Jennifer Bridgman

*2015 Updates*

 

Team Chris: Update X

October 14, 2015

Hi Friends & Family,

A few exciting updates (and a video of Chris walking!) to share with you all...

First, Chris' spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation is now in full swing at acclaimed Craig Hospital in Colorado, just outside of Denver. His first busy week entailed settling into his on-site apartment for the month and meeting with his assigned doctors, nurses and therapists. Not only did Chris' SCI team help readjust his wheelchair settings to better accommodate his frame and reevaluate his current medications list, but they performed a number of tests to check things such as bladder and kidney function. Most people outside of the SCI community are unaware, but paralysis affects much more than one's ability to walk, move or feel; it often entails a number of devastating secondary conditions such as renal failure, cardiac problems, temperature regulation, skin changes/pressure sores, muscle atrophy and bone density loss. To say that Chris was relieved to hear a glowing report on his bladder and kidneys is a gross understatement. In the past five years, he has remained diligent about his health and dedicated to his fitness--but he still worried often about what was going on inside his body. What a relief to hear his efforts are paying off. :)

Fast-forward to Week Two, and the focus has now shifted to Chris' training with the innovative Ottobock C-Brace. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this video could be worth ten thousand! Have a look for yourself and see this life-changing brace in action. And please note that this was only Day 2 of brace training (whoa!). We can only imagine his progress by the end of the month. (Click here to see Chris' C-Brace Training Video)

In equally thrilling news...

On Sept. 27, 2015, the Bridgman family joined forces with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to host a private fundraiser in support of the Reeve Foundation's groundbreaking epidural stimulation research project ("The Big Idea.") What an honor to be in a room filled with so many brilliant minds, tireless advocates and supportive friends & family.

Thanks in part to your contributions, we've helped to raise over $85,000 in funds--and that number is still climbing! A number of guest speakers flew out for the event, including Peter Wilderotter, President and CEO of the Reeve Foundation, and Dustin Shillcox, a complete T-5 paraplegic and one of the four original participants of The Big Idea project. (One powerful highlight of the evening was when Dustin performed a live demonstration of the how the epidural stimulation device works and STOOD before us!) Esteemed scientist Aileen Anderson, Ph.D. was also on-hand to inform and inspire us with the latest developments in SCI research, and emotions ran high as Chris' mom, Kathy, closed the evening with a mother's perspective on the emotional impact that a spinal cord injury brings.

Click on the following link to view "Chris Bridgman: My SCI Story," the family video we played to kick off the event.

Overall, the evening was a huge success on numerous levels, and we are proud to now be aligned with Team Reeve. The Reeve Foundation was a primary source of information to us in those daunting first months after Chris' accident, and they've remained a primary resource as we keep our eyes focused on Chris' well-being and future recovery. The Reeve Foundation's motto is "Today's Care. Tomorrow's Cure," which is reflected in their wide-range of programs. In fact, the Reeve Foundation even has a NRN (NeuroRecovery Network) Facility within Craig Hospital, where Chris is currently residing.

Together with the Reeve Foundation, our family will continue to investigate long-term local corporate sponsorship opportunities in the Bay Area, as well as post-event coverage in the local media in support of The Big Idea. We are getting closer to our goal of funding one participant in the next phase of the study, at a cost of just under $500k, and our family feels honored to be leading the cause in the Bay Area. Should you have questions regarding the study or suggestions toward reaching our fundraising goals, please contact me at jennifer.e.bridgman@gmail.com.

In closing, thank you not only for your continued interest and emotional support as we charge onward in Chris' recovery, but for taking an active role in helping to make victory over paralysis a future reality for thousands of families just like ours.

Please visit www.ReeveBigIdea.org to learn more about epidural stimulation research and to make a donation to this life-changing cause.

We've never been more hopeful for the future or more grateful for your support.

Fondly, 
The Bridgman Family
              

**********************************************************************************************

Team Chris: Update IX

 

May 28, 2015

Dear friends & family,

We wanted to share some happy news with you all! 2015 is turning out to be a remarkable year for our family in many ways.

First, we are thrilled to announce that a third prince will be joining the Bridgman kingdom in early December! It's our wildest dream come true to have three little ones, and we couldn't be more grateful for the precious fella on the way. Topher & Hunter are beyond excited for a baby bro, and of course, all the cousins have been most helpful in coming up with baby names (so far "Batman," "Olaf," "Elmo," and "Topher" are top contenders.) It still seems surreal that this miracle SuperBaby is on the way, and it will probably feel that way until we cradle him in our arms for the first time. As Topher would exclaim, "Ho-wy Towedo!" What a gift this baby is for our entire family.

When we first found out we were expecting a second time back in 2011, I was convinced (wrongly, it turned out!) that Hunter was going to be a girl. We were driving home from the doctor's office, and I began rattling off my list of favorite girl names. Chris was quiet for a moment and then said, "Brothers would be so amazing, too. I've always wondered what it would be like to have a brother." He briefly took one hand off the wheel to reach over and grasp my hand closest to him, then added, "And I think having sons would be God's way of looking out for us after my injury...some strong boys around to always help out Mommy." Now we aren't necessarily religious people by any means, but when he said this to me, it just grabbed my heart. I loved his words so much in that moment, and even more so today. I reflect on what he said often and cannot help but feel blessed every time. To discover that we are expecting a third son just feels right. And so very fun! And hey, all we basically need this round is diapers...score!

