My Preinjury Journey, Accident, Life in the Hospital, and Post Injury. (Warning Adult Content)

Welcome to the Quad Whisperer Chronicles, this is Lloyd Now that you viewed how I became a quad, this video is my in depth info about what I went through prior to my accident and in the hospital stay Now I wrote an autobiography about my life that hopefully will be published soon and in this video I’m going to read a chapter about how I broke my neck Here we go. Why did all this happen to me? My mind always asks me these questions along with who knows how many people asking me, “Why are you in a wheelchair?” I wake up every morning with a new outlook on life Some days are great Some days I wonder why am I still alive There is always a purpose isn’t there? Whenever I gave a speaking presentation about living with a disability, I always said I should write a book Why do you ask? Well, my life as a quadriplegic is unreal yet what you are about to hear and read from my life experiences, will undoubtedly have an impact on how you perceive people with disabilities Not many stories contain true events of numerous sexual relationships, using medical marijuana, having drunk and stoned caregivers, playing poker online, at friend’s house and at the casino; betting on sports, dealing with religion, going to college getting an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and master’s degree, working three jobs at once for 8 years, co-producer and host of a local cable show about disabilities for 14 years, serving on the Board of Directors at Disabled Resources Center for 10 years being president for 3 of them, changing jobs, got engaged for almost 5 years, all while living at home with my mom, and oh yeah, having a spinal cord injury How did this all transpire? Let’s start off in the beginning I attended Millikan High School in Long Beach, CA During my sophomore year, I was a reporter for the school newspaper, the Corydon; my junior year I was an editor for the front page and sports page and in my senior year, I was the editor-in-chief and graphic artist assistant I’ll be showing you 3 pictures – one, my graduation, & 2 from journalism so you’re going to see two pictures of me standing During my junior year, the school implemented a new policy where if you were late to class, they locked all the doors, swept the campus for students, and you had to go to the detention room for that period The reason I bring this up is that rule influenced my future Now the day my life changed forever was Tuesday, May 1, 1990, at 12:37 p.m. driving back to high school at lunch Being the editor-in-chief for the school newspaper that night we were supposed to put together our 8-page newspaper Since I knew I’d be on campus until late that night, I figured to get some good grub

to hold me over I was with some friends where we drove in separate cars to Volcano burger for lunch The lunchtime recess was around 50 minutes and Volcano burger was 2.7 miles away (just about 8 minutes driving) and they took forever to make our food Finally, the food was ready and it was getting late – had around 13 minutes or so to make it back to school I was driving and I had a passenger named Chris with me I was driving a 1965 Volkswagen bug which didn’t have a lot of protection Since the campus locked you out if you were late, I was speeding around 70 to 80 mph to get back to school when a woman was turning her car onto a side street and hit the side of my car She didn’t anticipate how fast I was going My car spun around three times and Chris flew out and all I was told was he sustained a cut on his head Who knew, 22 years later he would run into me at a Mexican food restaurant while I was on a date I stayed in my car and only had a cut on my face Oh yeah, apparently my neck was broken at the cervical 3-4 level My best friend at the time, Mike, who was in a car behind mine, came up to my car and I asked, “What the fuck just happened?” Anyway, I don’t remember anything except waking up in Long Beach Memorial Hospital hearing the word quadriplegic What the hell is a quadriplegic? Seriously, I’m 17, never really knew how the body worked, nor did I really care All I knew was I couldn’t move my body yet I could feel everything Now my injury My body was in shock All I heard was beeps from machines I had a tube in my nose and throat, and I couldn’t move my head from wearing a halo neck brace What the hell! I can’t move my neck but I can feel my body Holy shit! Whatever happened to me must have been horrendous When I look up to see family, tears, and fear was all I witnessed That is not a good sign What have I done? What have I done? When I tried to speak, nothing happened because I had a tracheotomy and a ventilator assisting with my breathing There was a tube inserted into my urethra so I could urinate into a leg bag I tried to move my body and nothing happened I instantly became a quadriplegic (paralysis of all 4 limbs – arms and legs) Even though I broke my neck, my spinal cord wasn’t severed leaving me an incomplete quad The doctor administered the sharp/dull test by using a safety pin touching my body from head to toe to see if I could feel the difference My sensation changed below my chest but I could mostly still feel the difference between sharp and dull Why can I feel my body and not move it? Is this a blessing or a curse? To feel or not to feel? I think only other quadriplegics know the answer I ended up being in the hospital for eleven months and four days from May 1, 1990, until

