Reshod Customer Spotlight

Coach Carmen®️ loves to hear the backstories of her customers and this one is incredible.  It will make you appreciate something you probably take for granted: your cognitive health.  When Kelly first reached out to Reshod®️ Walking Shoes for a pair of customized shoes, Coach Carmen®️ hesitated because she hadn’t tested them on walkers prone to seizers.   Kelly, however, was determined to give them a try and said that they actually help prevent tripping.  She bought her first pair of Reshod®️ Walking Shoes in 2013, when customers sent in their current athletic shoes so they could be customized with the patented midsole.  Kelly recently ordered her TENTH pair, saying, “I [originally] purchased the pair of shoes because I did a search of racewalking shoes and yours came up first. I totally forgot my history with you. I am going to be active until I can’t move. I used to race my bike and the year I had my wreck, I was #2 in the state, road. My neurologist visited me in the hospital and said, no bikes, if you fall you die. …. So, [I] started trail running, loved it and planned to race, but I had my right hip replaced and started race walking because I was told not to run.” 

Here is her story:

“My name is Kelly Cruser, and here is my story.

I’ve got to start by telling you a few things. This is Rondeau, he alerts me before I have an epileptic seizure. He was never trained. I told my neurologist that he went nuts before I had a seizure and he immediately wrote me a prescription for a service dog. I have epilepsy because of a moderate to severe brain injury. I control it with 225 milligrams of Lamotragine twice a day.

Rondeau is a Portuguese Water Dog. I’ll never get another breed. He is undoubtedly the most intelligent, intuitive, and affectionate non-human I’ve ever learned about. He might break away to connect with everyone, he’s done this before.

Okay, I’m a sixteen year old. I had a bike wreck and that stole everything I knew before that day. The last 16 year have really been wonderful though. It is amazing that it took that tragedy to make me realize what I had.

I was blessed to have enrolled in a disability insurance policy, did that because I dated a guy who sold these things. He said I had to because I raced my bike. I really thought I’d never have to use it and complained to my mom about the cost of this unnecessary thing a week before it came into effect. I gives me enough money each month to simply concentrated on getting better and having a beautiful life.

Each year 1.7 million Americans are hospitalized because of a traumatic brain injury, but I’ve seen less than 10 these last 16 years. They are likely unable to interact with the world easily. Maybe they are homeless. And those who were counted are only those who ended up in a hospital. Many others simply struggle alone after a car wreck, bad fall, or some other incident. I just read the New York Times and found out that the incidence of bike wrecks ending up with a traumatic brain injury has increased by 10% since 1991.

Let’s begin. I spent 11 years in universities. I got a BS in Zoology at UC Davis, a dental degree at UC San Francisco, I really loved those four years! Then I spent three years at the University of Michigan getting my orthodontics degree and a Masters of Science.

In 2005 I had a great orthodontic practice in Medford. Yep, I’m Dr. Cruser, it almost makes me cry to say that. I had a great family of 5 wonderful women who worked with me. I had a beautiful building and painted the ceiling in the patient treatment room with clouds so they had something great to see if they waited at all. I had simply beautiful patients, hundreds of them. We’d laugh together, sometimes cry. When we began treatment I invited them to join me in creating a beautiful smile that they would always have, and they showed up. I traveled presenting cases and was invited to start the first steps to join the most exclusive clinical society in the US, the Angle Society. I was not able to complete the process, however.

I road a bike for a number of years and in 2000 I decided to race. I joined a team and showed up for my first Saturday training ride in January, I rode all year. I met Rich that day, his first time as well. Because we were newbies we had to ride in the back of the pack and eat road slurry for hours until we proved ourselves. We got to know each other and started training together, 150-200 miles each week. We raced as well and were successful, it was like a second full-time job. In 2005 I was second in the state, women’s masters, I was 43, I won the Mt Ashland hill climb twice, that’s 4,900 feet up. Ya should’a seen my quads! 

