I was 28 years old in Oct. of 94. I was celebrating a happy & loving third wedding anniversary. In those 28 years, I held a job for 7 years and due to health reasons, I took to school to start over a new occupation (welding), because of my loving marriage.
I am doing great, because I occupied a job (welding) just in time to take my wife out to eat and celebrated our anniversary. Did you know I had a major stroke at the end of my meal? I shot a clot that left me unable to move with 20/20 vision eyes stuck looking to the left, and this stroke did not let me verbalize to communicate.
Let us say, several years later I am considered very lucky. I still have a caring wife and very understanding family. In addition, I lived!! The saddest thing we cannot bare children and I had a deceased mother during all this.
I rose above that was said to be "impossible" for me to accomplish. With very little movement and a don't quit attitude, now I have written published short stories, graduated to complete school for computer training, and attended pool therapy where I walked steps. With intensive speech therapy, I make noise long enough for people to understand a word like, yes. I still depend on talking computers to carry my needs out. It is very frustrating, but I can type out my needs. Despite all the computing I achieved, a letter board proved the chief way to communicate. My letter board is a piece of paper with letters on it made by me and neatly designed on my home computer. This simple concept of communication allowed me to ask for a drink.
After five growling months of rehabilitation, the stressful stay at a Buffalo hospital, (Erie County Medical Center [ECMC] ) it was nice to be home again. I came home to a family and temporary built ramp with a wheelchair barely fitting through a 36-inch door. I slept in a freshly remodeled room prepared by family and friends. It was in separate sleeping quarters away from my wife in the same house.
Being cooped up in the house, my horizon was expanded with a brand new van. This paid in cash van was made possible because a caring group of family and friends who organized a benefit that 700 people attended. Because of this new van, I continued outpatient therapy. I am a survivor of pneumonia which life support helped save me again. With a 2-month come back in the hospital, therapy was able to come in my home, after spending one of 2 months for rehabilitation.
Communication continued to be my biggest problem, however. Because people held the letter board for me, it was never stationary or positioned at an ideal distance for me. In addition, people would become impatient and second-guess what I was trying to say.
During all this rebilitation, I required eye-glasses and an electric wheelchair was purchase by Medicaid. I learned to use it, which gave me the freedom to go mobile.
A small computer by Dynavox helped me communicate all my feelings. This computer was mounted on my wheelchair tray. My talent I never knew I had, received a break. I had a used IBM computer donated from a Niagara Falls native co., Carborundum. Months gone by, a local Red Lobster Restaurant donated an upgraded IBM computer. I had a huge problem! Donated computers are coming in, and there was not a computer desk out in the world that was designed for me.
This small piece of technology by Dynavox, in a sense I out grew its services and a laptop computer plays back my communicating also doing much more needed features to help keep me stay in tune with society's forever changing world. Learning computer skills helped me to not only communicate better but also help tell my story.
A family in the state of Mississippi contacted me to tell me in an e-mail, ( An easy access is provided on this web site) about how my letter board helped them finally get to communicate to a no speaking young traumatic brain injury (TBI) victim. To make a long story short, they have my Dynavox today. I specially remember this day well, the morning of 9/11/2001 . I was going to mail it to Mississippi .
Now I have a desk, I developed a short story and a series of progress letters that helped my wife accomplish things. All these things gave a start of respect. I even wrote out a guide which helped many people aide me; like in preparing my food. This put a sense of ease in the minds that used it. It was noticed by the family that an upgrade on my computer is to be needed, since I can operate one very well. Why do I need an updated version, I thought?
Although many people and companies were donating to me, the employees of Niacet never gave in. They worked to donate money to purchase a 20-inch computer monitor, which replaced a 9-inch monitor. This played a major role for my vision.
Computers never interested me. Now they fascinate me. I can send a letter to a very distant family or friend by e-mail, and read the local newspaper. It is nice to know I came from a supportive family. They purchased that computer which kept me informed and in tune to a world I lost.