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Podcast Details

In this inaugural episode of Disability Deep Dives, we are joined by Tyler Wesley, who is known as an influencer and inspirational speaker in the disability community. Tyler speaks about his experience with a rollover crash that left him as a quadriplegic at age 15, his amazing grit and perseverance, and how he and his support system navigate the complexities of living with a disability.

Transcript

Damian (00:16):
All right. Hey, good morning, evening. Wherever you’re listening to this OB, when yours are healthy and doing well during these kinds of strange times, we live in an increasingly complex world. Now it’s filled with numerous bureaucracies hurdles, roadblocks. So you compound that regular perplexing everyday life and navigating that same life experience experiencing a disability you have, but it’s really confusing, perhaps it’s intentionally. So resources exist at a first wouldn’t be on one’s radar, amazing programs, tremendous organizations, dedicated individuals exist and are committed to de-mystify and navigate this world. But how do you access it’s our job at Wawa to help our first guest really encapsulates that he has just a lot of grit and perseverance needed to tackle these trials. It’s hard work, and I can’t stress this enough. His hard work and determination have allowed them to be successful in conquering many of these challenges. And just personally, it’s been a real honor to see this guy grow up and become quite a mench. Tyler, T Wes, how are you

Tyler (01:31):
Doing well? Thank you.

Damian (01:33):
Cool. Well, thank you for joining us today. Let’s so let’s start back. So I met you when you were probably 15 or 16, you were involved in a pretty catastrophic crash,
Tyler (01:48):
Pretty, pretty crazy rollover car accident. I was a passenger.

Damian (01:53):
And then, and then how does that work going forward? So you go to Craig hospital and we’re in Colorado. So you go to Craig,

Tyler (01:58):
Right? Yes. when I first was involved in the rollover cards and then back when I was 15, in 2012 it was the end of my sophomore year in high school. And we were going to go study at a bloody house back back in the day. And car kind of rolled over four times and life was unexpected from that point on. And just like that, a blink of an eye. I fractured my neck in my cervical spine and was instantly paralyzed from the shoulders down, which resulted with me being a quadriplegic and having a spinal cord injury. So I was then admitted to Denver health where they became mediate surgery from the front in the back of my neck. And I was there for a couple of days. And I was then transported Craig hospital, which they’re one of the top rehab build stations in the country for spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. So I was there for at least four months doing, you know, PTLT and back then I had nothing from the shoulders down then later at the time, G-tube all that. And, but I just stayed motivated and my mom was there being my biggest advocate to kind of what my future would be like from that point on. So,

Damian (03:28):
And your mom has quite a story herself. I mean, your mom could have a podcasts written about her. Oh yeah, definitely. I mean, just to briefly she escaped the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia killing fields came over here to start a new life.

Tyler (03:41):
Yes. Amazing, amazing strong woman.

Damian (03:43):
So it’s in your blood, it’s in your DNA?

Tyler (03:46):
Yes, definitely. She takes a lot of that acknowledgement of who I am as a person. So,

Damian (03:52):
Yeah. So when people, when people talk about where on the spine is like the lower, the number, the more severe, like, so when, when they talk about those parts of the injury, what does, what does that mean? What do you what’s happening with your spine?

Tyler (04:08):
Right. So mine’s a pretty high injuries since it was in my neck. So usually people who have a spinal cord injury, if they’re kind of higher in the neck, that’s kind of most severe. So that’s your cervical spine, which goes from like C1 to C7.
Damian (04:27):
Okay. So C one would be the most extreme, right?

Tyler (04:30):
Yeah. That’s kinda like right at your brain STEM. So that’s the most severe could be life, life, you know, life-threatening cause that kind of controls your whole, you know, nerve cells and your diaphragm and all that. So mine was C4 and that’s a pretty high injury. So I was instantly paralyzed from the shoulders down and kind of throughout these years just PT and OT, really trying to regain those muscles fire back and, you know, connect the brain to the nerves, the function again. And so and then people who break their backs or like T 12, T 11 they’re usually paralyzed from the waist down. So those are like paraplegics. So yeah, my was a pretty high cervical injury. Okay.
Damian (05:29):
So when you we’ll get to some of the PT and OT, cause I don’t want to downplay how much you work. So I remember somehow, well, let’s get to that. So you were at Denver health and then you’re at Craig for X amount of months. You’re at Denver health and they’re instant surgery, then you’re back at Craig and you’re going through occupational therapy. You’re going through physical therapy, even speech, even speech cognitively initially at the beginning of the accident, like cognitively, there was a concern about where you’d be. Right. Yeah. But

