A Recap of CR’s Recovery from his 2005 Injury

A Recap of CR’s Recovery from his 2005 Injury

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Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006
After 34 days of hospitalization, C.R. has been released and has gone home to his parents’ house in Truckee, CA. “C.R. is living with us until he can drive and be independent,” said C.R.’s dad, Rusty.

“It has been an astonishing show of love and support from his family, friends, and even fans,” he added. “Schoolmates drove from Truckee just to see CR for one night or an afternoon. His compatriot pro skiers spent evenings cheering him up when I’m sure he’d seen plenty of his parents. His sponsors sent presents, came by and pulled for him to return to the ski scene. We owe an impossible debt of gratitude to ‘the U’ hospital staff who just saved CR’s life. They did that while making us as comforable and informed as possible.”

C.R. continues therapy (occupational, speech and physical) at his parents home, but he is officially out of the woods and rumor is he’s planning to be back on the hill by spring.

This will end our daily and weekly updates of C.R.’s progress. It certainly is a Happy New Year for the Johnson family.

Monday, Jan. 9, 2006
C.R. Johnson is scheduled to be released from hospital on Tuesday, a month after a backcountry accident left him in a coma.

C.R. will move to his parents house until he can live independently. Meanwhile, months of physical and speech therapy will continue.

“He is up for it and I won’t be surprised to see C.R. back on the snow in the spring,” said C.R.’s dad. “As always, we thank all of you for the prayers and energy which have helped us through this ordeal. We quite literally could not have done it alone.”

Almost 400 e-mails have come in to the [email protected] e-mail account from the USA to Scandanavia to Japan and everywhere in between.

Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006
“C.R. continues in rehab doing physical, occupational and speech therapy every day,” said C.R.’s dad in an e-mail. “He is having some difficulty coming to grips with his circumstances which is that he has to relearn even the most mundane daily moves like getting up and standing, etc,” he said. In a way, this is a good thing because it shows signs of a healing brain.

“We are hopeful that within three weeks we can bring CR home where he will continue therapy in Reno and in Truckee.”

Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005
C.R. has moved to neural rehab, the last step before going home. This is where C.R. will re-learn how to perform all of the functions we take for granted, such as sitting, standing and walking.

C.R. could be home in as few as two or three weeks depending on his progress in neural rehab.

”[This was] one of our best Christmases. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement,” said Rusty Johnson in an e-mail.

C.R. can now read as well, so be sure to continue sending your encouragement to [email protected].

Monday, Dec. 26, 2005
Powder’s Derek Taylor checks in from Salt Lake City

CR made huge strides towards recovery over Christmas. I stopped by for a visit on Monday and was surprised to find him alert and talking in a whisper. He is moving both sides of his body now, and when I arrived, had just gotten back from physical therapy, where he was working on standing again. CR is already showing the same determination that made him a world-class athlete; according to his parents, he asked the physical therapist “don’t give up on me.”

He was able to recognize me and answered a few questions, but most of his conversation was centered on food. After a week of being fed through a tube, he was obsessed with eating again. He waited most of the morning to be cleared by the speech therapist to eat solid food. This, or course, just made him more hungry and frustrated. He kept asking for Mexican food, said he was going crazy with hunger, and that he was “going to snap.” At one point, his father asked him if he remembered what city he was in, and CR responded, “Shit-Hole No-Food City.”

Once the therapist arrived, CR tried to leverage the tests she was asking him to complete to get food. “I’ll do anything you want, just give me some food,” he whispered. The therapist went through a variety of tests, starting water, then juice, apple sauce, and finally graham crackers. The purpose of the test, she said, was to make sure he wouldn’t accidentally inhale food and liquids and further complicate the pneumonia he is fighting off in his right lung. “I won’t aspirate, I promise,” he said, using the nurses terminology.

CR just started to move the left side of his body, so for his final test, the therapist put a cracker in his left hand and let him feed himself. Possibly the most humbling moment of the visit was watching one of the world’s most prolific skiers, someone we’ve grown accustomed to seeing boost 20-foot airs out of the pipe, struggle to stick a cracker in his mouth. When the session was over, however, CR was cleared for solid foods and put on a restricted diet.

According to his mother, Lorraine, some of CR’s most significant breakthroughs of the week have come with Tanner Hall in the room. Tanner was the only one in the room when he opened his eyes for the first time. Lorraine says he ran out of the room to the nurse’s station and yelled, “Yo nurse! Come here quick, he opened his eyes.” The next day CR was awake when Tanner arrived, and CR lifted both arms for the first time.

While his progress is promising, CR has a long way to go. The Johnson’s have gotten hundreds of e-mails at the [email protected] address, and say they support is making a huge difference. Lorraine says CR is able to read, so keep the positive messages coming.

