'So thankful to be alive,' Amy Van Dyken heads home to Colo. for rehab

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by Catherine Holland and The Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 23 at 9:50 AM

PHOENIX -- Olympic swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is transferring to a Colorado hospital to continue rehabilitation from injuries she suffered in an all-terrain vehicle accident two weeks ago.

Before leaving, she addressed the public for the first time since the devastating accident.

Van Dyken-Rouen said she does not remember much about the accident.

"I'm very glad that she doesn't have that memory," her husband, former Broncos punter Tom Rouen,"

One thing Van Dyken-Rouen does remember is doctors telling her and her husband to say their goodbyes  before they took her into a surgery that would last six hours.

"I looked at my husband and basically said, 'I love you. Goodbye. Please continue on with your life.'" she explained Wednesday morning. "We said our goodbyes. To do that and to be here now, to be with him is the most amazing thing."

Tearful at times, Van Dyken-Rouen said she appreciated the outpouring of support she has received and is looking forward to tackling this new phase in her life.

Van Dyken-Rouen said looking at what happened helps her stay positive about the challenges ahead.

"When my husband found me -- and I don't remember -- I was face down, not breathing," she said. "There was a good chance I wasn't going to make it out of surgery."

"I'm actually feeling really good, which is surprising," she said. "Yes, this injury sucks. And yes, things hurt. But I'm alive, and I'm so thankful to be alive," she said fighting back tears. "That's why I can be positive about it."

Rouen said has been upbeat and they both remain hopeful about what her life holds.

"Because she was so close to passing away, twice really, that I think she's just very, very happy to be alive and to be able to face whatever challenges come ahead," he said.

Van Dyken-Rouen, 41, will take a medical flight from Scottsdale to Denver on Wednesday so she can rehab at Craig Hospital, which specializes in spine injuries.

The six-time gold medalist severed her spinal cord and broke several ribs in the June 6 ATV crash near Show Low.

Van Dyken-Rouen is active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and has posted several times from the hospital. She said she plans to keep doing that as she goes through rehab.

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