Tyler (05:58):
I didn’t lose conscious at all during the accident. Which was I was very blessed for that and yeah, nothing cognitively really hurt my brain and just more of a physical injury. So, but yeah, back then I had a, to speech therapy at the time because I was on a ventilator for quite some time and, you know, learning how to talk again and swolling whole foods. Cause I couldn’t do do all that because at that G2 at the time. So,
Damian (06:32):
So the, the ventilators in your, in your going down, you’re like trickier. Okay.

Tyler (06:36):
My throat. Yeah. So I couldn’t talk because it was doing all the breathing for me and but kind of gradually when I was an inpatient, I Craig, I try to just wean off of it and you know, we would put a cap on it to see if I’m able to take independent breaths on my own. So that that’s like a lot just there immensely to just be able to breathe on my own and getting my lungs strong enough. So I didn’t have to rely on that ventilator. You’re relearning all these things. Definitely. Yeah. It’s just a whole new lifestyle.

Damian (07:17):
I hate to say the least. Right. But I mean, like we hear about Craig hospital being like, thank God Craig, hospital’s in our backyard. Thank God about Craig and amazing. Like what makes Craig different? What’s Craig to you
Tyler (07:32):
Definitely. It’s a second home for me. Definitely. They provided me and my family with just so much love and caring to each patient. And for me,

Damian (07:45):
And you feel that like you feel it with the nurses you feel with the therapist?

Tyler (07:48):
Yeah, definitely. And crazy thing is too, because I was one of the youngest ones to be admitted through Craig because only 15 at the time they didn’t really accept patients at young. So I was either going to go to the children’s hospital, but my mom really advocated me to go to Craig to get the best of the best for my certain needs, just who I was before being an athlete and a soccer player. So I’m definitely very fortunate to be going to Craig and still am as an outpatient to get those therapies. But but yeah, it’s felt like a second home to me and all my nurses and techs were very welcoming and they taught my mom how to do all my care and just everything she needs to know from that point on came back home and back into the real life. Like

Damian (08:47):
I think at Craig, you have people that are like the new people. They’re like quote unquote new people they’ve been there for 20 years. Like the culture there is amazing. Like people don’t want to leave. No,

Tyler (08:56):
It’s definitely, it’s so much history there and people I’ve met, who’s been there 30, 40 plus years. Yeah.
Damian (09:05):
Well, while we’re on the topic of Craig, could you talk about your peer mentorship there kind of how you’re giving back?

Tyler (09:11):
Yes. being an outpatient now I wanted to become a volunteer and went through all the courses for that to get certified and to become a peer mentor for those newly injured patients. Which of course I can relate from being very young and most of the guys there in gals, they’re, you know, they’re teenage premiers and they’re had their whole life ahead of them. And they can really relate to me just who I was before and my outcome and progression from today. And they could really have a, just a heartfelt moment for me to kinda teach them and just everything I’ve learned and help them navigate this new world for them and new lifestyle because you’ve been through it. Right. So it’s very, very rewarding for me to kind of mentor them and never give up and just keep going. What

Damian (10:19):
Do you, did you have a mentor when you were there at 15?
Tyler (10:21):
No. So they, yeah, they didn’t really have this peer mentor program. It’s recently new a couple of years, but yeah, mainly there’s mostly people older than me. Of course I was pretty much the youngest one. And then I have a peer mentor kind of system going, but now they have like a class where it’s mainly for those younger inpatients, the pilots and, and you know, cause we’re teenagers and we, we want to still live life in get back into reality. So I’m glad they started that. But yeah, I did not have anyone, but I think that would have been so helpful if I kind of had someone to lean on at the time.
Damian (11:09):
Yeah. I mean, your experience would be different than a 47 year old guy.

Tyler (11:14):
Right. All right.

Damian (11:16):
Okay. So we’re at Craig. We’re, we’re going through this and now you, you leave, you leave Craig hospital, you’re going to go live with your mom, right? You’re a kid you’re you’re 15 years old, maybe 16 at the time. 15.
Tyler (11:28):
Yeah. Actually turned 16 in at Craig on that next month in June. So yeah.
Damian (11:36):
Right. Okay. So you go home. What happens there? What did your mom have to do? Like give me your house. I can’t imagine it’s completely accessible. Like your whole, like, do you have to move?

