CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Christopher Reeve, Dana Reeve
Aired September 23, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, in her first interview since a not guilty of child battery plea was entered for her today in an Indiana court, Madelyne Gorman Toogood, the woman caught on tape beating her 4-year-old daughter in a parking lot. She says she was horrified when she saw the tape, and that there's no excuse in the world why she did it, and that she's learned her lesson. Should she get her daughter back?
And then, real-life Superman, Christopher Reeve, and his wife Dana. He's made medical history, remaining movement in his hands and feet seven years after a fall off a horse left him paralyzed from the neck down. They'll tell their inspiring story of love, faith and the human touch, and they'll take your calls, too. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We start in Chicago with Madelyne Gorman Toogood, the mother charged with felony battery in beating her 4-year-old daughter. The incident occurred, of course, on surveillance videotape and has been seen, I guess, all over the world. And her attorney, Steven Rocket Rosen.
Rocket, will you first explain to us why the judge entered a not guilty plea in Indiana?
ROCKET ROSEN, ATTORNEY: That was a formality, Larry. We entered a not guilty plea. There hasn't been any discovery or investigation, and that's something you do in the criminal courtrooms on your first appearance. It was just a formality.
KING: Madelyne, what are you pleading not guilty to since you've already said that you did hit your daughter and we've already seen it?
MADELYNE GORMAN TOOGOOD: I just took my lawyer's advice and I just let him handle that part.
KING: So you are saying you did that for which we saw you do?
TOOGOOD: Am I?
KING: All right, Rocket, what's the reason for a not guilty plea?
ROSEN: Well, again, we will wait until the proper time to negotiate with the prosecution, receive all our discovery, investigate all our discovery. They've done some lab tests on the car, the inside of the car. So it's just a matter of waiting and waiting until the prosecutor gets their evidence together and then start negotiations and start talking about what we're going to do with this case
KING: Madelyne, the obvious, why did you hit your child that way?
TOOGOOD: I lost my temper, and there was -- as I have said over and over again, there was no excuse for me hitting her that way, because there -- nobody has the right to hit anybody that way, and there is no excuse for it. And I don't know why I did it.
KING: Had you done that before?
TOOGOOD: No, I haven't.
KING: Had you done that to other children?
TOOGOOD: Oh, no. Never. I have never done it to anybody before.
KING: So what do you make of it to yourself? When you go to sleep at night, and you question yourself, what do you make of it? What do you say when you say, why did I do that?
TOOGOOD: Make of it? Really...
KING: In other words, you never struck a child. You lost your temper in the store, right? You were having a tough time in the store?
TOOGOOD: Yeah. I really haven't questioned -- I know -- I know I lost it. And I really haven't questioned that part because I have been so focused just to, you know, why won't they -- I don't know why.
KING: All right, during those days everyone was looking for you, there were five or six days in there, where were you?
TOOGOOD: I -- soon as they -- soon as they arrested my sister -- they never arrested her. They held her for four days, but they brought her in for questioning and then they never released her that night, the next day I went to my parents, and that was before it even, you know, hit as big as it is right now. And from then, I went to -- when it did then -- it hit the local media, I went to a lawyer. I called a lawyer that somebody gave me the phone number to. He in return gave me a number to a doctor, and I went up there and had my little girl seen by a doctor and had her pictures taken. And I had videos of her taken, because I wanted an biased opinion and I wanted to show that there was nothing in the world wrong with Martha.
KING: Where did you, Madelyne, first see the video?
TOOGOOD: I didn't see it until a couple of days after it was released. And when I did, it was on the way to the doctor in Baytown (ph), New Jersey.
KING: Now, you would agree just from looking at that video, it looks terrible?
TOOGOOD: Yeah, it looks terrible.
KING: And she suffered no bad bodily damage from that?
TOOGOOD: No. She suffered no bodily damage at all from that. Not as much as -- not as much as a slap mark. Like, a bruise. She had nothing on her at all. Not only did she see the doctor in Baytown (ph), New Jersey, she has seen -- she came back and seen this doctor in South Bend, Indiana. There was nothing at all on her.
