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Amy Van Dyken-Rouen talks dark days, hard recovery

LISTEN: Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

By now, all of us know the story of former Olympic swimmer and gold medalists Amy Van Dyken-Rouen, who severed her spine in an ATV crash in eastern Arizona in early June.

After the accident, she underwent a life-saving procedure at a Scottsdale hospital and rehabilitation in Colorado. She is already out of the hospital.

“Things are going really, really well,” she told KTAR News’ Mac & Gaydos on Thursday.

Van Dyken-Rouen, who took her first steps since the accident last week with the aid of a machine, said she’s looking forward to one thing: home.

“I’m just waiting for my husband’s friends to finish whatever the heck they’re doing to our house so that I can get home,” she laughed.

Her entire recovery has been marked by high spirits and a positive attitude.

“This is how it’s been the whole time,” said her husband, former NFL punter Tom Rouen said of his wife’s positive attitude.

But that doesn’t mean her recovery was all smiles or easy.

“Of course there’s dark times,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “I shared with everybody on Twitter there was one of those days just the other day.”

She said the accident hasn’t changed her outlook on life at all, but it does give her a new set of challenges.

“It’s just like everybody else — if you’re paralyzed or able-bodied — you’re going to have a bad day. It just happens that, if you’re paralyzed, carpet can actually be one of the things that makes you have a bad day.

“You just get through them, just like you do everything else.”

Van Dyken-Rouen credited her strong workout regime as the reason for not only her quick recovery, but the reason she survived the crash.

“I really think that if I wouldn’t have been training the way I was training before the accident, I don’t think I’d be here,” she said.

In addition to the publicized injuries, she said she broke an additional four vertebra, effectively damaging her back from her shoulders to tailbone.

How did she recover? She reverted to her Olympic discipline.

“Except this time, instead of going for a gold medal, I was working to get my life back,” she said.

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