Rich and I named our favorite training rides. We had one we called The Weimer Death March. It is 120 miles, 5,400 feet of climbing, ugly and you go through the little town of Weimer, which has no grocery store. The last 14 miles or so there always is an incredible headwind, so we team up, one in front breaking the wind the other behind taking a break. We did that on a Saturday. On Sunday Rich wanted to do Mt Ashland, on the back side with mountain bikes. I got up about halfway and had to stop, I was blasted from Weimer. Rich was ahead, he turned back and said “Let’s go back”. I said no, I just wanted to recover for a short time. Time went by as we sat and he said to go back home again. I resisted and then  he said “all right, stay there.” He went to his bike, unzipped the bag under his seat, pulled out a black box, came to kneel before me, opened the box to reveal a ring and proposed. We went down, my brain spinning, smiling.

We started talking about the wedding and I went and got him his wedding present from me, a custom made racing bike, a Landshark. I had two. They are above anything else, light and incredibly responsive. I presented it to him on Saturday, April 2, 2005. And we went on his “blessing ride”, his first go. I actually remember stopping early to deal in his gearing.

We did about 50 miles, nice and light, no climbing. We came back into the valley and were on Arnold lane. I actually remember seeing a white pickup truck at the end of the road far ahead of us coming toward us.

I challenged Rich to a sprint. We were always doing that between road signs. We commonly got up to 45 miles an hour. That was a great way to train to race. Well, I was ahead …. and I went down. Rich was behind me and said my front wheel turned and I went down on my right hip, whiplashing my head onto the pavement.

The white truck stopped and the woman called 911. I made it to the ER and was in a coma for 11 hours. Rich waited. He really thought I was gone when a priest was the first person to come out of the treatment room, he came out twice. Then a doctor came out to tell him he was going to drill a hole in my scull because of my bleeding. When I awoke I could not speak and was completely paralyzed on my left side. I struck the right side of my brain. I was told that I destroyed 40% of it. Rich did not leave for 18 hours, when he was told to go. He never left my side, still has not.

I was placed in ICU at Rogue Regional Medical Center for five days. Rich came to visit me. I was able to speak and recognized him. He said to me that I had tubes coming from every opening and vein. I asked him what happened, and he said I had a wreck. I said, “What’s next?” He says now that he knew everything would be alright after I said that. After 5 days in Intensive Care I was transported to Providence in a wheelchair to third floor west. I was in rehab for 10 weeks. I only remember the last week when I stood out of my wheelchair. Rich visited me every day and said I was never in my room, always walking around the hall practicing everything my therapists taught me. Okay, Rich and I met with the doctor who was responsible for my progress. He told us both that he could get me to the place where I could push a broom. I was stunned and Rich and I knew that was an absurd thing to say. I walked and practiced, walked and practiced.

People came to visit me but I did not know who they were. I only knew Rich, my mom and sister. I’m part of a wonderful group of women, we call each other The Wonder Women. Once a month someone has us over for dinner and makes the main course, the rest of us bring sides or a dessert. We had been doing that for 15 years. They all came twice, but was without an idea of who they were or why they came. Others came with the same result, telling me after how stunned I was.

My husband Rich had a meeting with the man who was in charge of my therapies, my progress. He told Rich that they could probably get me to push a broom. He had NO IDEA who he was talking about!

My neurologist, Walter Carlini, visited me once and told me I lost 40 percent of my brain: right frontal lobe contusion with a hemmorhagic component. Then he said “No more bikes, if you fall, you die.” He paused and said again “No more bikes, if you fall, you die”, pause then yelling “IF YOU FALL YOU DIE!!!” He then ran out of my room. He is a wonderful, brilliant, and very loving doctor, I’ve got some wonderful stories.

Then I graduated from the hospital. I could sort of walk, sort of talk. Rich drove me home and I did not recognize what I saw driving through Medford, along I-5 and the landscape, or the cities, not even Ashland. I did not recognize the street we lived on, our house, or anything in it. We went through the kitchen and Rich opened all the drawers and cabinets and I had to ask him what everything was. I had 119 cook books then, cooking dominated a huge part of my life as it does now, but I lost it for a while.

Now I ride my bike in my garage. I have an active smart trainer which communicates with my iPad. On that I have an app called Zwift. When I ride I see a cartoon of myself and other riders, I can race up and pass someone, they pass me too. It’s outside and when I go up a route I am told the percentage of incline and the feet I’ve climbed. Each route is different and some are really hard. I get between 1,926 and 2,300 feet of climbing each day that I ride. It makes up for a bit that I’ve lost, but it will never replace being a saber through the land.