As a matter of fact, they went halfway through the doctor's appointment, he turned around to my husband and said, as far as I'm concerned, this is over with and there's no signs of child abuse present or ever before. And they made him continue do X-rays and CAT scans, and he didn't -- he said, as far as I'm concerned, this is over. And he actually -- they had to get another doctor to give her a CAT scan, because they wanted to sedate her. And he said, if you want to sedate this child, my professional opinion, she's fine and I will not sedate her to get a CAT scan. And he threw his hands up in the air.
KING: In other words, he was saying she was all right?
TOOGOOD: Yes. He threw his hands up and walked away.
KING: Rocket, is that part of plea bargaining, if they're going to claim there was damage, you introduce the fact that a doctor said there wasn't?
ROSEN: Not really. I think our plea bargaining is going to go to the greatest resource I have, Larry, and that's Madelyne Toogood. This is a young lady that for 25 seconds of her life I want to dislodge, I want the prosecution, the judge, the American public to see that this lady was raised as a great kid, has been a great mother. Has a lot of happiness to her, joy. I have spent four days with this family. They have flown in. They have driven in. They have come in buses and trains to be by her side.
And what I want to point out to the prosecution and to the American public that there's good in this young lady. And she's about good. And what else do I have to use but who she is and what she is and what she's going to be? And I think with the proper structure and proper education and the parenting classes and the coping classes and an assessment, that she will prove that she will continue to be a great mother. And she'll get that child back.
KING: Rocket, I'm running on a time problem here, and I got Christopher Reeve right behind me. I was wondering, if we had our producers talk to you, if we could arrange for a time where I could spend more time talking with you and Madelyne together to learn more about her, this woman who has become famous through everyone watching this scene. So if our people talk to you, we'll work out arranging that, OK?
ROSEN: That's excellent. KING: And Madelyne, can you tell me the last time you saw your daughter?
TOOGOOD: When she's left with the CPS worker. And I thought she was -- I never questioned that she was going to go. I thought she was coming back.
KING: So you didn't know they were taking her away?
TOOGOOD: No. I really never thought they would. I thought they would let her go with my husband, because I offered to legally separate so he could take her, and that's what he wanted to do.
KING: All right, thank you both very much, and you'll be seeing Madelyne again on LARRY KING LIVE, as we learn more about a woman and her very, very unusual story, to say the least.
We want to spend a couple minutes with Chris Toth. He's the prosecutor of St. Joseph's County in South Bend, Indiana.
The mitigating -- the fact that they're going to show you that this girl was not harmed that badly, that there was no sedation, that a doctor you're going to see X-rays and the like, doesn't that lead to a chance of some sort of settlement here, Chris, without trial?
CHRIS TOTH, ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Well, the main issue here, Larry, was the act itself. We'll be reviewing the medical evidence. And obviously that will weigh into what we do from here. It continues to be a pending investigation.
But our main concern is what happened to little Martha. The video itself was shocking to the conscience. I think it was gut wrenching for all of us to look at that. And that is the main issue here, what happened to that little girl there. It was not a normal act. It was an act of great anger, great violence. And we have to make sure that, first of all, little Martha is safe, and secondly we do the right thing as prosecutors.
KING: What do you make, Chris, of what she just said? Never happened before, never happened with another child? Just lost it.
TOTH: Well, I hope that's true. We will find out more about that as this investigation continues. I have a great concern when an act like that is committed in public, what may be happening in private. But we'll find out more about that as the investigation continues, and our main focus will be to insure that this never happens to little Martha Toogood again.
KING: At its worst, Chris, what type of crime is this?
TOTH: Martha -- or, rather, Madelyne was charged with a felony count of battery to a child. That's the count as it stands right now.
KING: And that can get how much jail time in Indiana?
TOTH: Oh, I'm sorry. That's up to three years, Larry. KING: So she could do, if convicted of that, what you have charged her with, up to three years in prison?
TOTH: That's the law in the state of Indiana, yes.
KING: Would she also lose her child?
TOTH: That's part of this. But keep in mind that the main focus in a case like this has to be the best interest of that little girl. And there's a lot of factors that enter into that. There's a lot of factors that will be entering into Child Protective Services investigation.
But we're here to stand up for that little girl. The reason that disturbed us so much is here you have a 4-year-old girl who's completely vulnerable, who's completely defenseless, and myself as a prosecutor and the rest of the system has a moral obligation to stand up and speak for her.
KING: And of course, there's also a father.
TOTH: There is, yes.
