Support for Lauren De Crescenzo
Lauren De Crescenzo is a sister, daughter, granddaughter, girlfriend, bae, bike racer, scholar, student, coach, and a friend. She is family, famry, and an incredible teammate on the Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling womens team. Best known for her incredible humor, positive spirits, and long course stamina – when the going gets tough, Lauren gets going. She is also known by her many nicknames, such as the Wolfpack, woofpack, ROREN, laurenissima, LDC, Bambina, Leather, TheStrongestPony, add your own here… Everyone that meets Lauren immediately becomes a friend. It seems Lauren’s goal in life is to make everyone around her laugh and be happy – it is almost pathological for her, focusing on making everyone happy.
On Saturday, April 2, 2016, Lauren was involved in a serious cycling accident while participating in the San Dimas Stage Race in Southern California. The race was 56miles/8 circuits on rolling terrain. The accident occurred during the field sprint just after Lauren had led out teammate Mia for the win. Lauren went down at about 100m.
The injuries were obviously serious from the start. Teammate Beth Ann, and several members of other teams with medical skills came to the aid of Lauren to clear her breathing and stabilize her spine Lauren was then flown by helicopter to USC Medical Center’s trauma unit. Once in the hospital, everyone was happy to see that she was stable. She has several broken bones and severe lacerations. Her head injury is the most concern although the early CT scans did not show serious acute injury. Subsequent CT showed some bleeding, but the medical team remains positive.
What Happens Now
Lauren has been in the ICU for a week now. Her recovery has been slow, but promising. She is waking on and off during the day and has started communicating by nods and smiles. She's responding to rap. She is able to move her fingers. We are hopeful that her responsiveness will continue to improve as she recovers.
Lauren is a fighter. She doesn’t take anything sitting down; it’s not even a question for us about whether she will fully recover.
One big unknown is with insurance. From her emergency and critical care, to a long term recovery and therapy, the medical bills will be enourmous. Lauren does have insurance, but we are reminded of what someone once said, "insurance is like a hospital gown; you only think you are fully covered."
We are putting together a medical fund under trust which will have Lauren’s father as the trustee. He will be responsible for using funds to support Lauren where the insurance and Medicaid do not help. Our goal is to raise $75,000, we hope that this will be sufficient to take some financial burden off Lauren and the family so they can focus on her full and healthy recovery.
Thank you to Lauren’s friends and family. Thank you to the cycling community; all of the competitors, staff, and sponsors. We have had so many people reach out from around the world asking how they can help. This is how we can help. Lauren never hesitated to ride in support of her team. Let's team-up and join the ride to recovery for Lauren.
Hello everyone! Thank you for your support through this incredibly difficult time. It’s almost been a year since my crash, but I still think about it every single day. It’s changed every aspect of my life, and I’m still working to put the pieces back together. I’d like to update you on my therapy, bike racing, and graduate school future.
Your financial support through the GoFundMe has been a key factor in my recovery. It’s allowed me to pay for many of the therapies that would not otherwise be covered by insurance. I’d like to tell you a little about what I have been doing:
Since my time at Craig Hospital, I’ve been attending speech therapy. Speech-language therapists assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication disorders. Most recently, my Speech Therapist has been helping me with strategies to improve my processing speed, memory, and attention.
I have also been treated periodically with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT is a procedure, done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses such as severe depression. To be honest, since waking from the accident with a serious TBI, I’ve been struggling with severe depression. My injury completely changed every single aspect of my life. But having a well-rounded program that includes ECT, psychiatry, medications, exercise and general therapy has helped me immensely. My family and friends have also had a big positive impact on my mental health recovery.
I’ve also attended occupational therapy - in the Craig hospital and for about a month out of the hospital. Occupational therapy is a form of therapy for recuperating from physical illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life. I am convinced this therapy has helped me successfully return to work. I’m currently working 30 hours a week at Sklar Exploration Company, where I worked part-time before the accident. They’ve been incredibly supportive and understanding, and have worked with me through this entire ordeal. Thanks Sklar! Love you guys!
I graduated from physical therapy fairly quickly. I was attending physical therapy every day at Craig Rehabilitation and attended sessions for about a month after being discharged from the hospital. Even though I was in peak physical condition at the time of the crash, I still had to relearn many movement patterns and coordination. But because of my fitness, I was able to move quite quickly through this.
