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Amy Van Dyken-Rouen: There was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it

Jun 18, 2014, 3:13 PM EDT

Olympic champion swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen was set to fly from a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital to one in Englewood, Colo., on Wednesday, 12 days after she severed her spine in an all-terrain vehicle accident.

Van Dyken-Rouen, who won six golds over the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, was in good spirits in a video from her hospital bed shared on TODAY on Wednesday.

“I just wanted to thank you guys and everyone who watches the TODAY show for all of your support, all of your prayers and positive vibes,” she said. “It’s definitely helping.”

Van Dyken-Rouen talked further, tearing up and explaining the extreme risk before her surgery less than two weeks ago, according to USA Today.

“[The neurosurgeon] told [husband] Tom and I to say our goodbyes,” she said, according to the newspaper. “There was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it out of surgery. It was one of those things where I looked at my husband and basically said, ‘I love you, goodbye, please continue on with your life.’ I allow you to date, which was hard to say. To do that and then to be here now and to be with him is the most amazing thing.”

Van Dyken-Rouen has paralysis in her legs and broken ribs, in addition to the severed spine, according to the report.

“I’m excited to get to this new part of my life,” Van Dyken-Rouen said. “It’s almost like a rebirth. I get to learn how to do everything all over again. I’m anxious to do that. It’s time to start so I can get back to Arizona and start my new life, I guess.”

Van Dyken-Rouen has provided updates over the last week on Twitter and Instagram.

“I will see you later,” she said, smiling. “Wheels up!”

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