KING: Thank you, Chris. We'll be calling on you again. Chris Toth, the prosecutor in St. Joseph County. He's coming to us -- he came to us from South Bend, Indiana. And again, we'll try to work out some time to have Madelyne come on, spend some more time with us and take some calls, maybe.
So we'll work on that immediately. And when we come back, Christopher Reeve and his wife, Dana. Don't go away fro this one. We'll be right back.
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Joining us now from New York, Christopher Reeve, actor, director, political activist, author of the new book "Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life." There you see its cover, focus of a recently broadcast terrific documentary, "Christopher Reeve: Courageous Steps," done by his eldest son, Matthew. With him is his lovely wife, a great gal, Dana. Dana is on the board of directors of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation which your husband chairs. The last time Chris was on this show as a guest was two years ago. He was on one year ago when the stem cell research decision was made. At that time he called in by phone to offer a critique of the Bush administration and their handling of that situation. He'll be 50 years old in two days. Happy birthday.
CHRISTOPHER REEVE: Thanks a lot, Larry. Thank you.
KING: Now, what's going on? I mean, you're moving parts -- what's going on?
C. REEVE: Well, it's about time. Only took me five years. What's been happening is that I have been doing a lot of exercise starting in rehab and going on day after day after day. And it turns out that exercise is able somehow to reawaken dormant pathways and get movement.
KING: But how do you explain it in this regard, Chris? I'm trying to picture it as a total layman, if the spine is cut off, how can the finger -- and the brain can't signal the finger, how can the finger move?
C. REEVE: OK. Where you're wrong is in the cut off part, because actually my spinal chord wasn't cut at all. It just has a hemorrhage in the middle of it at one point. And so there are a lot of nerve tracks that have been spared and lot that are reawakening because of exercise.
KING: And how much more can happen?
C. REEVE: Unlimited. We really don't know. And -- but we're sure going to find out. I'm going keep exercising because I think the cure is going to come from patients doing exercise to maintain health and prepare for science.
KING: So exercise is going to be a significant part of the cure?
C. REEVE: Yes. And actually now, there are activity-dependent recovery programs that are being developed all around the country just for that purpose.
KING: Dana, were you with Chris -- what was the first thing, Dana, that Chris moved? was it a finger or toe?
DANA REEVE: It was his finger. And, yes, we were there. We were having a conversation in our home. And every time he said something where one might gesture, use a hand gesture, his finger was popping up. And we both started to notice it. And then he said, I think I can make that happen on my own. And he did. He sort of literally commanded his finger to move and it did. And then it got to the point where he could just think it.
KING: So it was happening as a reflex action and then he made it happen.
D. REEVE: Well -- right, exactly.
KING: OK. There you see the tape. Let's see some actuality. Chris, we're going to try something here. There, we've got the hand. We've got our camera on your left hand with the wedding band. Let's put it back. Move the finger.
C. REEVE: ... in other words, to show that it's voluntary, you give me the instruction. You say go.
KING: OK. Christopher Reeve, I'm your director here tonight. Move your finger.
C. REEVE: Say go.
D. REEVE: There you go.
C. REEVE: Say stop.
C. REEVE: Say go.
D. REEVE: Who's directing who here?
KING: Stop. He's directing me. All right, now, explain what's happening, Chris. As I say, go, what are you doing?
C. REEVE: OK. What's happening is that just as normal, I hear you and my brain deciphers what you've said because I speak English, and then it goes down the spinal cord all the way to the seventh cervical vertebra, which is way below my injury. Then the message goes out to the peripheral nerves and all the way down to the finger and I get instantaneous reaction.
KING: Now I am told...
C. REEVE: And that's why -- sorry.
KING: I'm sorry, go ahead.
C. REEVE: And that's why we got so excited. See, that movement was so random, so unexpected. We figured anything else is possible.
KING: I'm told you can move the right wrist, fingers on the left hand. Now feel a light touch or a pinprick over the body. Can move arms and legs in a pool. Can breathe on your own for about an hour at a time.
C. REEVE: Hour-and-a-half. Somebody reported that I could wiggle my hips. Why would I want to do that? I did that when I was five.
KING: What does it feel like, Chris, when you're off the machine?