Tyler (11:50):
Yeah, that was an option. My mom had to side as well. If we wanted to move from, you know, my childhood house that I grew up in with my sister as well and or do modifications and my mom acted really early. While I was inpatient at Craig, before I got discharged to kind of reach out and find other resources where people can help to do modifications and build ramps and stuff like that. So that’s where,

Damian (12:27):
Yeah. Did sh I mean, your mom, I don’t know this, but she probably didn’t know any of this stuff about accessibility or disabilities. I mean, this is all brand new to your mom. Yeah.
Tyler (12:37):
She knew nothing about, yeah, it’s just a whole new profession.

Damian (12:42):
So 2012, does she go to the internet? Does she have friends? Are there people like Craig that help her?
Tyler (12:48):
So mainly she did a whole lot of researching on our own. So just being the person that she is, she wanted the best for me and did a lot of research. And Craig gave us some insight, but I’m kind of not to an extent where she would have to be doing more of the looking up stuff to help me. But yeah, she kind of just searched for all these non-profits and foundations that help me to get back to life. And so definitely it’s a big part on her being the aggregate. So

Damian (13:32):
Yeah. Mama bear, mama lion. She’s taking care of her kid. I mean like, so you come back the house isn’t done. So, so you have to do the modification to the house, so you have to make it more accessible. So what are some of the things that you guys do to do that?

Tyler (13:48):
Yeah, so my mom found this foundation called the home home builders foundation and they provide ramps and make accessible showers and you have to pay X no all for free. And those volunteers that help and then there’s a construction guy that kind of helps them and guides them what to do and whether to paint the deck or ramp. And it’s all.
Damian (14:17):
Yeah. What a great program. Yeah,

Tyler (14:19):
It’s definitely, I want to want to be able to get in, into my house without the home builders foundation. And that’s when they made a ramp for my front entrance. And since my room was upstairs at a time, because we’re living in a second, a two story house. So we had to find a way where they can either get me upstairs with some sorta C lift or something. But we were able to convert actually half of my garage into kinda my own suite area.

Damian (14:57):
You’re like the Fonz right in the garage over the cars, or is it over the cars or just in the garage,

Tyler (15:03):
It’s just how to grab it. And there’s just a wall there. So my mom’s not able to park her car in there and stuff, but it doesn’t even, you know, it’s just, it looks like part of the living room inside my house. They did a really good job and created a walk-in shower right by my room too. So we did have a bathroom in there at the time, but they modified that to a roll in shower and bathroom area or

Damian (15:32):
Cool on builders foundation. So we’ll put that on the website too. And then somehow what’s the timeframe of the Chanda plan? Yes.

Tyler (15:43):
Not too sure on the timeline, but I’d say found out about the channel plan and then I was able to yeah. Get a massage and acupuncture chiropractic here and all that. And then Shanda was also a good help to my mom and myself or these other resources to navigate. So

Damian (16:09):
We’ll put all their information out at the end of this so we can put all there on the, so the Chanda plan and then Chanda plan you’re there. And then the chain of plan tells you about this place called Pasco. Yes, that’s us, right?

Tyler (16:23):
Yes. yeah, Pascoe it’s, it’s been great for me and my mom and just her doing all my care for me and someone that I know and not just some random stranger coming into my home, which for me at the time, Ellis, you know, very young and yeah. Insecure at the time and just getting out of my prime teenage years and just, you know, they didn’t want to expose, you know, myself to people and doing my care, but heard about Pascoe and got enrolled with them and got certified and trained to be my CNA. And yeah, it’s been, the rest has been history eight years.

Damian (17:12):
So your mom gets with Pascoe. Okay. And I’m trying to think if I met you and I want to say correct me if I’m wrong, like you were, you say you’re a C4, but you were you at a sip and puff. So you had it on your chair. You had like a straw or something like a straw that would help move you. Yeah.
Tyler (17:31):
It’s called a sip and puff. So that’s how I navigate in my wheelchair just by blowing and sucking through that straw. So yeah. And

Damian (17:44):
Go ahead. No, no, go ahead.