April 4, 1991 Since I couldn’t breathe on my own (a big problem is respiratory issues with high-level injuries like mine), I was on a ventilator for 6 weeks I became addicted to Demerol (wonderful pain medication) and Halcion (sleeping medication that gives you trippy dreams) for three months then the doctor made me quit using so I could go to rehabilitation. That was the policy that they had So many days I just wanted drugs and not deal with my new life Six weeks into my stay, I had a spinal cord fusion surgery where they took some bone of my hip and fused it to my C3-4 vertebrae The surgery was a success except I woke up early and my neck was on fire So for one night, I had a Morphine drip and the doctor ordered boluses which are a shot of Morphine to decrease the pain One problem was every time I had a bolus, I threw up on myself That was not a fun night whatsoever During the third month, the nurses put me in a standing table As I was elevated, stars were appearing in my head and I almost passed out My blood pressure was all out of whack That’s when I learned about Autonomic Dysreflexia which is an elevated blood pressure from various causes such as an impacted bowel, urinary tract infection, a blocked catheter, etc All the joys of having a spinal cord injury Now when you do become paralyzed, you lose all ability to control your bowel and bladder function Instantly the nurse inserted a tube into my urethra through the penis held in by a balloon so I urinated into a leg bag Around 5 months into my stay, the Urologist recommended I have a suprapubic tube Therefore, I had a surgery where he inserted a tube above my pubic hair below my waist and was held in by an inflated balloon inside the bladder This allowed me to urinate since I couldn’t do it on my own But then I had to wear a leg bag Regarding my bowel function, I had disposable chux pads underneath me all the time When I would shit, the nurses had to clean my ass up and go in with their finger to digital stimulate my anus to make sure I was empty Oh the joys of having bowel care where someone is digging the shit out of me! I did have to get on a routine so now I go every other day which has worked Did I mention that I could feel my whole body due to having an incomplete injury? Guess what happens when you are a teenage guy with total feeling but can’t move anything? Hello, erections!!! Talk about embarrassment I was more embarrassed by having uncontrollable erections and seemed like everyone could see me get erect While in rehab and when I was in my wheelchair, I always had a nurse put a pillow on my lap to disguise my stiffy One day a nurse told me “you might be embarrassed now but when you are older and you tell women

you can get erections, you’ll be very happy.” Of course, at the time I’m thinking “whatever” but damn was she right I’ve been very fortunate with my erections Later on, oh the relationships I have had Since I had very little arm use, the physical therapy team advised I use a sip-and-puff power wheelchair (you puff into a straw to go forward and sip to go backwards) to get around In the beginning, I had to learn how to maneuver my wheelchair by driving around the hospital and trying not to run into anybody A couple of times, I slammed into the medicine cart probably hoping some drugs would pop into my mouth Also, my wheelchair reclined totally flat to prevent pressure sores While in the hospital, I had a psychologist who would come to my bed and asked me how I was doing with my adjustment Imagine you’re lying in bed, cannot speak or move, and a psychologist is asking you how are you feeling? Are you fucking kidding me? Do you have any idea what my life is going to be like? Seriously have a psychologist asking me how I’m feeling! This guy cannot relate to anything I am going through or will go through At least he gave me an idea of what I could do in the future – possibly become a psychologist to talk to newly injured spinal cord people or counsel people with disabilities Yes I understand people who go to school and get their degree They learn how to counsel people with disabilities or drug addiction or whatever issue that they are dealing with yet when there is no relatability, sorry you can imagine it but if you’ve never experienced it, how can you really understand Let us try an exercise Pretend to be a quad and lay down in bed and don’t move Now you have an itch Nope, you cannot scratch yourself Oh, you have to go take a dump now Sorry, let it flow in bed and make sure you get someone to clean your ass up Want to see what it is like sitting in a wheelchair? Go rent one and enjoy Oh, you will get reactions from many older folks and children will say “mommy why is he in a wheelchair” or how about “do you need help” over and over again The problem is you know you are getting out of the wheelchair unlike me Those simulation exercises albeit well-intended are just wrong Nobody will understand what I am going through because we are all unique individuals and every disability varies Now during my hospital stay, Desert Storm started in August 1990 In January 91 until February 91, the combat mission was on TV 24 hours a day Talk about tormenting an 18-year-old soul But I did learn a lot from TV You see, my dad used to visit and would pray for me to be healed He would bring all kinds of people in to pray over me I hated it but I couldn’t talk, nor did I want anyone to feel bad because what if I did get healed? Well, I learned the difference between listening and hearing I would hear my dad praying but I would listen to the TV One of the most valuable lessons from not talking was learning how to listen

