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FAQ’s

How I became paralyzed?

On June 24th, 1992 (two weeks out of high school), It’s a gorgeous sunny and warm Oregon day, and I’m heading out to the Columbia River with a group of friends. We launch the boat into the water at Chinook Landing and make our way down to “Beer Can Alley”, a small island on the Washington side of the river. 

As we were pulling the boat into shore, I ran and dove off the back of the boat as it was pulling onto shore. I knew as soon as I hit the water, I had broken my neck and was in trouble. As I was trying to turn over for air, I could see that I was bleeding bad from biting my tongue. Thankfully I held air in and stayed afloat. My friends that were with me got off the boat and set-up on the beach before recognizing I was in trouble. After two minutes, Joe walked out and rolled me over and asked “Are you ok?” As I looked up, I said “Sorry, you just saw me walk for the last time and I need help.” He pulled me over to shore leaving my half in the water to keep cool and went and got help.

What life had in store for me?

This was the day my life drastically changed eighteen years ago.  I went from the athletic college bound teenager to a wheelchair bound quadriplegic.  The first year of my “new” life was spent in both Oregon and Colorado where I underwent extensive rehabilitation.  Determined to make something of myself, I spent the next 8 years in school.  The first two years I attended core and design classes at Clackamas Community College, followed by four years at Arizona State University where I received my Bachelors of Science Degree in Architecture.  I continued my education and became one of the first quadriplegics to obtain my Masters in Architecture in the country.  I taught architecture and graphic design at both Arizona State University and Portland State University before I landed a full-time position at Clark College two years ago where I am a campus designer.  In addition to my academic and career achievements, I give informational and motivational speeches for k-12 graders and I happy to say that I have continued to pursue my love of hunting, fishing, and furniture design (www.nevisstudio.com). 

What is a quadriplegic?

Quadriplegia is caused by damage to the spinal cord at a high level (e.g. cervical spine). The injury causes the victim to lose either total or partial use of the arms and legs. The condition is also termed tetraplegia; both terms mean “paralysis of four limbs”. The loss of sensation and movement may not be complete with some sensation and movement being retained in parts of the arms and legs.

We call ourselves “quads”.

What is my injury level?

I dislocated the back C-5 vertebrae forward crushing the spinal cord, leaving me a C-4/5 incomplete Quad.

C-5 injuries often result in shoulder and biceps control, but no control at the wrist or hand. C-6 injuries generally yield wrist control, but no hand function. Individuals with C-7 and T-1 injuries can straighten their arms but still may have dexterity problems with the hand and fingers.

C-5 Quadriplegics have functional deltoid and/or biceps musculature. They can internally rotate and abduct the shoulder, which causes forearm pronation by gravity. Wrist flexion is similarly produced. They can externally rotate the shoulder and cause supination and wrist extension. They can bend the elbow, but elbow extension can only be produced by gravity, or by forceful horizontal abduction of the shoulder and inertia or shoulder external rotation.

C-5 patients require assistance to perform bathing and lower body dressing functions, for bowel and bladder care, and for transfers. With the use of balanced forearm orthoses, long opponens orthoses, or universal cuffs and adaptive equipment, C-5’s can feed themselves, perform oral facial hygienic and upper body dressing activities, operate computers, tape recorders, telephone, etc. and participate in leisure activities. I can propel manual wheelchairs short distances on level surfaces, although the hand-hand rim interface should be modified with vertical or horizontal lugs (or plastic tubing can be wrapped around the rims), and gloves should be worn to protect my hands. Powered wheelchairs, propelled with a hand control, are needed for community distances and outdoor terrain.

 

What do I do as a “Campus Designer”?

I work at Clark College in Vancouver, WA. I do all the local campus design on building that have been completed and handed over to Clark for occupancy. For example, my main projects recently have been: designing a coffee shop, walk-in cooler, redesign faculty lounge and redesign science department entry. So fun, real, everyday college environment. That benefits so many.

 

What does Jomar do for me as a service dog?

Imagine having a dog that could turn on lights, pick up dropped keys or open a door. Canine Companions for Independence Service Dogs are partnered with adults with physical disabilities to assist with daily tasks and increase independence by reducing reliance on other people. A Service Dog can pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, push buttons for elevators or automatic doors, and even assist with business transactions by transferring money, receipts, and packages.

A CCI Service Dog not only assists with physical tasks, but also provides social support. During a two-week training session, participants learn how to effectively handle an assistance dog to maximize use of the 40 commands.

Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, arthritis and cerebral palsy.

For me personally Jomar does:

–         Picks up things I drop such as: my phone, writing device, cash, change, lunch box, credit cards, papers, and many others

–         Hit outside elevator buttons with his nose.

–         Push open doors.

–         Get others if I need help.

–         Last but not least, help me pick-up ladies(his favorite).