C. REEVE: It's great because I used to just gulp for air like a fish out of water. But now I'm able to sit very serenely and use my diaphragm. And listen to classical music and I just let the body happen. It's really been quite remarkable. It's really been exciting.
KING: Dana, what do you make of this? D. REEVE: Well, it -- somehow it doesn't surprise me that much. And I know that may sound odd because the predictions were dire. But there is nothing yet that anyone has ever said to Chris that he hasn't defied. When they say he can't do something, he makes it a point to actually go ahead and do it. And that's been across the board. He's someone who has defied predictions from the first day. So I'm thrilled. I'm so excited for him. And I think he's a great inspiration and motivator for so many people.
C. REEVE: But the main message, Larry, is it's really not just for me.
D. REEVE: Yes.
C. REEVE: I'm privileged. I have a staff. I have the equipment. But the one thing that I really hope comes out of this is that there's a paradigm shift in the way we look at what insurance should be doing to give people equipment so that they can accomplish the same thing that I have been able to accomplish. And that's really, really key. Otherwise it's just one individual.
KING: And how do you react, Chris, to those who say the reason you can do this is you have the wherewithal to spend the funds, to have the physicians, the equipment, your chair, the kind of people around you that the average person doesn't have?
C. REEVE: Frankly, everything that I can do can be done by a family at home. Well, even if you have a pool in your house, you could do the aqua therapy. But riding on a bike and using electrical stimulation of the muscles, the breathing off the hose, you can do that with your own family. And also you can do it at rehab centers as an outpatient.
The main thing that will make a difference is that insurance companies need to pick up this therapy and pay for it, because they will profit off of it. People like me will stay out of the hospital and people with lower level injuries will get up and get out of their chairs.
D. REEVE: We also, though, there's a bill, the Christopher Reeve bill is about to drop, we hope, in...
C. REEVE: It passed unanimously in both houses.
D. REEVE: Yes, and one of the things it will establish, a center of excellence in all 50 states. So if you can't afford or if insurance is still a snafu for your family, you can go somewhere where it has the exact same equipment that Chris has been using. He is not really Superman, and there is no real (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It's that he has tremendous motivation and hard work, and people pushing him. And if we can get those factors for others.
KING: Good line, Dana. I've got to get a break. As we go to break, and we'll be -- by the way, we're going to include phone calls for you at the bottom of the hour for Christopher Reeve and his wife, Dana. Here's a clip from Christopher Reeve, "Courageous Steps," the documentary done by his eldest son, Matthew. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. REEVE: He was explaining something, something like this, where you would normally gesture, and I was noticing that when he would do it, he would go -- his finger would move. And he said, I think I can make that happen. And I said, OK, yeah, right, make that happen. And he actually commanded his finger and said, "move," and it moved. And he would say "move" and it moved.
C. REEVE: And I built on that, and from that time it's expanded into a much larger range of movements and exercises that I have been able to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
C. REEVE: Nothing could have prepared me emotionally for what happened next in St. Louis. I just looked down at my feet and I willed my quadriceps and hamstrings to step forward. My legs remembered how to walk. And I stepped. And then the assistants nearly placed my feet on the pool bottom so I wouldn't twist an ankle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Wow. We're back with Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana. Now, Chris, this doesn't now lessen the need for more stem cell research, does it?
C. REEVE: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, there's been a really wonderful development in California just the other day. The state legislature has authorized a bill that would allow the state government to fund research on stem cells derived from any source. And that's a tremendous breakthrough. And I hope that it creates a grassroots movement across the country.
KING: Dana, I know it's discussed in the book, but when Christopher was on this show, one of the first times he was on, maybe the first time, he said one of the things he thought about doing when this first happened was killing himself.
D. REEVE: Early on.
KING: Did he relay that thought to you at that time, Dana?
D. REEVE: Early, early on, yes. Really right after he had regained consciousness in the hospital in Virginia. He talked about it. We discussed it, actually, as an option. And it was something that he -- I think everyone does this. You have these late night conversations with your loved ones or your friends and you say if such and such ever happens to me, I don't want to live. And that had been a discussion.
C. REEVE: But briefly. D. REEVE: What's that? Briefly. Well, it had been a brief one, but before the accident, just the idea of what you imagine you can withstand, and then the reality -- they're two different things.
KING: And he told me he stayed alive because of you. But you say in the book that you said, let's give it two years and if after two years you still want to kill yourself, I'll help you?