I was discharged from the hospital on April 4, 1991 I had been living in the hospital for 11 months and four days I did not want to go home Why would I? I still had a tracheostomy tube and could not speak You had to read my lips or I would blink my eyes once for yes and twice for no What kind of life would that be where I couldn’t move or talk? But looking back on my hospital stay, I was very fortunate in that I had health insurance from working and being on my mom’s health insurance plan since she was a Federal employee Since I had double insurance, they allowed me to stay in the hospital longer During the past couple of months before being discharged, the hospital social worker would provide me and my family with many resources such as the local independent living center, acquiring Social Security disability benefits, caregiving resources, disability support groups, and spinal cord injury resource guides I was not aware of everything that had to be done to make our house accessible such as widening the doors, remodeling a bathroom so it now it has a roll-in shower, installing a ramp so I can get inside the house, finding resources to buy an accessible wheelchair van (luckily a disability organization donated an accessible van because of my story), accessing a hospital bed for home because I needed a bed that had an adjustable feet and head settings, and acquiring a Hoyer lift that allows me to get in and out of bed with a person’s assistance Oh yeah, I had to hire a full-time caregiver because my mom was not going to stay home I qualified for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) that paid for my caregiving needs and I started receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because I was working which would pay for my caregiving hours Luckily I received the maximum amount of hours but I needed to find a qualified caregiver who could take care of me After mom interviewed numerous people, Josefa showed up and she was hired In fact, Josefa still works for me—29 years and counting that might be a record One thing that I learned from going through a tragic event is that you find out who your true friends are and how much support you really have from family, friends, and co-workers I was 17 when my life changed and even though I worked and had some close friends, well I was starting a whole new life When I turned 18 in the hospital, a friend brought me a porno to watch in my room Seriously, I watched a porno but there was no stripper or prostitute to offer me a hand I have no clue what he was thinking From the day I came home, all I wanted to do was talk I had an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who referred me to an ENT Specialist He thought that lasering away scar tissue would allow me to talk again My first laser surgery was in June 1991 I went to the hospital and had the first of at least 5 laser surgeries Each surgery the doctor would zap away the scar tissue only to have it grow right back

I felt defeated and hopeless The doctor had one last option and he discussed it with me He explained the procedure It was a tracheal resection where he would slice my throat open, reach inside the trachea, and cut out two inches of the damaged scar tissue area, stitch the trachea together (going from 4 inches to 2 inches) and stapling my neck while stitching my chin to my chest so I couldn’t move He explained all the consequences that could happen (death being one of them) I could not have said yes fast enough The operation occurred in August 1992 at UCI Medical Center and who knew the surgery worked and I got my voice back Waking up after the procedure my chin was sown to my chest so I couldn’t move my neck at all until the doctor thought it was healed Literally my chin was sowed to my chest I looked like a violin player that had strings from my chin to my chest Very very very bizarre looking Well that lasted 10 days but 2 days after the procedure I could talk After the hospital stay, I was discharged back home but now I had a voice and I could talk Living at home with your mother is an adventure I have wanted to move out but for some reason, I chose not to I still live at home with my mother even though I’ve had a couple of opportunities to move out, I just didn’t feel safe My life plan was to get married, find a full-time job with medical benefits, get off of disability benefits, buy a house, make it accessible, and enjoy living I was on track but events in my life detoured me moving out Now if you saw the video Now if you saw the video, my mom gave me three options Thinking about those three options my mom gave me, I felt going to college was the best route to go During high school, I really enjoyed journalism and graphic arts (I even received a $1000 scholarship from the Long Beach Press Telegram for journalism) All the other classes I couldn’t tell you anything I learned but I do remember that I passed Now people always ask me how long did it take for me to adjust to my disability? I just said it took time and luckily I accepted it very quickly The five stages of adjustment to disability are shock, denial, anger, mourning, and accepting I went through all those five stages What I learned later on while teaching was a new theory called response I’m fully adjusted yet every day I have to respond to a new situation Since I was 17, I was in that transition stage of now what? Continue working or go to college? Had I not had my accident, I’m certain I would have kept working but who knows Decisions, decisions on what to do next Damn, I have a hard time making decisions but I decided to try to make a life Hello, college! My next video I’ll be interviewed by my college counselor in 1996 & we will continue

on with the Quad Whisperer Chronicles Thank you for tuning in and please subscribe