Tyler (17:46):
Yeah. So just navigating from that, to where I am today. Yeah.
Damian (17:52):
And how did you come to the office today? I forgot I’m looking at it right now, but I forgot. How did you come to the office today? Well, you came in, in a seven puffs. I walked in. You walked in. I was, I guess, you know, part of the thing about you, which I think is, you know, I like th there’s an inspiration inspiring, but I think you would look at me and say, screw you. I’m not inspiring. I work really hard. So I think we go back to pre Tyler. Pre-Injury you’re, you’re an amazing athlete. You play, soccer’s your game, right? American football, American soccer here. So that’s your game. You, you have friends that have gone on to play professionally. Yes. But I mean, I would have to think you worked hard before most definitely. So this was a new to you when you’re going to peak center peak centers at Craig, right?

Tyler (18:43):
Yeah. This was not new to me. I knew my body so well and knew how to train. Definitely it was a physical and mental thing too, and to get the best and be a professional athlete, but yeah, since I had that background, that’s really what helped my recovery at the time at Craig and throughout these years to get back on my feet again. So yeah. So Steph,
Damian (19:14):
What kind of stuff is involved in that? Like, I, I can go to Craig and I can look at those and you show me some of these machines, like what kind of stuff are you doing at Craig

Tyler (19:21):
Peak center? Yeah, so they have all types of different technology there to help people get back on their feet and all these robotic legs and stimulation bikes. And so an immense amount of therapy. I did pretty much every day. They had a schedule for us and just one hour after an not another hour, I always had something to go to, whether it be PT, OT, speech nursing, or these classes where they kind of navigate you, how to, you know, transfer into a car airplane stuff. And just all that. So yeah. In the peak center, I started on this called this locomotive kind of treadmill. So they kind of hook up your legs with these robotic legs and they kind of help you assist on the treadmill, like blade runner, right? Yeah. It’s definitely, definitely made me feel like iron man or in the future. Yeah, they have just so much equipment there.

Damian (20:38):
And then is that hooked up to diagnostic tool? I mean, are they
Tyler (20:43):
To a computer and you can track your, you know, level of steps or how much are you actively doing it or is it the machine? And yeah, that’s all programs. So,
Damian (20:58):
And like, so I, when I work out, I need to have all those metrics. Right. It tells me how many calories. So like when you’re going, you know, all those things that I just need for myself. But like, when you’re doing this at Craig, is it telling you like, cause you’re working. I mean, this is not like something done at the gym. This is like, you’re like you went from the sip and pop, which is pretty extreme to the other extreme. Right. Not extreme, but like pretty amazing transformation. Yeah. I think you’re downplaying out hardly work. Like how much are you sweating? How much like, how much work is this? Oh my gosh. It’s did you ever cry? Just like our throw up. I mean, any kind of those things where you’re just so exhausted?

Tyler (21:38):
Not too much. I really had you know, I think the main thing for me was kind of my strong support system and all my friends visiting me as well, my soccer buddies and my mom always being there and just pushing me to, you know, never give up as well. And I just never had kind of fell into that deep hole of depression or anything like that. And but I just kinda always, I did have my, you know, down days mainly at night time, so I’m in the hospital, but for the most part the texts and PTs and OTs, I created really pushed me. So they were another resource who really helped me with my pre-K progression. Just really pushed you in just they don’t, they don’t let you, they, they don’t say no to anything. So.
Damian (22:39):
All right. And you already had this athletic, I mean, like, I think that’s the thing with you is like, you already knew how to work hard. Like you weren’t afraid of this. Right. And you were just there today. Like before you came here, you were at Greg today. It’s like, this is ongoing, right?

Tyler (22:52):
Yeah. It still is. And definitely it’s an everyday thing where I just gotta push myself and but yeah, but back then going from a sip and puff and just the first thing that moved for me, I can remember was my right toe and that’s that’s, that was such a huge celebration for my family and I, and just those little things. And then let ups, you know, me taking independent steps and going from a [inaudible] to like a foot drive wheelchair. And then one way I can maneuver with my right hand
Damian (23:32):
Drive wheelchair

Tyler (23:34):
Yeah. For drives. So I’m able to move more in my lower extremities than my upper extremities. Right. But mainly my right side is the strongest, but they have a wheelchair where it’s almost like a gas and gas and brake, like a car, but on your foot pedal, so able to like push down to go forward and then turn my foot left and right. To turn the wheelchair
Damian (24:01):
It’s electric. Yeah. Okay.

