How this website began...the significance of the "Thousand Paper Cranes".
The following was written by Nicole's cousin, Michael Wood (creator of this website), shortly after her "incident" in November, 2004. Its purpose was to enlist the aid of friends, family and associates in encouraging Nicole's rehabilitation by way of the creation of paper cranes (origami) which were sent to the rehab center in Boston where Nicole underwent six months of rehabilitation. His goal was to have 1,000 paper cranes sent to her hospital room. She received over 5,000....some from as far away as Switzerland and South America. Much has changed since those early days, so please visit this website often to follow Nicole's progress.
Crane art from original batik design by artist Chris Taylor (www.cataylor.com)
Nicole & Randy, April 2003
November 29, 2004
1,000 paper cranes for Nicole.
Japanese folklore says that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes you will be blessed with good health. This lore was resurrected in the plight of a young Japanese girl, Sadako, who was struck with leukemia in her teens as a result of the lingering effects of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Sadako’s struggle and the help of her classmates to tell her story, was published in the popular book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, by Eleanor Coerr in 1977.
After I read about Sadako a few years ago, I began folding paper cranes to aid in my own recovery, and as a way to pray and meditate. While I lost count of the number of cranes I created, I continue to this day to make progress with both.
Today, there is someone else who needs our assistance in folding a 1,000 paper cranes. Her name is Nicole and she is my cousin and god-daughter.
Nicole was brought into this world 28 years ago on July 25th, not by my Aunt Michele, but by her courageous birth mother, unknown to any of us, who was unable to keep Nicole. My Aunt Michele, who is also my god-mother, and my Uncle Nick, had been waiting patiently for years for the phone call that would announce that they had been blessed with a child. Nicole grew up always knowing that she was adopted, but never needing any re-assurance that she was much loved. If anything, I think she got a few extra perks out of itJ
Nicole grew up a friendly and easy-going young woman. Her adult life has taken her to Boston, Massachusetts where she completed her Master’s degree and works as a registered dietician. Last year, our family gathered together on Long Island to celebrate her wedding to Randy, and just two months ago, Nicole and her new husband spent a brisk September weekend at the beach with family celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.
On November 7th, while shopping with her girlfriends, Nicole began not feeling well. Numbness began to develop in her arm, she quickly realized that something was wrong and Randy was called to pick her up. He later drove her to the local emergency department after she lost feeling in her left arm and leg. Before the day’s end, Nicole was completely paralyzed below her neck and was placed on a ventilator at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.
Hours and days went by; doctors and nurses came and went, and test after test revealed disorders that could only be ruled out. With her husband and family in shock and constantly by her side, Nicole could only blink her eyes in response to their questions. Based only on her symptoms, she was diagnosed with Anterior Spinal Syndrome. Following one last and risky test performed by an exceptional medical team, it was revealed that Nicole had indeed suffered an anterior spinal stroke or infarct at the third cervical vertebral level of her spinal cord. Somehow, some of the gel-like material from one of Nicole’s inter-vertebral disc’s entered her blood stream and lodged in the delicate network of arteries that brings vital oxygen to that area of the spine, causing a blockage and subsequent stroke.
In the past few weeks, Nicole has made some progress and has regained some sensation in her arms and legs, although she still can not breathe on her own and can perform only slight movements of her head. Her family and friends have poured through the intensive care unit, all offering words of encouragement and love. This, I believe, has given Nicole a remarkable outlook on her situation and a strong determination to get well. The day before Thanksgiving she was transferred from the intensive care unit to a reputable rehabilitation facility where she will begin her physical and respiratory therapy. While the doctors can not tell us exactly what to expect, Nicole is ready to give it her all.
Hopefully, one day soon, Nicole will be able to fold her own cranes. Meanwhile, we need to help her get started. Please help me help Nicole by folding at least 1,000 paper cranes, like Sadako’s classmates did for her.
I believe in the power of collective consciousness. I believe we can help Nicole and others stricken suddenly by other events such as this. At this time of year when we are giving thanks, let us remember others less fortunate than ourselves, especially those still living with the after effects of war or atomic bombs, such as in Hiroshima and those people who are close to us.
Please visit www.nicolegregory.com to find out how to fold a paper crane and where to mail or drop off your cranes. The website also contains information on Sadako’s story, as well as a link to the Christopher Reeve foundation and one being set up for Nicole. If you do not have web access, call me at Nesbit Salon and I can fax or mail you a crane-folding instruction sheet. I would love to send Nicole at least 1,000 cranes before the New Year to encourage her in her recovery.
Thank you for spreading the word about Nicole and involving others in this effort.