On Your Side: Shooting victim getting stronger with each passing day

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Updated: 7/14/2014 6:10 pm
RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- It has been nearly seven months since a tragic shooting at a medical office next to Renown Medical Center. One doctor was killed, and two others were injured before the gunman took his own life.

On Your Side had the chance to catch up with one of the survivors.

Dr. Christine Lajeunesse's life changed dramatically on the day a gunman entered the offices of Urology Nevada and opened fire. She was lucky to survive, and News 4 brings you her story from that fateful day.

"My first reaction was, 'Play dead, because you don't want him to come finish you off.'"

Dr. Christine Lajeunesse remembers the day, the moment her life changed forever. A bullet filled with large, round BB's fired at close range tore apart her right forearm and ripped through her insides.

"I could feel that i was dying," said Lajeunesse. "There was no question in my mind that if I didn't get help, this was it."

Lajeunesse did get help. A dramatic video shows first responders rushing her to the emergency room within minutes of the shooting. She would spend spend more than a month hospitalized at Renown, undergoing 13 surgeries to repair her shattered arm and vital organs.

"The doctors, the staff, everybody at Renown has been extraordinary," said Lajeunesse.

These days, Dr. Lajeunesse spends much of her time at Nevada Hand Therapy, enduring some painful stretching and a variety of exercises designed to increase the strength, feeling, and flexibility in her hand and arm. On this day, she shows improvement on every single physical test.

Dr. Lajeunesse said she feels good about the improvement. "Every day it goes up, I'm happy. Every day it goes down, I "grrrrrrr!" Try harder the next day."

"It's not easy, and it's not pain free," Lajeunesse added. "But this therapy seems to be paying off, a little more every day."

"She's ahead of where she should be," said Physical Therapist Pam Schoening. "And why is that? We think it's because of how hard she works and how dedicated she is to getting better."

But the road to recovery is still uncertain. Dr. Lajeunesse, who was a successful urologist until the shooting, said she hopes to one day get back to doing what she loves most: helping patients. But she knows that is an ambitious goal.

"I miss seeing my patients, I miss operating," said Lajeunesse. "That's probably the hardest part. But my days are full."

Part of her inspiration comes from the support she has received since the shooting. She said she is grateful for every card and get well letter she received, many from people she did not even know. "Hundreds of cards; it was all heartwarming."

As for the man who shot her, 51-year-old Alan Frazier, Dr. Lajeunesse said she harbors no anger towards him. "Anger takes a lot of energy. I'm angry at the one thing, I didn't get to tell him that he missed. I wish he hadn't died thinking he killed me."

"But aside from that, why waste time on anger?"

She is a survivor, a fighter, pursuing a dream of simply getting back to where she used to be, and hoping to one day resume a career that means so much to her.

"Everybody who has asked me, 'What would you do if you were independently wealthy?" My answer was always the same: I'd still be doing the same thing. That's what I wanted to do and I enjoy it."

Frazier had apparently complained of symptoms from a botched vasectomy, but Lajeunesse said she believes he was mentally ill and simply had it out for doctors. She said she had never seen him before the day he showed up with a gun.

Reno police tell News 4 that they are still finalizing their report into the shooting.
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