D. REEVE: Well, that was more of -- you call it a salesman tactic.
C. REEVE: Yeah, that's what a car salesman does.
D. REEVE: If you don't like it, you can return it.
C. REEVE: You try it, you don't like it, bring it back. It will be fine, we'll give you a refund.
D. REEVE: I figured that after...
C. REEVE: You know, two years, two years of living with this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and our dog and our house and our love and is like, no way.
KING: Christopher, what are your days like, though? There's less pausing when you speak now. I notice there's not a heavy breath. There's no longer those heavy intakes about every 10 or 15 seconds. Is life much better, or is it still a lot of terrible aspects?
C. REEVE: No. There are very few terrible aspects. And yeah. I have -- when we first talked, I could only, you know, sit up in the chair for about six hours at a time, because of the skin infections. Now it's 16 hours. And I don't have to be turned in bed every night. A lot of breakthroughs.
But you know one thing? I was seeing the tease, seeing the steps, you know, walking across the pool. I remember that I had said that I hoped to walk by my 50th birthday. Well, my 50th birthday is going to be on Wednesday. And technically speaking, now that I see that, I did it. It took 11 people to hold me up, but I think I actually made the deal. Will you give me credit for that?
KING: You made a promise on this program and you kept it.
C. REEVE: Thank you very much. Thank you.
D. REEVE: There you go.
KING: Speaking of keeping, what keeps you going, Dana?
D. REEVE: Well, Chris keeps me going. Our son Will keeps me going. There's not a lot -- life keeps me going. I'm basically a happy person. I don't need a lot of prompting to keep going.
KING: How did your son come up with the idea of doing a documentary, or was it your idea? C. REEVE: No, no. It was actually Matthew's idea. He's an art and art history and art theory student at Brown. And once the finger moved in September of 2000, and Dr. John McDonald (ph) at Washington University wanted to do a study, Matthew came to me and said, can I do a documentary? And I thought, yes, this is a way to help him start with the career he's interested in. Also, I wouldn't want a stranger following me around. That was really important.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that's changed in your life, Chris, and it comes as a surprise to me, because I remember including in my book, when I wrote a book some years back, "Powerful Prayers," asking you, and you said you were kind of an agnostic, you were certainly not a religious person. You didn't look to God. You didn't say please, God, help me get better. Has that changed?
C. REEVE: Well, believe it or not, in my book, "Nothing is Impossible," I have divided it into two chapters: the search for spirituality, one chapter is on faith. The other chapter is on religion. In a way they're kind of different for me. Because as a kid, religion seemed to be a bit scary, that somebody sort of -- you were kind of guilty while going into church. And it sort of sometimes made you feel bad. But over time, you know, I have actually become a Unitarian. And we embrace that because it's all inclusive and it's about the goodness in people. That God, you know, loves us and that he assumes that we are good. And also it just assumes that we have a moral compass inside us. And we kind of know what's right. And I write in the book, actually, I take my belief from something Abraham Lincoln said. He said in 1860, he said, when I do good, I feel good, when I do bad, I feel bad and that's my religion. And I think we all know that. We can understand that.
KING: Let me get a break and we'll take calls for Christopher Reeve and his wife, Dana. The new book "Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life," with an amazing guy and extraordinary lady. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "CHRISTOPHER REEVE COURAGEOUS STEPS")
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's already made more progress than even I would have ever predicted based on the therapies that we've been providing. Pretty much no one else would probably even believe that he's had this recovery. That's the magnitude of the impact that this has.
Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "CHRISTOPHER REEVE COURAGEOUS STEPS")
C. REEVE: What was really remarkable was their staff in St. Louis asked me and our staff if what we wanted to do. So we said, well, let's see what happens if I sit and see if I can kick my legs. What was remarkable is that I kicked both legs in spite of the fact that I had five pound ankle weights on each leg.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana Reeve. The book is "Nothing is Impossible." And the clips you're seeing are from "Christopher Reeve Courageous Steps" which was put together by his eldest son Matthew. Christopher is with his wife Dana. And we're going to include your phone calls.
Metairie, Louisiana, Hello.
CALLER: I have been paralyzed for a few months now. And I just want to know, like, I heard all the remarkable things about how he's recovering. And I just think that's so amazing. I just want to know how all that's happening. I want to know if it's possible that I could actually have that done to me or many people are getting it done. I don't know.
