the same.

I’ve been spending a fair chunk of my time writing these days—a rewarding and therapeutic experience, even if I have to get up around 4:00 a.m. to do it. My website (a work-in-progress) includes recent writing samples, as well as links/photos to Chris’ ongoing recovery efforts. (www.jenniferbridgman.com). I’ve attached a couple recent articles here, too.

Thank you again for being in our lives.

Lots of Love,
The Bridgmans