I did not recognize anyone but Rich and my Mom and sis. As I got around Ashland people came up to me to say Hi and I did a lot of smiling and nodding. I did not even recognize myself in the mirror. I had to wave my arms around and make faces to realize what I was seeing was me. I did that every day for some time.

One day, after Rich left for work I went out the front door to check things out, and look around.  I had not done that by myself yet. Well, I got halfway down the driveway and could not remember where I lived. I knew that I shouldn’t walk farther because I could get lost with no communication. I was smart enough to realize that. I had to pee of course, looked around in a panic. There are tall bushes on one side of the driveway. So, I moved a little toward the bushes, looked at where I was standing, moved and looked, moved and looked. Dropped trousers and got exactly back up. I was very proud. I stayed there all day. Well, Rich came home and found me there waiting, smiling. I was not allowed to go outside for a good while by myself. But being home was wonderful, in spite of the fact that I had to go up and down the stairs on my bum.

Every evening I made a list of things to do the next day. That worked, except when I got in the car and drove out of the garage I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to go. So, I made two lists, one for the kitchen, one for my car. I only make one list now, still have to.

When I got good driving I went to Portland to hang out, love that place. I hung out in the Pearl District commonly. One time I forgot where I parked my car and had to hail a taxi. Great guy drove me around, me in the front, until we found it. I started writing where I parked in my iPhone, still do.

I sold my orthodontic practice. I could not and still cannot practice orthodontics. I truly miss that, truly, for many reasons. I still run into parents and patients, and it is a true celebration. It is so important to me that I did good work and made great friends along the way.

I’ve been a member of Providence’s Neuro Rehab Support Group since I got out of the hospital. We meet each month. When I first started, all I could do for the entire meeting is cry. That went on for a few months, then I was completely quiet. It became one of the most important things I could do. I brought in new information, research, support, treatment, and discoveries. There are about 50 of us, nearly everyone is a stroke survivor. I am usually the only TBI survivor there. There is one man like me, but he comes only occasionally, really upbeat.

When I got home from Providence, I really practiced walking, got that down, then started trail running. Every day I would tackle a mountainside. I loved seeing all the trees, birds, everything. Rich started running with me. One day we were up on a mountainside, and I fell with a grand mal seizure. Fortunately, a woman runner met up with us. She ran down and called 911. I was able to walk down with Rich’ help. Made it to the ER, was diagnosed, and then I was then banned from driving for 6 months. I walked to and from the COOP, about a mile and 300 feet away. I had a great little wheeled basket to carry food back home. I commonly came back with watermelons and cabbages. We once had five of them in the fridge. Then I regained my ability to drive.

Lots of things are different for me now, but I really have no complaints. The thing I think is the most important change is that my brain has really opened up. I experience things now I never could have imagined before.

Well, back to running, I started stopping at two special trees and talking to them, telling them that I loved them. They responded, gave me a powerful feeling. They both loved where they were but were concerned about the warming around them. I started stopping at a particular place every day, just to look. Then I started crying there, not long, did not know why. One day I cried for a long time. Even though I knew my brain was getting better I felt too exhausted to continue. I knew I had a gun, and I was going to find it and end it all. I could not stop crying and started to slowly roll down the mountainside. Then my dad showed up, he committed suicide the year before. He leaned really close, nose almost touched mine and said, “I know”. He saved my life, gave me power and now I’m speaking to you. There is a high rate of suicide with Traumatic Brain Injury. The latest data indicate that 23% of survivors think of suicide, 17% attempt it. That is more than twice the chance for a non-traumatized individual.

We have an extensive back yard, so very many different beautiful plants. I’ll hold a leaf or a branch and say that I love it. I really feel something coming back. There is a little rose which was really struggling and it pulled me near.

Rondeau waltzes with trees and bushes, sticking his nose in and out and swaying back and forth, for several minutes. I think he speaks to these special ones.