KING: Are you paralyzed waist down, sir?
CALLER: From the T-3. That's around the chest.
KING: OK. Chris, I guess you know what that is.
C. REEVE: Yes. You have a really good shot because there is something called treadmill walking therapy which is now being done at many centers around the country. And people have -- who have your level of injury, you've got upper body. You can use your arms I assume. And what you do is get to one of these centers and you go on a treadmill for about an hour a day for about 60 days and after that time you'll be able to walk on your own. It's been done already in about 500 people in this country.
KING: Wow. You explain...
C. REEVE: Let me tell you how to do this. If go to Paralysis.org, and that will get you to our resource center and we can help you.
KING: That's Paralysis -- repeat that.
C. REEVE: Paralysis.org.
KING: Paralysis.org. Can you explain, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the next call, without being too technical, why exercise works?
C. REEVE: The reason that it works is because there is energy and memory stored in the spinal cord and there's something called a central pattern generator in the lumbar region. Sorry. Because it doesn't take a lot of brain power to walk. So simply the repetitive motion will remind your spine how to walk. And you'll be able to do it, probably with a cane, but you'll be able to get up out of your chair.
KING: Carmel, Indiana, for the Reeves, hello.
CALLER: Yes, hi Larry, Chris and Dana.
CALLER: I actually have two questions.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: If you were to have let's say appendicitis attack, or an ulcer, how would you detect it? and my second question is, what do you do to help prevent osteoporosis?
KING: Two great questions.
C. REEVE: Well, I'm lucky. First of all, I had my appendix out when I was about 12. So that was easy. I actually did have ulcers as a result of the injury because a spinal cord injury affects every organ in the body. And fortunately the ulcers did go away after about a month. And the second part of the question...
D. REEVE: To interject, he can feel hunger and stomach pain and so you can tell.
KING: So in other words, if you had, God forbid, angina pain, you would feel it?
C. REEVE: Yes, absolutely.
KING: Second part was how do you prevent osteoporosis?
C. REEVE: Right. The way you prevent osteoporosis is by bearing weight, by standing, which is done with a tilt table. You lie horizontal and you get strapped on and then you stand vertically and also you take massive doses of calcium. I, in fact, developed severe osteoporosis but was put on a course of calcium and a drug called Aredia every two months. And I have gone from severe osteoporosis back to having the bones I had when I was 30. So osteoporosis can be reversed totally.
KING: Hayward, California, hello.
CALLER: Good evening, first of all, I want to let you know that you've been a big inspiration to me and my family. I have been battling breast cancer, bone cancer and now leukemia all within the last year. And I just want to know how you both stay so motivated and keep your faith and stay strong and stay together.
C. REEVE: I think...
KING: Dana, you want to start with that?
C. REEVE: That's all right, you go ahead.
KING: Dana, you start.
D. REEVE: I think -- I mean, what you're battling is you have one thing after another. And my heart goes out to you. We support one another and one of the things that both of us have found, that when we're feeling sorry for ourselves, the first thing we try to do is reach out to help someone else. And it's amazing how you can start feeling better because of that. That's one of the things. What were you going to say, honey?
C. REEVE: Not much more I could add to that, really. That's such a great answer.
D. REEVE: And a support system. It's key to have a support system. We have people who work for us who are incredible. Family members who are incredible. And I hope that you have the same because that sounds like you're going through a lot.
KING: Christopher, aren't there days when you get down?
C. REEVE: Sure, absolutely.
KING: And what do you do?
REEVE: Take action. And I think whether you're on your feet or not, whether you're healthy or not, it doesn't matter. The thing to do whenever you're feeling depressed is you cannot go down that spiral into negativity about yourself. And the way out of it is to do something active. For example, I'll do extra physical exercise, or make sure I really pay extra attention to Dana or the kids.
D. REEVE: Or reach out to friends.
C. REEVE: Or reach out to friends, or do some work. But it's about being action -- in action. And also, getting the attention off yourself. That's number one.
D. REEVE: Yeah.
KING: By the way, Chris, are you going to act and direct again?
C. REEVE: I'll be directing. Hopefully in the spring. And -- but no plans for -- sorry. No plans for acting right now, but directing coming up.
