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Thread: Started my senior year and wound up in hospice

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  1. #1
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    Started my senior year and wound up in hospice

    After work one August night in 1982 crashed at my dorm, woke up and registered for my senior year and drove home to my parents house. Got up Saturday morning, drove to the beach picking up three buddies on the way, they informed me there was a surfing contest at the inlet.

    Drove to Sebastian and three seconds life changed. Dove off the jetty, bounced off the bottom of the Atlantic then slowly floated up face down behind the break.

    Waited for my head to clear in order to roll over and swim for shore. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Realizing that I need to take a breath soon, raised my elbow (learning later about no triceps) as a swell went by, rolling me over on my back.

    Took a breath, relax, no problem stars had gone away, head was clearing, now will just roll over and swim for shore, still didn't work. Then someone started towing me (there were 10,000 people there) and, then put me on a long board, then some sort of stretcher at the beach, into a 4 x 4 vehicle at the water line, to a gurney in the parking lot and into an ambulance.

    Got discharged from rehab on Friday and on Saturday morning two of my nurses picked me up in a candy apple red T top Corvette and as we drove down A1A, the friend who bought my '71 Satellite pulled up to the stop sign right as we drove by. Another friend bought my bike, a ?76 750 Yamaha swing back with a driveshaft.

    For most of the 80s had to drive to Orlando to get any help with the SCI then they built Sea Pines and met Dr. Miller. He wore scrubs and flip-flops and had an Atari game in his office, my kind of guy. Remember him telling me to shut up and listen and would learn something, always did.

    Knew two things after breaking my neck 1) could not live with my parents and 2) could not count on Social Security. Didn't have a penny to my name, so after finishing my degree in Business and couldn't get a job, went back to school and getting a degree in computers.

    From working full-time, Scuba diving, waterskiing, chess tournaments, traveling the country and living in hotels for months from Burbank to Birmingham, Nashua to Key West, am now paying the price. One of my biggest problems is accepting help and yesterday was admitted to hospice, is there any interest in what happened in between? Does my story interest anyone, is it any different than anyone else's? My demise is not imminent, just takes a little bit to get your head around the label.

  2. #2
    Seems like you got a story to tell, and you’re a good writer. Don’t wait for permission. Tell your story.

  3. #3
    Write it up and sell it. Hit the TV circuit. Be good to see something other than the: I was paralyzed and god made me walk or if you work reaaaaaal hard you can walk again, crap.

  4. #4
    I agree. Consider writing more; perhaps approach New Mobility to do an article for them about your life experiences after SCI/D. That would be a way to get started, while you also consider and work on expanding this into a autobiography book. I am sure you have a lot of life experience that would be helpful for anyone dealing with life set-backs, not just others with disabilities.

    (KLD)
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bigtop1's Avatar
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    I like it. Good luck on your efforts.
    I refuse to tip toe through life, only to arrive safely at death.

  6. #6
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    Throughout our lives we wonder if we are successful or if others think we are. It is as natural as "Keeping up with the Joneses". Competition or comparison amongst other individuals of our society from athletics to mating, it is inherent to ourselves as a species.

    In our lives, injured or not, we will seek a purpose, a reason or an answer to life's question, "Why was I born to suffer and die?"

    To determine if life was a success, what metrics does society, we ourselves, use to answer this question. Income, net worth, wife, kids or quality of life, how do we measure success, or even define it? Having firsthand knowledge of what we lost , do we not now have different criteria of what it is? Our values have changed as has our measurement of this criteria.

    Of course there are successes as well as failures trying to function in today's society with a significant disability and still having troubles accepting it.

    A litany of anecdotal adventurers stories may perhaps be entertaining, like a TV show, yet not reveal any purpose, insight, make no statement about the tragedies and triumphs of living, or what makes you continue living as a quadriplegic. to explain do you outweigh competent ADLs such as changing the sheets may be a pragmatic "How to Guide" that a combined effort of the community could produce a much better product than myself alone. It would take a lot of time and energy to relive and physically write and without any desire or purpose, no longer have the energy to expound on it now, perhaps another time.

    Why is my story any different than any of yours? Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

  7. #7
    You'll never know if your story is different unless you take the change. Such is life. Those that try and those that don't. Generally people look back and say "I wish I would have."