Tyler (24:03):
So yeah, it’s not a lot of people use that, but since my injury was so unique I have more of a central spinal cord injury, so more impairments on the upper extremities than the lower. So my legs were definitely instill is more stronger than my arms and hands. So we started off with that and then once my, I got some movement kind of my right thumb and right hand, I was able to switch from that to a regular joystick wheelchair, which is more common and then progressed to the two wheel Walker and then a four wheel Walker now. And you know, my next step is maybe a cane or no assistance at all.
Damian (24:53):
Cool. Well, I mean, you just work hard. I mean, that’s it. So we’re going to get in, I have a couple more things I wanted to talk to you about. I think one of them would be you’re active in sports before. What do you do now to stay active sports wise?

Tyler (25:08):
I just continue doing therapy and I’m going to recently start at a new gym called new ability actually this week. And I haven’t been back since eight years when I got discharged from Craig and he used to be called sci recovery project. And that’s kinda where I started continue those ongoing therapies and, you know, it’s active exercises. So I’m going to be doing that and also going to the channel plan for massage and acupuncture and at home stuff and also live by my local rec center. So sometimes I go there to do my, like an FES bike or stuff like that.

Damian (25:56):
What about soccer or any programs available?

Tyler (26:00):
There is a league called power soccer and we’re, I’m in a, we’re called a rolling Rapids. So yes, it’s where people with all different types of disabilities, they are in a powered wheelchair and they have these kind of huge cards around your foot, foot plates. And we play on a basketball court and there’s usually four players including the goalie. And we play kind of with these huge inflatable, like 10 times bigger than a regular soccer ball. And then we maneuver our wheelchairs by hitting it with that guard. And it’s almost like bumper cars, but yeah.
Damian (26:50):
Yeah. Bless you. You go like you go for tackles. I mean, there’s things that are equivalent to that you’re going for people’s chairs.
Tyler (26:58):
No, not necessarily. Unfortunately you can’t do that unfortunately,

Damian (27:02):
But yeah.

Tyler (27:05):
But it’s an actual league and it’s an Olympic sport and we hope to grow more here in Denver and kind of expand that more to other individuals who want to get back to a sport and keep playing. So perfect.
Damian (27:19):
Yeah. We’ll have the website for that. What’s it called

Tyler (27:21):
Again? We’re the rolling Rapids and Susa power soccer league.
Damian (27:26):
Cool. Oh, that’s really cool. I love that. All right. Well I know another really cool thing happened again, a lot of hard work what happened recently that you just, you did?

Tyler (27:40):
Yeah, just recently. The end of last year I was able to obtain my license and your pilot’s license, my vehicle license. So yeah, I’m pretty psyched about that. And it’s been a process for the past eight years and to get to where I am today with all the modifications for my van and getting that all improved and just me working hard physically, it just have the strength to operate a vehicle.
Damian (28:16):
Describe that more, the strength it’s taxing. It there’s a lot of stamina involved in that.

Tyler (28:21):
Oh yeah, definitely. Definitely there is. And you know, both people enabled Bali person, you know, they need both arms, but luckily there’s assistive and adaptive technology where individuals with impairments can be able to drive again. And I was fortunate enough to get that all modified for me. And so I was able to get my right arm strong, so I was able to turn the wheel and do all that. And, but my system, my setup is pretty crazy. I can explain that.

Damian (29:04):
Well, I know it’s like a world thing, right? Like it’s like from Israel, from Poland, I mean, like it’s all over the world, this thing. So you described like your insight, it’s like the DeLorean from a back of the future what’s happening in that pain?
Tyler (29:15):
Yes. So my van set up is I drive for my powered wheelchair and I have my keys and then I’m able to press a button and the fold-out ramp comes out and then I kind of roll up into the van and then I go right under the steering wheel and kind of in the floor, there’s kind of this locking mechanisms. So I is a rolling around and I kind of just maneuver and the seatbelt’s already going across. So I’m able to just kinda get my knees under the seatbelt and roll right under it. So everything’s already attached. So I don’t have to worry about reaching across the, get the seatbelt or anything like that. Since I’m not able to, so I’ll get locked in place and, or gas and brake, I’m able to use my right foot, just like a regular person. And then for staring, it’s called an electric steering system. So it’s almost how I operate my joystick in my power chair, but I would move that out the way and put my right arm on it, my right hand and pretty much just turn it left and right. And that would turn the whole steering wheel and for blinkers and stuff, I,