KING: I bet you could do a role, couldn't you?
C. REEVE: Well, what's amazing is that I acted for 35 years and never won an award. And then I did a movie, "Rear Window," after I was injured, and I got the Screen Actors Guild award for best actor. Go figure. Who knows?
KING: We'll be back with more of Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. More phone calls, too. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. It's much stronger than it was the last time we were here.
C. REEVE: Yes.
C. REEVE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sensation now is about 70 percent normal. So he can really feel throughout his entire body. And then the biggest surprise is that he's really had a big jump in his ability to move muscles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anything, it's made you even stronger on this side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
C. REEVE: And they stimulate the muscles that make me push the pedals. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is great for circulation and also to elevate my heart rate. Our goal is to get it up into the 90s, to get a cardiovascular workout. And this motion has helped my ability to move my legs on land and in the pool.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Christopher Reeve, his wife Dana. The book is "Nothing Is Impossible." Back to the calls. San Martin, California, hello.
CALLER: I have two questions, actually.
CALLER: OK. The first question is, how voluntary is your movement? I'm in a wheelchair, and I find that I can actually move my leg if I pull real hard. And my second question is, do you have pain, and how do you deal with it?
C. REEVE: Fortunately the movements that we're talking about are all voluntary, and most of them I do against resistance to build up strength. So if I'm lying in bed with my knee bent and my foot in somebody's shoulder, I have them offer a lot of resistance so I have to push hard to strengthen the muscle. And the second part of the question is, luckily, I don't suffer any pain whatsoever. Often, that happens in spinal cord patients, who develop cysts or cavities, but that hasn't happened to me.
KING: I know that amputees claim that they can sometimes feel their arm and feel their finger.
D. REEVE: Phantom pain.
KING: Phantom pain. Do you get that, Chris?
C. REEVE: No, because I have normal sensation or -- sorry. Nearly normal sensation over about 70 percent of my body. So there's no phantom sensation.
KING: Lake Elsinore, California for the Reeves, hello.
CALLER: My nephew broke his neck a couple of weeks ago, the number one vertebrae. And he's still in critical care. What can we do to help him out mentally, to try to uplift his spirits? Because he has bad days and good days. And we're kind of stuck. And also, therapy-wise, when he gets his neck set, hopefully this Thursday, where do we go from there?
C. REEVE: Well, it's going to be absolutely critical to find a progressive rehab center, where they're going to do more than the bare minimum. And also, to protect him from any further injury. But he needs to start exercising as soon as possible, you know, once he's stabilized from the surgery. And again, do not accept any absolutes from doctors. In other words, you have no idea what might happen.
So what I'm saying is it's the same injury I did. My first vertebrae was so decimated that my head was not connected to my body. And five years later, seven years later, I'm moving.
D. REEVE: But also, again, paralysis.org will get you to the resource center if you need a list of rehab hospitals or practical steps you need to take from the point where he's passed the acute phase into the rehab phase.
KING: Everyone should make a note, the caller as well, of that Internet site, paralysis.org. I'm sorry. Go ahead, Chris.
C. REEVE: Larry, if I may. If people would like to get to the foundation to help us...
KING: Oh, sure.
C. REEVE: ... to raise money, if I could just say that there's a couple ways to do it.
D. REEVE: To help the foundation, not us.
C. REEVE: And by the way, I take no money from the foundation.
D. REEVE: Right.
C. REEVE: They don't even pay for gas for the car to come to meetings.
KING: How can people help?
C. REEVE: By donating to just ChristopherReeve.org. And you can also make a donation through Amazon.org. Sorry, Amazon.com.
KING: Amazon.com. I don't know, I'm ignorant, I don't know the difference between org and com. It's all a big blob (ph) to me.
D. REEVE: Clearly to him as well.
KING: Lincoln, Nebraska, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Mr. King. Thanks for the time.
KING: You're welcome.
CALLER: Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Reeve.
C. REEVE: Hi there.
D. REEVE: Hi.
CALLER: How do you avoid pressure sores, and when they happen, how do you make them go away?
C. REEVE: Well, I have had my share of pressure sores, that's for sure.
KING: What is that, Chris?