  8. #8
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    Don?t know when this was written, but while looking at it a friend (Guilty of much) came over, started reading it at the same time and then saying he was glad that the ?stairs at the fire department? or ?bouncing off the steamboat? during a beach dive were not mentioned.

    Back to what I found:

    Have either painted myself into a corner, or am boxed in a paradox. Did not know how bad my injury was at the time, still learning its magnitude and ramifications, implications and connotations today, but the friends who saw me in the hospital did.

    From my perspective did not realize the visual impact of being in a rotating bed while my neck was healing. One told me his stomach dropped out when he walked into my hospital room and saw me in the bed with tongs screwed in the my head and weights hanging off the cable. Look one up on the Internet the other month and it looked pretty medieval.

    They gave me a beer every lunch and dinner in an attempt to get calories in me, didn?t drink any of them. Was also blessed by a doctor who sanctioned smoking marijuana to induce my appetite, this was in Florida ?82.

    Didn't realize it at the time, but even with my hospital room door open, we smoked a joint of skunk weed. A nurse came into the room one time, gave everyone a dirty look, and not saying a word, shutting the door as she left.

    After six weeks the fusion in my neck had healed and was ready to go to rehab and got my first UTI. Needless to say they won't transport you with a fever (mine was 106) and was having some serious hallucinations. Threatened to pack me in ice if I didn't start drinking more water, but aren't IV fluids the same?

    Got to Humana Lucerne in Orlando ~mid October and was introduced to my nurse named Steve, she was quite good-looking and my therapist named Kermit. However, this is only an extension of all the strange and horrible things that were waiting to be exposed to me.

    My roommate was a biker who got a pressure sore deliberately so he could collect $100 every day hospitalized. They put him on home healthcare and he was not happy. Next roommate became a lifelong friend, talk to him the other day.

    Had all the pokes, scrapes and brushes determining me a C6 complete, today they would call me a C6 Asia A. Do not have any grip or wrist extensors so have the classic quad club hand. Had a trace of triceps, which is a big blessing, perhaps from swimming in California and surfing in Florida. After discharge used Nautilus equipment to get my triceps back (stronger). Still have no grip or hand function.


    Had a really bad attitude and later found out that were going to throw me out of rehab because I wasn?t to do anything. Furry memories.

    However, after going home for a visit during Christmas, and friends came over, realized life goes on. Was discharged six weeks later and was back in the dorms in six months.

    Approaching discharge from rehab, you have a meeting with all the doctors, nurses, therapists, home modifications (with my parents never did, not even a ramp), etc. and they told us all their conclusions and asked if we had any questions.

    I asked if there was any reason why I could not live by myself and there was an awkward silence. Then one by one, each person said ?no? with a caveat and was back in the dorms six months after discharge living by myself ever since.

    Finished my degree in Business and could not find an entry-level position. Then with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation, got a degree in Computers and got in the door as a Systems Analyst and then transferred to Contract Administration.

    One day after work, was whining into my beer about taking my showers outside with a garden hose in January. Not even a ramp, had to pop of wheelie as a C6 quad wet to get off the porch.

    A stranger came up to me and told me he would build me a custom apartment. Listened politely not confidently, yet he built me a great little place. Later his wife made me get out of bed, go down the street and purchase a house with a guest house then went back to bed.

    She also helped me acquire two duplexes, on 15 year notes, and rented them out for me. Have been blessed with an incredible occupancy rate of over 95% and now they?re both paid for.

    Worked at the local Center for Independent Living for a year and then went to work for the DOD as a Systems Analyst and then as a Contract Administrator at Patrick Air Force Base, CCAFS, KSC, Northrop Grumman (when it was just Grumman), Harris and then retired, got bored and went to work for the local hospital conglomerate IT department.

    Then got a new wheelchair, broke my day legs four times in two years and things went downhill from then.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cris View Post
    It would take a lot of time and energy to relive and physically write and without any desire or purpose, no longer have the energy to expound on it now, perhaps another time.
    Hello Cris. From what you have revealed in this thread, you have a story worth the telling.

    Are you are too fatigued(?) to embark on such a task?
    Maybe a ghost writer would be a solution?
    I would think that the narrative of your life would be of interest to a lot of people regardless of their physical condition and an inspiration to many.