I’m still training every day because I don’t know how not to train. I wasn’t allowed to ride outside (because of balance) until about a month ago so I’ve been riding the indoor trainer all the time (especially Zwift to keep things interesting). I’ve also been running and taking classes at the gym- functional movement (to work on balance), Pilates, yoga and core. I’m trying to get to my pre-crash shape – being a racer was so much of who I am – I don’t want to give up hope of being a bike racer, although for now – the type of racing will have to be different. I am excited to tell you I had my first race back on Sunday: Old Man Winter, a 100km gravel race in Lyons, Colorado. I was stoked to be in 3rd place until the first technical gravel section where I had to go carefully - I was happy to finish 6th place in the 100km. I plan to return to the Rouge Roubaix in about a month – this is a 105 mile gravel race in St. Francisville, LA – which I have won for the last two years – wish me luck on #3! Shout out to my gravel team/squad - I really appreciate the continued support from DNA Cycling, Cotton Sox Photography, Cannondale, and Wasatch Bike Support. I am lucky to have these great sponsors continue to believe in me.
GRADUATE SCHOOL and the FUTURE:
I also have big news in graduate schools – I have decided to get a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology – I crammed for GRE’s at the end of last year, needless to say, this was a big challenge while under regular ECT – I did sufficiently well where I could apply to several graduate programs across the country. …So far I’ve been accepted by Columbia University in NYC and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore!!! Needless to say, I am super excited to get accepted to these schools first. I am still waiting to hear back from Emory University (my Alma Mater), Colorado University, and the University of Utah. Thanks to family and friends that have supported me and encouraged me to go back to school. I really want to also thank former State Representative Dianne Primavera who reached out to me while I was at Craig Rehabilitation Center in Denver. She was kind enough to write a letter of recommendation for my attending graduate school. She’s even helping me now to get more experience in the Public Health Field. I’m going to be working with with her to support non-profit organizations promoting health and wellness for children. I’m going to be an advocate and give presentations alongside Olympian/ Bolder Boulder Founder Frank Shorter and Primavera. I’ll be giving my first speech at Boulder Heights Middle School on March 15th. This year’s topic is resilience – I’m excited to get my speech ready!
Thank you for your support, thanks to every one of you – it’s only been through your letters, calls, emails, and gofundme support that I have been able to piece my life back together. Knowing that all of you are out there has given me the strength to survive; the strength to recover; and one day, the strength to excel.
This has been the scariest and hardest four months of my life. I want to say thank you to everyone who was able to contribute to my medical fund (hospital bills, ambulance, rehab!), said prayers and sent out good vibes. And bought T-shirts with a wolf on them! #TeamLauren
I still can’t work, but I finally got the OK to ride my bike outside again, which has been really important with keeping my head on straight. I’ve ridden with “chaperones” (thanks Timmy and Andrew!) two days in a row. It’s the only thing that feels normal and gets my head out of those dark dark dark places.
First of all thank you Beth Ann, my teammate, who was first to me at the accident, she stabilized me - literally saved my life. Thanks to Dave and Tyson (Tyrone) for being at the ER until my family arrived. I want to thank my entire family for being there since day 1—ICU in California. Without you guys, I don’t know where I would be right now. Probably still at the hospital…..I want to say thank you to all my friends who were able to visit me in the rehabilitation center in Denver- my smash bff Heather, protégé Katie, my pony Anna Grace, Lizard, second parents Alex & Cathy, Andrew, Tyrone, Mike (another TBI survivor!), Brett and my amazing co-workers Katie and Laura (I know I forgot someone). I’d also like to thank everyone who’s been there for me as a readjust to normal life, everyone above and especially Timmy Duggan who had the same accident in 2008. I want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out and kept me in your thoughts this entire time, I know there’s a lot of you! I can't list everyone, but I think about all of you - I could not have made it this far without all of you.
I will be going to outpatient therapy for sometime to come, but I will be getting out more and more to see friends and family. I'm working on getting my life back, stay tuned for Lauren 2.0!
Current Status: she was released today to her family, they are working on short-term and long-term living situations. Currently, Lauren is required to have someone with her 24-7; in the near term, this will be family. She will continue rehabilitation through a hospital in Boulder on an out-patient basis. She will not be able to work for sometime - but she will be able to see friends and family. For those of you in Colorado that have been wanting to see Lauren - please feel free to contact her through her phone, family, or friends (direct message me if you need any contact info). If Lauren's responses are sporadic on phone, you can contact mom (Michelle) or dad (Guy). Guy has been wanting to send updates this week, but things have been really crazy busy, he is happy to give updates by phone if you would like to contact him. Lauren is really looking forward to seeing everyone. She would appreciate going out, hanging out, and seeing friends (just don't ask her to go riding, understandably, cycling is not a topic she wants to talk about right now).
Together we can all work together to help Lauren fully recover and become independent again. #TeamLauren
Update from the blog (May 5):
Lauren’s family had a meeting with all of Lauren’s doctors on Monday. Lauren has 5 doctors and many staff members assigned to her recovery at Craig Hospital. To summarize, every doctor and therapist agrees that Lauren is progressing well. Her physical injuries are healing “at a rapid pace”. They attribute her speedy physical recovery to her exceptional overall pre-accident fitness. Her neck injury was the most critical of her physical injuries and her doctors reported that the bone fractures at the base of her skull were are hardly visible in the most recent MRI.