C. REEVE: A pressure sore develops because you can't move enough.
D. REEVE: It's skin breakdown.
C. REEVE: The skin breakdown, and it usually happens in the sacral area, from being seated so long. You try to avoid it by moving back and forth, just tilting your chair every 30 minutes or so, and also being turned in bed at night. But good nutrition is very, very important. Maintaining circulation, once again, that's exercise. But I have had some really bad ones. But the good news is that I have recovered. And you can recover, too.
KING: To Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, hello.
CALLER: Hello. Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Reeve. It is a pleasure to be speaking with you. I wanted to ask, what is your most inspirational message that you can give to families who are going through similar circumstances?
KING: Are you, ma'am? Caller, are you going through a circumstance?
CALLER: No, I'm not.
KING: Oh, you just want what the message would be?
CALLER: Well, I just feel that they are inspirational to all of us who are watching them, and I'm wondering what is the most inspirational message that they can give to families who are going through similar circumstances.
KING: Got it.
D. REEVE: There is hope, I think.
C. REEVE: Yes.
D. REEVE: Three simple words.
C. REEVE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
D. REEVE: Well, no, I think that that is -- if you're going to encapsulate it, there is hope. And that through every dark corridor, there is some door that's going to lead to light. And it takes a lot of work and it takes a lot of support. That's easy after-isms to say, not so much to live. But there really is hope.
C. REEVE: And the other thing is that hope -- hope, I say this in my book in an essay called "The Lighthouse," is that hope is different from optimism or wishful thinking. And hope has to be built on the same solid foundation as a lighthouse. But thankfully, where we are now with science and where we are with physical therapy, it's tremendous what's happening, the breakthroughs all around the world. So when I say to people who are paralyzed or suffering from Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and leukemia, et cetera, this is really the dawning of a new age of real hope.
KING: We will take a break and be back with our remaining moments with the -- boy, if I think back to the first time I interviewed Chris after the accident on a rainy day in New York City, what a difference. Christopher Reeve and Dana Reeve. The book is "Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life." Back with our remaining moments after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "CHRISTOPHER REEVE COURAGEOUS STEPS")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris is mostly house bound in the wintertime because it's cold. He is on a ventilator 24 hours a day. He is always susceptible to pneumonia, to colds, flu, any kind of upper respiratory track infection.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We're back. Herbster, Wisconsin for the Reeves, hello.
CALLER: Yes. I wanted to ask, if they approve stem cell research, how long do you think it will be until they begin the surgeries?
C. REEVE: Well, stem cells are the research with embryonic stem cells and stem cells derived from nucleus transplantation. It's still in its infancy because of political controversy in the federal government, which now fortunately has been broken through and adopted by California. But I think they're going to be able to start getting this into humans within the next three years or so.
KING: Last call. Kanata, Canada, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Chris and Dana. I just wanted to say what an inspiration you both are. The love you share is unbelievable. My question is, you have children and I have a daughter who's extremely in love with horses. And the love of riding is a passion that I have never seen. If you could offer any advice as far as safety. As a mother, it's a big fear. I don't have the love of horses but she truly does.
KING: That's a great question. We've got about 45 seconds, Chris, what advice would you give to the horsemen and horseladies?
C. REEVE: OK. Wear a helmet. Don't exceed your abilities. But as a parent, don't make your child afraid. Because if she does it with fear then she might be injured. But my daughter Alexandra, who I taught to ride, she gave it up for a while. And I said, no, continue, you love it. And now she's playing polo for Yale. So you have got to let people go ahead and do their thing and do it safely.
KING: Thank you both so much. You're an inspiration to everybody. And I always love seeing you.
D. REEVE: Thanks, Larry.
REEVE: Larry, thank you so much.
KING: Christopher Reeve, actor, director, activist, author of "Nothing is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life," and focus of the recently broadcast documentary "Christopher Reeve Courageous Steps," done by his son, Matthew. And his lovely wife, Dana, what a lady she is. She's on the board of directors of the Christopher Reeve Foundation. And don't forget Paralysis.org. And you can contact Christopher Reeve through ChristopherReeve.org as well.
We'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: I was just about to tell you Aaron Brown's on next. But our promo department already told you. We're working on guests for tomorrow. We don't have it booked yet, but it'll be terrific, so check for CNN throughout the day to find out who's on. He's in Atlanta tonight. That's home base. That only means one of two things, up or down. What's going on, Mr. Brown?
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