Another exciting update is that Chris has just been fitted for a revolutionary leg brace. It's called the C-Brace, designed by the German company, Ottobock. This brace has the potential to truly change our lives! Once he has completed three weeks of in-patient training at the renowned Craig Hospital in Colorado this fall, Chris will be able to walk upright, climb stairs, walk on sand, etc. (I've heard people can even change up to 3x's as many diapers with this leg brace--I cannot wait to put this to the test.) It brings tears to our eyes to think of the ways, big and small, that this will improve his daily life. Possible increased cardiovascular health, bone density, muscle mass....he'll also have less wear & tear on his shoulder joints from nonstop wheelchair use. We'll be able to travel to previously inaccessible locations. Not to mention the ability for Chris to see people eye-to-eye again, which is something he misses dearly. The rep who flew out twice to meet with Chris and take measurements boasts a 100% success rate with this brace--and that's because the rep ONLY moves forward with clients he believes will succeed in the brace. In the five years since Chris' spinal cord injury, this is easily one of our biggest recovery milestones.

Chris' work is going well, too. He's very happy to be back at Opes Advisors in Los Altos (formerly Absolute Mortgage Bank.) I also want to thank him for being a rockstar dad each and every night when my "morning sickness" has kicked into overdrive. Without him, I'm not sure the boys would have gotten regular baths or that I could have survived the first trimester. So glad that's behind us!

In other news, our big boy Topher is about to graduate preschool! He's had a super year. What a joy to watch him shine...learning to read, write his name and make a couple good buddies. He has just completed his fourth season of Little Hoops basketball, which seems to be his favorite sport of the moment. Other hobbies include baseball, Legos, paper airplanes, chopsticks karate class, Candy Land and Chutes & Ladders, going to the local arcade, riding his bike, helping Mommy make pancakes, playing army with Grandpa Chuck, playing Minecraft video games, and asking Siri totally inappropriate questions on the iPhone. This summer will include Redwood Grove nature camp (with cousin Emilie!), Star Wars Lego camp, swim lessons at the YMCA and lots of trips to Great America. It's still hard to believe our first "baby" is off to kindergarten next year. 

Hunter (who turns 3 this weekend!) is about to complete his first year of preschool. He, too, has grown crazy-fast before our eyes (let's just say the match-up is quite even when the boys wrestle these days.) Hunter's vocabulary is continuing to explode, as is his love of costumes. He regularly shows up to school with a cape or fireman boots, and at home, he changes a minimum of three times by lunch. When we read before bed, he must stop and change his outfit between each book according to the topic: full farmer overalls + John Deere hat for a book on tractors, complete SF Giants attire (including cap + foam finger) for a book on baseball, Spider-Man pj's + mask for a book on superheroes. The whole process can easily take an hour, with about 20 minutes of actual reading. Quite the entertainer, we would expect nothing less from our designated dancing machine/karaoke king of the family. A natural athlete like his bro, Hunter attends weekly gym class, with swim lessons and basketball on the agenda this summer. 

We are indescribably grateful that Hunter will get to experience the highly-coveted role of Big Bro, too. Both boys are intrigued by my rapidly-growing belly; as long as these nine months may feel for me, they may likely feel like an eternity for the two brothers anxiously awaiting our new roommate. :)

Other than a few days in Pismo, a week in Tahoe and summer camps for the boys, we have a relaxed summer ahead. Please drop us a note and let us know how you are doing, too!

Wishing you much health and happiness!

With love,
Chris, Jenny, Topher, Hunter & Bambino #3 

PS: Click here to view some inspiring video testimonials of fellow Ottobock brace users whose lives have dramatically improved.




************************************************************************************************
Team Chris: Update VIII

Five Years Strong

February 20, 2015 marked five years since Chris' spinal cord injury and resulting paraplegia. "Team Chris" gathered to throw him a surprise party, honoring him for five years of facing each day with bravery and heart. Five years of living in the present instead of dwelling on the past or waiting around for the future. Five years of even deeper love and friendships. And, of course, five years closer to a cure. We remain Team Chris: Five Years Strong!

Click
here to watch the Five Years Strong video montage.

Five years ago
Our lives took a turn.
A crash, a surgery,
The basics to relearn.

You met trauma with courage
And heartache with hope.
You proved right away
That somehow you'd cope.

But then you went further
And shone like a star.
Refusing to be defined
By an injury or scar.

You returned to work,
Remained a loving spouse,
We worked as a team
To keep laughter in the house.

Look around here tonight
And see what you mean.
A son, uncle, brother,
A lifelong bro team.

But your grandest role,
Your greatest joy,
Is being Daddy
To our two little boys.

They worship your every move,
They live for your love.
Their real-life superhero
Without cape or gloves.

Pillow fights and forts,
Legos and army guys,
Nothing about you is injured
In their wise, watchful eyes.

Our family's "new normal,"
The highs and the lows.
We've felt true miracles
Along with the blows.

You are my soldier,
You bravely forge ahead.
When life knocks you down
You rise up instead.

This unwanted milestone,
Five years in the chair.
The pain, the struggles,
It can seem so unfair.

But that’s why we're here;
Our goal is so pure.
We stand unwavering
Until there is a cure.

So when you feel lost,
Like you don't belong.
Think of Team Chris:
Five Years Strong.

May tonight fill your bucket,
Add wind to your sails,
And remind you again
That Love Never Fails.

With love,
Proud Wife