Lauren attends physical therapy classes daily as well as occupational and speech therapy. The doctors and therapists all report that she is doing very well in their sessions.
Regarding Lauren’s brain injury, her lead doctor (Dr. Alan Weintraub) said that Lauren was progressing “as expected”. Her post-accident amnesia is clearing up a little more each day. Her memories are coming back to her at a surprising level (in her Dad’s words). Dr. Weintraub stated that her cognitive sense is her main issue at this time and that her healing will happen over time. The length of time will be is unable to be specified at this stage. Her doctor does expect to see marked improvement over the next several months. To be completely clear, this is going to be a long road of recovery for Lauren. There is no quick fix to this. The doctors had stated that they are optimistic for a full recovery but they can’t say when nor can they guarantee anything at this time.
Overall, the prognosis is positive.
The family wants to thank everyone for all of your support, thoughts, and prayers for Lauren. This will be a long road.. She is going to need the support from those who love her.
I just read your last update. I am so happy for you. All TBI's are different and I think your's was more challenging than mine. But you've been so diligent about your effort to recover and it show's in the tremendous progress you've made.
Lauren, reading your update has been heartwarming. Yes, life does change after suffering a tbi but yours has changed in so many positive ways. I'm about 18 months out from my own tbi and I no longer use it as an excuse. In fact I rarely even think about it anymore. I suspect the same will happen to you. You are the only tbi victim whose recovery I've followed. I am so happy to hear of your current recovery status!
So glad to hear you are doing better. I'm sure you don't remember me, we met only once. I'm Craig Randall'S grandmother. I know how worried he has been and I have prayed for you since day one, and will continue to do so till you are as good as new!
Lauren, I hope you get to watch the women's Olympic road race today. Personally it was a while after my TBI before I could watch a bike race on TV. Too difficult to follow and lack of interest. But then I wasn't a racer.
Great to here the progress your making Lauren, your awesome and you have even awesomer friends !!!!
Lauren, Thanks for Update 6. Sounds like your progress is what should be expected. I'm glad to hear that you're back on your bike. I started on a trike and am now on my Tommasini road bike. Oftentimes the times I was pedaling were the only times I felt normal. I've not really experienced the depression so many TBI survivors speak of. I think my daily bicycle rides have made the difference. Hang in there. It's still a long road but attitude can make all the difference.
Roren;) It is so good to read your words and thoughts. I was there and I continue my prayers for you and your family. You belong to a special group - Team VDNA. True that Beth Ann was a Godsend that day, so lucky to have her there. I want to mention two people who I met that day that helped me get to know you, though we have not met (which I hope to someday) - Brie and Mia. Brie was literally sick over what happened to you. I consoled her the best I could but she has such strong feelings for you that she was in agony - she cares very deeply about you. All of your teammates that day were in shock and were so scared for you (as was I). It was quite obvious that they all needed someone to help them get through that time too, because they care about you. There was Mia, going from one teammate to another asking if they we ok, if they needed water and telling them that you were going to be ok. She was such a help to your team keeping them as calm and positive as one could in such circumstances. Since then I have spoken with Tyson and a few others and I am so impressed with the quality of character of your team. As I said, you are part of a very special group. I will keep you in my prayers and continue to spread the word. Be well. Go Wolfpack!
I hope that in Lauren's case "no news is good news". I check daily for updates or news. Having just celebrated the one year anniversary of my own TBI, I realize how slowly news comes. I wish Lauren all the luck! BTW my ability to ride my bike has returned prior to my ability to walk properly!
This is great news! There is no place like home especially when you are not well. So happy to hear that the Wolfpack are all back in the den. Lauren, you and your family are in my prayers. Keep up the good work!
Lauren I am so happy to hear how well you are doing. Continuing to pray for your full recovery.
Lauren, I am a brain injury survivor and avid cyclist. Although my cycling came after my brain injury, I reclaimed my life on a Catrike700 recumbent trike. I crossed the entire nation. If you had asked me when I was in the hospital going through pt, ot and speech, learning to walk and talk again, I would have never guessed it was possible again to redefine my possible. You are in the best hands possible at Craig Hospital. Please know that there is an entire community out there of survivors who are not only inspired by you but would offer a sense of community to you when you are ready to both you and your family. - Catherine www.hopefortrauma.org
Lauren is making great progress and I am so encouraged by it. The family is still well short of their funding goal, which I think is quite modest. I have posted requests on my facebook page and on Strava in the several clubs I've joined, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Keep up the good work Lauren!!!