Damian (30:41):
You use your blinkers. I do. Yes, I do. It’s good.
Tyler (30:47):
But yeah, so for blinkers, I have a little left, had switched that I hit, so one beep is a left turn signal, and then I hold it for two beats and that’s a right turn signal. And then three beeps. It could operate like windows and wipers, stuff like that. And then what about

Damian (31:06):
The stereo? The stereo that’s very

Tyler (31:08):
Important. Yes. so there’s also kinda, it’s almost like a little touch touch pad thing where I operated with a mouse thick too. And then there’s different buttons that I can use with that mouse stick, which I grabbed with my mouth and kind of operate, you know, starting the car and adjusting the heater, temperature windows and steering system. Yeah, I was, I wasn’t ready. So,
Damian (31:40):
So this car pretty, pretty affordable. I imagine. How did you get, did you have the cash or how did you utilize monies to get this?

Tyler (31:49):
Yes. So definitely did not have the cash to have all this modified. So we did go through it’s called DVR.
Damian (32:02):
Okay. Rehab. Yes. Permanent Voke rehab. Yes.

Tyler (32:06):
Work rehab. And they were able to help Hey for the modifications, but not the van itself. We were responsible for the van, the vehicle. So but the modifications itself and everything that was almost as much, or even more as the van. Yes.

Damian (32:25):
That’s a big lift, right. Like to get that done. Definitely. So

Tyler (32:31):
They were little hasn’t said about, you know, paying for it, but why would there be hesitancy? Just, I mean, it’s a big ask. Right. And plus I was using Access-A-Ride for transportation, but since I’m working now and I had more of a reason why I needed this vehicle. So I just had a really help out speak them and tell them what my needs were and why I needed it and not having to rely on Access-A-Ride come pick me up because you know, they’re always late and I could be waiting in the colon for my spinal cord injury. My w I’m not able to regulate temperature. So just all those reasons were enough.
Damian (33:22):
But again, you had to navigate for yourself. You had to advocate for yourself. You think when you hear from other people, is that pretty usual? I mean, I don’t want to bash DVR, but I mean, like you, you have to advocate for yourself to make the case that you deserve a van.

Tyler (33:38):
Yes. I definitely spoke to a lot of people as well, and kind of the same stories where they just really had to push them and really express what, why I need it and it’s a need. Cool. So but yeah, and plus me working in Pascoe, in outreach, you know, driving to these different locations and you know, most of the time, et cetera, it was late in picking me up or dropping me off there. So that was another reason why I needed that to to work. Yes.
Jason (34:17):
I think it’s kind of important to, cause it’s not a straight path. Right. So you’ve got Craig hospital, you’ve got Chanda, you’ve got Pascoe, you’ve got home builders foundation, DVR, Voke rehab for the vehicle. And who else helped you with the vehicle modification

Tyler (34:34):
That was United access? Yes.
Jason (34:39):
Then you went back to, I believe you went back to Craig for like the, h

Tyler (34:43):
Yeah. So I had to go through an evaluation over at Craig. They have a driving department there to help people get back to driving. So there was a whole evaluation there to to find out what modifications were needed for my ability and
Damian (35:06):
Daunting is that like you, like, you’re so excited to drive and then you find out like, you have to go through this whole qualification, then you have to go through this whole application, like, right. I mean, we’re, where are you in this whole thing? Are you just like, screw it? I’m not going to do it, or,

Tyler (35:19):
Yeah. And most times I wanted to give up, but mom was a big advocate as well with that and just pushing,
Damian (35:31):
She doesn’t want to drive you around anymore. She just, she doesn’t want you to drive you Tyler. Right.

Tyler (35:38):
She wants me to drive her now. So but no, it, it was a long process and a lot of yearly evaluations that I go to Craig to see I’m getting stronger and stuff like that. So that’s another point if you’re increasing in your ability and you think you’re able to get behind a steering wheel. And so yeah, almost, or over eight years to get to that point,

Damian (36:11):
When you decided to do it, I mean, they didn’t take eight years to get your life, but like from the deciding that I’m going to get a car. So when you put the keys in the ignition and you started the first time, how many, how long was that months? Two years. Three years.
Tyler (36:22):
I’d say yeah. At least, or, okay.

Damian (36:26):
Okay. Yeah. So you knew as possible and then you had to do all these things to get there and now you’re there.

Tyler (36:32):
Yeah.

Damian (36:34):
How’s your picture on your license?