    Some days are just too much..........We all need inspiration to function, even half well, in this life.
    Well, I do.

    I have enjoyed what you have revealed this far. You have improved my day.

    Don't let Hollywood get hold of the story, there is every chance that they will just screw it up
    Last edited by slow_runner; 12-25-2018 at 07:24 PM. Reason: spelling. yeah, I know, its a bit anal. but it bugs me. (grin)

  10. #10
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    When the 4 x 4 got off the dunes into the parking lot was transferred into the ambulance and they started to cut off my favorite pair of baggies. Told them to stop, but they did it anyway.

    When we left the beach noticed that we turned south on A1A and asked why. They told me that Indian River Memorial Hospital was the closest, thank goodness. In hindsight got one of the best surgeons in the United States who purchased a rotating bed with his own money for the hospital. After the hospital realize how well they were in reducing decubitus, they reimbursed the doctor and purchased three more.

    However, this is where repression kicks in and is hard for me to write, don't want to go back to that day. Have not remembered a dream since breaking my neck, but get ?day mares? or flashbacks sometimes and can feel the defense mechanism kick in and do not want to relive the day.

    A rotating bed goes 82 ?? (four minutes to each side) and once you get into the smooth movement it doesn't bother you. Unfortunately, to start the bed you moving need to engage the motor. This is done by turning the bed X amount of degrees until it finds the "locked in" position.

    Well when they?re moving to the bed to engage the mechanism they?re moving in a freefall manner, very quickly and it scared the hell out of me because that?s how I thought it was going to be all the time. To compound it, the people were not familiar with the bed and had trouble engaging the "clutch" without having to swinging from side to side so severely.

    After telling them to stop swaying the bed like that, they told me it would get better and would actually like it. Because they were unable to engage it correctly requiring more radical swings of the bed to engage it, told them stop. Told them to take me out to the parking lot, not going in that bed. Then some nurse told me, ?shut up, you?re never going to walk again.? still told them that I was ?not going in that bed.?

    My parents are in Maine, my brother was in Alaska, I?m 21, just broke my neck and the only thing I know is something bad happened.

    Was obviously sedated and awoke laying flat on my back, not moving. (In our injured lives, how much time have we spent staring at those white ceiling tiles (Don?t believe I ever got over 3000 when counting the dots on the ceiling tiles).

    Next thing I remember is a nurse pulling up a chair sitting down and talking to me. Just talking to me, introducing herself and then explaining how the rotating bed works and why it was necessary and apologized for what happened last night.

    My memory of the bed is swinging freefall, so we agreed that I would try it again, as long as they stopped it as soon as I said to. It clicked immediately into place and started rotating 82 1/2? every degrees every eight minutes for the next seven weeks, except for one incident.

    Several days after the initial injury (swelling to go down) the doctor walked into my room and he had a plant mist bottle hanging on his pocket. He started this misting my face and asked him what was he doing and he told me bring you with cocaine.

    The surgery to fuse the spinal column which took more than 14 hours. It took so long because of picking up all the shards from my shattered vertebrae. Then took the piece of bone out of my hip and laid it over C-5 to C8? Can still see a little piece of wire when getting an x-ray of my neck.

    To stabilize my spinal column to heal after putting the bone for my hip had tongs screwed into my head. At the end of the tongs were some weights to keep it rigid.

    Don?t know why, had to be human error, but the wire cable connecting the weights to the tongs screwed into my head, caught on something and when the bed rotated to the other direction, the weights free fell. The doctor did come in at 2 o'clock that morning and fortunately, no further damage.

    One day later asked my doctor if I had severed my spinal cord and he told me to imagine a banana wrapped in cellophane lying in the palm of your hand. Then smashing it in half with your other hand. The cellophane did not break, but you never going to connect those pieces of the banana together again.

    After asking the doctor when he was going to take the take off the tongs and he said, as most doctors "in a couple of weeks". Pondering that for a moment replied "a couple is a pair and a pair is two, therefore your going to take them off in two weeks, right?".

    He did actually remove them two weeks later and was supposed to go to rehab the following week.
    Last edited by Cris; 01-23-2019 at 01:53 PM.

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