It started in the wee hours of the morning — a quick email dashed off to colleagues and friends.
“Our son, Ted, had a serious mountain bike accident. The outlook is not good. We are glad to have him alive and breathing on his own. Beyond that, I don’t know.”
Timothy and Jorja Krause had just taken a call that no parent ever wants to receive. Their twenty-five year old son, Theo (called Ted in his younger years), had sustained a severe spinal cord injury in an accident on a remote mountain trail outside Crested Butte, Colorado. Having lost all sensation from his neck down, Theo was airlifted to Grand Junction and was heading into surgery. The initial prognosis was bleak.
In the days that followed, as Theo regained his strength in the ICU at St. Mary’s Hospital, and as he rehabilitated at Craig, Tim continued his email updates.
“It was good for me; it was a way to process everything I was being told,” says Tim. “What I didn’t realize was that the updates were starting to be forwarded to others — I didn’t know how big the distribution had gotten.”
Tim found writing to be cathartic as he processed Theo’s injury and what it meant to his family. His updates grappled with big issues of science, faith and parenting. “You are forced to test everything that you’ve ever believed when you go through something like this,” he says. “Whether the readers agreed with me or didn’t agree, my writing allowed others to join in as I thought through these things.”
Theo progressed quickly through Craig’s program and was discharged from inpatient therapy after only seven weeks, an outcome that many deemed remarkable.
As Tim’s emails slowed with Theo’s progress through outpatient therapy, his friends and colleagues reached out and asked for updates. Many suggested that he write a book.
“At first, I thought it was crazy idea - it’s a huge project,” says Tim. “But I eventually went to Theo and asked his permission. He said it was OK as long as I didn’t make it a ‘hero story’ about him.”
The resulting book, “Finding Theo: A Father’s True Story of Loss, Courage, and Discovery,” was published in August and is available from Amazon, Tattered Cover, Barnes & Noble and almost anywhere else books are sold.
While Theo’s story is the thread that runs throughout the book, the heart of the story is in the profiles of the rescuers, doctors and therapists who played a role in his recovery.
To hear their stories and learn how they had come to cross paths with the Krause family, Tim spent months tracking down and interviewing individuals who helped Theo.
Craig’s Dr. Berliner and therapists Maggie (Ireland) Dahlin, Chuck Hammond and Caitlin Glennon are featured prominently in the book.
Tim found that the vast majority of his interviewees had set out on a path in life only to have that path interrupted by adversity or tragedy. “So many said that after they were forced to rethink their original path, they discovered what they were really supposed to be doing,” says Tim. “They really resonated with their gifts and how those gifts could be applied in the world.”
Tim says while the book is uplifting, it is not a self-help book. “It’s not a book that says ‘Here are 10 steps to a happy life.’ There are no clean answers to our story,” he says. “But the message of our story is that if you dedicate yourself to a vision for your future, even in the face of tragic loss, you can do more than you imagined. Who you become is not defined by the things you cannot do. And, you are not alone in that journey. People will step in to help you, just like they helped my family.”
Two years after his accident, Theo is walking, running, snowboarding and living independently in Washington, D.C. He writes in the book’s epilogue, “I have had the opportunity to learn that joy can come from suffering and that empathy leads to happiness. Wisdom begins with ‘I can.' These lessons did not come easily.”
Tim hopes that it is these lessons that will resonate with the book’s readers. “I hope that it helps people coming out of Craig, and I hope that it helps medical professionals be reminded that what they do every day has life consequences for a long time.”
Other Books by Craig Graduates
“58 Feet: The Second That Changed Our Lives”
Mark and Robyn Glaser were involved in a serious motorcycle accident in 2010. Mark sustained brain and spinal injuries and spent six weeks rehabilitating at Craig. He wrote a book, “58 Feet,” about his accident, surgeries, rehabilitation and recovery. The project originally began as a journal for his then-unborn child. To piece together his story, he relied on feedback from many people, journal entries kept by Robyn, hospital and physician reports, and police and EMT reports. The couple hopes the book will inspire others to tackle the challenges they face. “58 Feet” is available on Amazon, and all proceeds will benefit the Craig Hospital Foundation.
“My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope”
Craig benefactor Dave Liniger was an inpatient at Craig in 2012, learning to walk again following a staph infection that left him paralyzed from the neck down. After three critical surgeries and six months in the hospital, Dave returned home. He wrote a book, “My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope,” about his experience with his illness and recovery.
According to Dave, the book will help those facing tragedy find the courage to accept their situation and do what is necessary to take the next step toward a meaningful life. Dave and his wife, Gail, are the founders of RE/MAX LLC. The book is available on Amazon.
“Cycle of Hope”
On September 17, 2000, Tricia Downing's life took a detour. While training on her bicycle, she was struck by a car that turned directly in her path. She was paralyzed from the chest down.
As a competitive road and track cyclist and lifelong athlete, losing the use of her legs was devastating to her. “Cycle of Hope” chronicles Tricia's journey from the first moments of impact with the car through rehab at Craig and her emergence as a world-class athlete. Tricia also is the author of “Chance for Rain,” a novel which was published in August 2018. Both books are available on Amazon, at Denver-area Tattered Cover locations, and barnesandnoble.com.