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.
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