I had to put Silvi, my Hungarian sheepdog down one day. I had her for 15 wonderful years. Three days later I went to a women’s retreat, and she showed up three times. She lay next to me as I sat in a circle twice. Then when we were in a big room dancing around, she showed up, looked around, then sat and stared at me. I got down on hands and knees and told her how much I missed and loved her.

My neighbor developed cancer and passed. She was completely wonderful and had the MOST beautiful smile. Three times, when I drove into our driveway, she was right next door, gardening. Then one day she showed up on the passenger seat of my car, just giving me her glorious smile.

A great friend passed. As I drove to her “Celebration of Life” service she appeared on the passenger seat and said “Now it will be complete.

I have a new, rich life, and I really cannot think of a thing to complain about. Rich and I got married two years after my wreck and he still is my favorite human being. We are always laughing! I am still an athlete. I ride my bike as I said before. I wanted to race trail running, but I had to have my right hip replaced and now cannot run. I now Racewalk. Check out Olympic racewalkers, do a google search, they really look like sprinters. Depending on the weather I racewalk 4 or 5 miles a day. Do the bike when it’s not nice outside. Before COVID, and pool closure I swam a mile every day. That’s 36 laps out and back and 72 flip turns. It is meditation.

As soon as I could, I got online and researched articles, read medical journals about brain injury and recovery. There is research which describes the best way to recover from a TBI is to learn to do an activity where one circumnavigates in three dimensions in a curvilinear fashion. The best way to do this is swim, though ballroom dancing is good too. I swam for 9 years. I mean, can you tell I lost 40% of my brain?

And…..Je tude Francais, mais je parle soulement un petit puh maintenant. That means I study French but I only speak a little bit now. I hope to become fluent.

There are non-exercise things which improve brain function and are fun. Online there is Lumosity and Brain HQ. They certainly challenge you and they keep track of your performance so you can compare yourself to others doing the same thing.

I’m taking three neurologic supplements:

Alpha GPC – This is a choline which is included in acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.

MCT or Medium Chain Triglyceride – This is from coconut oil. It is converted to ketones, an energy source for the brain. The clinical trials showed improved brain function in Alzheimer’s patients within 20 minutes after taking it.

Magnesium L Threonate – This reverses neural degeneration. There is MIT research which has proven it.

Well, I recently experienced a regression with my paralysis. I started falling when getting out of my car, and just walking. I told Carlini and he sent me to a neurologic physical therapist. She gave me a big bunch of exercises to do to retrain my brain. She gave me back my left leg!!

I am now a Master Gardener, took all the classes. I so love plants. I love walking on our property each day and see something completely new, not there the day before. To prepare the soil to receive seeds. To plan beforehand where to plant or grow using labeled diagrams of garden plots. To see the beginning shoots of brand new child vegetables. To build trellises upon which to grow beans, peas, squash. To add bands of twine at intervals to allow the plants to climb up. Every day seeing where everything had progressed during the night after a day of sun. To encase the heavy squash in segments of nylon and tie up, to place fine net bags on grape clusters to save them from birds. To rid the property of weeds, to deadhead, to prune, to transplant. To relish the flavors of berries, Asian pears, sugar snap peas, and other vegetables. To walk around in the sun admiring all the green, to rub a leaf between one’s fingers and inhale it in. Okay, have an addiction issue. Plants are like heroin. I say we don’t have room, I’ve got to stop, but then I see something truly inspiring and think it wouldn’t take up too much room, then another, then another.

I’ve rediscovered my passion for cooking and love for my cookbooks, have 157 now and I’m always reading them, plotting. I make a truly delicious cheese souffle.

I want all the people of this world to really see one another, to see themselves in everyone else and to see the beauty in the struggles, triumphs, defeats, realizations, and moments of peace.

I want every animal to be completely free of any mistreatment, be it a pet or veal calf. I want every single person to be able to really walk free to accomplish the best thing that they can. I want every person affected by some injury or illness to be able to enter into the unknown, to experience incremental changes, and, though there will be setbacks, that each one progresses further than they thought possible.

I wish for this planet to be filled with the peaceful, the learned, the compassionate, the smiling.

I wish for each of you to accomplish more than you ever thought to be possible and to be strong and happy.”

Thank you Kelly, for your wonderful story.  Happy Birthday, too.  We wish you many more!