Monday, May 4, 2009

Hello, I'm Lani Deauville

Hello. My name is Lani Deauville. Yes, the same Lani that you see in the picture on the GREENS+ Web site. I'd like to tell you a little bit about who I am, why I'm here, and what it feels like to be a 69-year-old quadriplegic who has been in a wheelchair for 51 years, and am arguably healthier than many people half my age.

If you read my story, then you know that I broke my neck in a diving accident as a wild and crazy 17-year-old. On June 2, 1958, I was in Jacksonville visiting friends who lived on the ocean. It was a very hot day and we decided to go for a swim. The water was very high on the sea wall in front of the house.

We were all partying and had had a bit too much to drink. I did a fancy dive off of the seawall and hit the ocean floor! Having worked as a lifeguard, I knew that dead weight was a lot more difficult to carry than someone who was helping, but found that I couldn't move my arm to put around the fellow's neck that was trying to carry me out of the water. Since I was having trouble breathing, I thought that I had just had the breath knocked out of me.

The next thing that I remember was a doctor looking into the hearse. (Yes, in those days they actually used hearses as ambulances!) The doctor thought that I was unconscious and said, “She's broken her neck. She's not going to make it, but you may as well try to get her to the hospital.”

To this day, I am grateful to that unknown doctor because, by saying that, it was like giving me a shot of adrenaline! I was furious that the doctor thought that I was going to die! Later, the ambulance attendant would tell me that the entire way to the hospital I cursed the doctor for being so stupid as to think that I was going to die!

The doctor came close to being right many times during the year and a half that I was hospitalized. I had a lot of trouble breathing because my lungs were paralyzed. I fought being put into an iron lung -- and won. I experienced frequent urinary tract infections and had decubitus ulcers -- bedsores (one down to the bone). I had one near-death experience.

There were no televisions in hospital rooms in those days. My roommate was a woman in her 90s who was in a coma. If I wasn't fighting dying, I was practically dying of boredom! It was a very strange time for me. But it taught me one thing: adversity makes you stronger!

So, right now, you are probably thinking, "Wow, what an impressive woman!"

I don’t think so!

Surprise! I am a bit nuts and a whole lot goofy, too. I love life. I love being nuts. I love people. And you are going to learn a lot more about me and my service dog, Benny.

‘Til next time.


  1. Oh my... where do I start to contribute.

    How about I start with HURRAY for you Lani... starting a chat room of which I am excited to be a member :>
    Right now, I'm off to my addiction, the pool for a workout, then to dinner with my 2 terrific sons. I will be sharing soon and often...
    I'm just so happy to be a part of this... Imagine the awesome & positive and productive sort of sharings that WILL happen here at Lani's Depot :> your sister, Holly

  2. How great, Lani!! It's good to catch up with you and your family in this way. You are always in my memory and "good thoughts," and this will be a way to visit, until I can get down there from here in Maryland and Charleston!! Til then.....

  3. Lani
    I have been a user of Greens+ for years but never really knew some of your personal history.
    The story of your life is a real testimonial to you personally and an inspiration to others..
    I sometimes wonder how I will deal with obsticles I face and am encouraged by your degree of optimism.
    It makes me step back and reevaluate my personal situation and how lucky I truly am.
    Thank You for starting this blog.
    Gary Mastro
    Roswell Ga.

  4. Lani
    your story is so inspiring that it put tears in my eyes.I envy your courage to live life to the fullest.... More power to you sweetie !!!!