Snowbird pitched in to help make the Johnson’s stay in Shi-er-Salt Lake City as easy as possible by offering free lift tickets to the family so they could take a much-needed break from the hospital and hopefully enjoy the storm forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday

Monday, Dec. 26, 2005
It has been a very merry Christmas for the Johnson family. C.R.’s MRI came out negative in all tests which led to the removal of the C-collar and the breathing tube.

He is also talking (whispering) with his parents and has been moved out of the critical care unit.

All in all, great news about one of skiing’s best. The road to recovery has officially started on the right path.

Merry Christmas, C.R.

Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2005
It may be the biggest day yet in C.R.’s path to recovery. “C.R.’s eyes are open and he is responding to some commands,” said his dad, Rusty.

C.R. is communicating with his parents through “squinching” his eyes. He can also move his right arm and leg when asked, although the left side is still not fully functional.

“It has been easy as parents to be proud of C.R. when he is in the X Games or skiing big-mountain lines in the movies,” Rusty said in an e-mail. “But it doesn’t come close to how proud we are today as through the fog and disorientation he does something really hard—like move his leg.”

You can send e-mail to C.R. and his family at [email protected].

Monday, Dec. 19, 2005
The sign of the day is C.R.’s eyes are open. But, he has a severe fever and is fighting to come out of the coma. According to Lorraine Johnson, he went from responding to not responding, seemingly too tired to respond to the parade of visitors making the trip to seem him.

Lorraine says she is very thankful for the visitors but is going to have to stop all but a few close family members from being in the room so that C.R. can rest.

Please spread the word that visitors will not be able to see C.R. for a while and to check in with the hospital before making the trip.

The support for C.R. and his family has been amazing as hundreds of e-mails, letters and gifts have poured in. The family appreciates the thoughtfulness and the support.

Sunday, Dec. 18, 2005:
Lorraine Johnson says that C.R. opened his eyes halfway yesterday and seems to be looking in the direction of people’s voices. Tanner has been there for the last two days and C.R. seemed to look in Tanner’s direction last night. This is great news; however, C.R. is fighting many other complications like blood clots in both arms and a case of pneumonia.

Friday, Dec. 16, 2005:
Word from C.R.’s dad, Russell Johnson, is that C.R. continued to slightly improve today. “His fever is down and he responds to the pain in a more appropriate way,” he said.

Tanner Hall arrived today to visit, reading to his friend at his bedside. Tanner told Freeskier that he’s staying positive about C.R.’s recovery. “We need everyone’s prayers now. Keep the positive thoughts coming.”

You can send your positive thoughts to C.R. and his family at [email protected].

Thursday, Dec. 15, 2005:
According to Lorraine Johnson, C.R.’s condition has improved in the last couple of hours. He has not opened his eyes, but he is moving more than he has in the last seven days.

“He is starting to make expressions that look like himself. He looks like C.R. again. All of a sudden it looks like he’s coming to life.”

We send our best to C.R. and his family and hope for more good news in the coming days.

Please send your thoughts for CR to [email protected].

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2005:
According to CR’s mother, Lorraine Johnson, C.R.’s condition remains serious and mostly unchanged. He is currently in a non-induced coma and has been taken off sedation drugs.

Monday, Dec. 12, 2005:
CR Johnson sustained a serious head injury last Thursday while filming inbounds at Brighton ski area in Utah.

Evan Raps, and several other riders who work with the film company C.R. is a part-owner of, The Bigger Picture, were filming an inbounds jump sequence that involved a rapid-fire succession of riders coming off a small hit – a practice common to ski and snowboard films. Raps, who jumped last in the group, and didn’t actually see the accident, told Freeskier that C.R. was the first off the jump, with Kye Peterson jumping directly after him, somehow coming out of the air and landing on C.R..

“I think it’s important that people know C.R. was wearing a helmet when this happened,” says Evan Raps, who was at the scene of the accident. “We all decided to wear them full time this year. Unfortunately the impact was below the helmet brow. This was an accident and a freak thing.”

Brighton ski patrol officially reports that the accident occurred inbounds and on the Millicent area of the mountain under the lift. He was air-lifted from Brighton to the University of Utah Hospital after the injury.

Currently C.R. is in very serious condition and being held in the critical care unit at the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City. He is in a coma. His mother Lorraine and father Russ are with C.R. in Utah.

C.R. Johnson has been an innovator friend in the ski industry since he was 15 years old. He first appeared in Freeskier with an impressive 1440 sequence photo taken at Squaw Valley in 1999 and has been a force in ski magazines and film ever since.

But far beyond C.R.’s huge athletic talent, he is a deeply thoughtful person who has worked diligently to progress the sport he loves both on and off the hill. Tonight C.R. and his family need the thoughts and prayers of all of those in the ski industry and beyond.

“C.R. improved for about 5 minutes yesterday. Yesterday was Sunday and the prayers of everyone must have helped. Russ put up a card from the McConkeys in C.R.’s room and I think that card from his friends helped too,” Lorraine told us today.

Our best thoughts are with C.R. and his family tonight and in the coming days

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