Pain Doesnt Last Forever
Dr. Grace Dammann, a revered physician, was honored by the Dalai Lama for her extraordinary work with AIDS patients during the height of the epidemic. Her life was shattered in May 2008 by a catastrophic head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. After 48 days in a coma and multiple surgeries for broken bones and injured organs, doctors were amazed when Grace miraculously awoke with her cognitive abilities intact. Yet once the thrill and euphoria of survival had passed, the hard, painful work of rehabilitation and caregiving began for Grace, her partner Fu Schroeder, and an extraordinary community of friends and colleagues.Grace credits her Zen Buddhist practice for her ability to keep moving forward: “Nothing lasts forever, even great pain and sorrow.” Though some of her ultimate goals–to walk again, to dance again, to surf again–remain unattainable, Grace sets, meets, and exceeds new ones. Acknowledging that she only felt completely whole when practicing medicine, she “comes out” as a disabled person to the medical community, returning to Laguna Honda Hospital as its first physician who uses a wheelchair, where she is appointed Medical Director of the Pain Clinic. She resumed the caregiver role, but with an intimate knowledge of the experience of pain, suffering, and disability.This past year, ExtendaTouch entered the Toyota Million Dollar Mobility Contest, partnering with Northeastern University to produce a semi-autonomous wheelchair prototype, capable of getting individuals to work or shopping and back home safely using public transportation. Grace was the standard bearer for our entry, and we actually placed. And the best news of all, Grace has started retaking her first steps. We’re proud to have befriended Grace and feature her on this post.