Tyler (36:38):
You’re

Damian (36:38):
A handsome guy. You’re handsome. Yeah. You’re welcome. All right, cool. Yeah. Completely. Well, all right. And we’re going to get them to work. So Jason’s looking for rides all the time. Yeah. I’ll take a ride whenever. Yeah. You’ll get, I’m more confident after the snow goes, he’ll drive her a year.

Tyler (36:57):
Definitely.

Damian (36:59):
So you’re now you’re working, you’re working with us at Pasco. You’re going out and about, I think your, your your position has increased in probably intensity and responsibility. So before I think what would you do? You would go to places you’d go to join us on things,

Tyler (37:14):
Right? Yes. Different galas, different, you know?

Tyler (37:21):
Yeah. Different 5k walks where we had a booth and yeah. The one thing speaking to other families, can you just have an event on Friday? What was that one? Yeah, that was another fun one was with the global down syndrome and there, I love you dance party. That’s fun. So yeah, I went last year in person. But unfortunately it was virtual this time of course. And we were the presenting sponsor. So I was able to talk about pallets, going a little bit about my story with Patrick and yeah, that was great.
Damian (38:05):
So having a role, whether it’s with Postgre or not how does that work? You have you’re on Medicaid. Yes. So, so to, to successfully keep your Medicaid, what does that mean for work?
Tyler (38:19):
Right. It means formula. There is there is a threshold of course, you know, where I’m not able to make over that amount each month or else that will, you know, reduce my SSI or stuff like that. And but luckily there’s other programs and that I’m able to make more for that. So,
Damian (38:50):
Well, that’s the goal, right? At the end of the day, if you can get the buy-in for working adults with disabilities in Medicaid. So that’s the goal, I mean, to make some more money than, yeah. So that’s the goal. Right. Cool. So you’re starting a new thing. You’re working with a couple of different clients. You have a new car, and then I think we’re going to end on a couple of things, but like you were mentioning one of the last times I talked to, you were saying you were starting a process to maybe get a guide dog. I don’t know where that is about anywhere.

Tyler (39:20):
Yeah. That’s, that’s been delayed a little bit for a service dog.
Damian (39:26):
But

Tyler (39:28):
Service, I guess

Damian (39:30):
We’ll do that in post off post production. We’ll change that.

Tyler (39:34):
Cool. but yeah it’s still in the works, but hopefully when I’m on my own and my next, you know, goals to own a house, that’d be awesome to have a service dog to help me with things, you know, to pick up or open doors, light switches.

Damian (39:56):
Yeah. No, I mean, they’re, they’re amazing. We have to talk about going viral, going viral. Yeah. How many followers do you have on Tik Tok? No followers. Yeah.
Tyler (40:12):
No, not, not too big on that yet. Instagram over 45 K

Damian (40:20):
45,000 followers. Yeah. So, all right. W what was the catalyst that you know, got, got all that attention towards you besides your awesome work as is being cool hair? Well, the hair got 38,000 followers and then Tyler himself, that’s seven.

Tyler (40:39):
Oh man. Yeah. So how that all went down was I posted a video of myself walking independently with our, any senses assistance at all. Just in my backyard, on my deck. And it was on my five-year anniversary of my accident, and I just wanted to post it on Twitter about my progression to my followers. And, you know, back then I only had a couple of thousand people and I’m on Twitter. Yeah. And Instagram. And but the video just blew up within minutes and got over a million views. And just so many people were reaching out to me going through the same situation, whether it be their boyfriend or girlfriend, they know a family member with spinal cord injury and just everything I’ve done to get to where I am back on my feet and everything, you know, I’d done in therapy to get the most strongest that I can be.

Damian (41:49):
Okay. Well, you work, you work at it. And you’re pretty, you’re pretty humble. You still have this hum humility, which is nice. I don’t know what you do. All right.

Tyler (41:59):
Thank you. Yes, it’s definitely. It’s all about your mindset in how you want to get stronger and you know, you can’t just lay around and give up and not, not hope for anything that’s going to be in the future. So you gotta work, gotta work for it and work hard.

Damian (42:19):
Cool. All right, buddy. You’ll come back. You’ll tell us how this going with the house and the dog.

Tyler (42:24):
Oh, well that’s, that’s the next, that’s the next show.

Damian (42:27):
So, yeah. Cool. All right, brother. Thank you. Thank you guys. Thanks. All right.

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Wah Wah Wah Podcast Staff