Yes, I will share my story with you. On March 9th, 2011, I was working on a motion picture in Hollywood and the day ran very late at our studio…until 2:45 am, in fact. I was very sleepy and dying to get to my house in Toluca Lake on the other side of the Santa Monica mountains and, against my better judgement, I hopped in my vintage Porsche convertible which had no air bags and proceeded to race up Highland Blvd. as I normally do.
The farthest I got was to the intersection at Franklin when I fell asleep going 90 mph. I spun 180 degrees and finally came to a stop when my car slammed sideways into the curb and bounced up into at the light pole. It folded around me, pinning my body in the driver’s seat between the car and the pole. My head was halfway through the windshield when I awoke looking up at the stars overhead thinking,
“This is my last moment.” As I waited for the next fifteen minutes, with collapsed lungs and severe cuts on my forehead bleeding profusely, I felt my breathing coming to a stop. I tried very hard to just hold on with sheer will to survive. Finally, fire trucks and squad cars began arriving. A fireman walked up to me to see if I was alive and I replied, “Oh, thank god! Get me out of here. I want to live.” With that he pulled out the jaws of life, which sounded like a chainsaw, and walked towards me. Due to the nature of my business and my wild imagination, combined with the traumatic state of shock I was in, I envisioned the man chopping me into pieces and reassembling me later at the hospital. Which terrified me. So I yelled, “Nooo! Please stop! Let me die!” With that utterance, I collapsed.
Thankfully, I was still alive and they transported me to the hospital to be operated on and placed on life support. I died when I arrived at the E.R. at Cedars Sinai hospital in West Hollywood, California. They used electric paddles to bring me back to life. I was dead for a three-minute stretch. They had to operate and remove my spleen as I had massive internal injuries and a belly full of blood. I died again and they brought me back with blood transfusions. It took two weeks to stitch my stomach closed as it was massively swollen. The team of specialists placed me in a medically-induced coma for two weeks so they could operate almost daily. My family members, who had flown in from all over the world to say their final goodbyes, spoke to me. They played classical music to me, told me stories, told me to stop biting my tracheal tubes and to “just breathe,” all of which I heard and remember to this day. I almost died one more time on a sunday night in the ICU when they were trying to remove infection from my lungs. My wife was sitting there and watched me code. She and my mom sat and prayed together by my bedside. Before I eventually awoke from my coma, I heard my wife’s voice saying, “You promised you’d never leave me.” Then and there I made the decision to return to this world. When I awoke from my coma, my wife was leaning over me saying, “There’s been an accident. Everything is okay. You are at the ICU at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles California. I am here, your parents are here, your uncles and your sister are here. Everybody’s here. I love you. Everybody loves you and everything is going to be okay. Rest.”
With that, I closed my eye, only one eye would close at that time and I believed I was going to have to hunt down a real sexy and dangerous eye patch to wear the rest of my life. I slept there in the ICU for a total of six weeks with hundreds of friends, fans and people who I had never met sending me get-well cards and messages of encouragement. It’s weird how the power of people you don’t know can drive you to work hard to recover in moments like that.
My injuries were vast. Collapsed lungs, kidney failure which required dialysis every other day, left hip shattered, right femur broken and seated with a titanium rod. I suffered an abrasion to my left eye, traumatic brain injury to my frontal lobe (which caused all sorts of temporary disabilities), my spleen was ruptured and removed causing numerous infections for six months, the entire left side of my body was paralyzed (probably the most frightening), I had a tracheotomy, and I was fitted with feeding tubes so I could eat because I mentally was unable to do it for myself which resulted in the loss of eighty pounds at the rate of three pounds a week. I was unable to sit up for two months and, on that day, it took three therapists to lift my shoulders and push my back so I could sit. Two weeks later I finally could sit on the edge of the bed for 5 minutes. Then ten. Then another ten, and so on until I tried to stand and was able to stand for ten seconds. Then thirty seconds. Then fifty. Then a full glorious minute. Each new threshold I broke through sent me into a whirlwind of emotions and hope that I was finally making breakthroughs to get back to life.the next week I took my first eight steps to the hospital door. Cried. Then twenty feet into the hall. Cried, too. Fifty feet. One hundred feet. All feet to be followed by waves of emotion. I asked the doctors why and they told me it was symptomatic of my brain injury. Other simple things like putting on a t-shirt or doing basic math became impossible for me. However, eventually it all came back.
On the 4th of June, my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary, I went outside for the first time and felt the warm California air and sunshine on my face. My face and body which hadn’t been out of the sterile environment of the hospital since March 9th. It was bliss and I had even managed to buy a silver feather necklace from my nurse who made them as a side job without my wife knowing it. Yes, through all the Hell and trauma I was still able to surprise her with an Anni-Birthday gift. By the time I was discharged from the rehab unit in the hospital, it was July fifteenth and I had worked through my paralysis. I still had a severed urethra, shattered hip and broken pelvis and sacral fractures, open wound with a vacuum pump attached to my stomach, and multiple infections that required my wife to get me twenty seven medications to be taken at different times, with meals and without meals, etc. I spent the next four months with a hospital bed in my living room and all the doors taken off my rooms in the house so I could move about in my wheelchair. Therapists and nurses made daily visits to my house to help me work on walking and strength training. I had my hip replaced November tenth and was told I can play tennis and ski again in another five months. I graduated from my wheelchair to a walker immediately after the hip replacement. Then I worked my way up to a pair of crutches for eight weeks until, on Christmas morning, I decided to stand and walk to the bedroom and back. We face-timed video to my family so they could see it. I was also given a smart-looking cane for Christmas which I am using now. I feel that in two more weeks the cane will be nothing more than a prop to be used in one of my movies. My weekly routine now consists of therapy sessions where I walk on an anti-gravity treadmill which was developed by NASA for astronauts returning from long stretches orbiting in weightless environments. I also workout with a personal trainer to recover my lost muscle mass two days a week. I’m taking piano lessons to regain the fine motor skills in my left hand. Finally, I am riding an upright bike thirty minutes a day to build my legs backup and re-condition my hip.
The ten-month journey is finally showing a light at the end of the tunnel. I am currently producing two feature films and in development on seven more. One of the films shoots in Oklahoma where we are using the house in which I grew up on Drury lane as one of our main locations. When that happens, it will be a true homecoming where I get back to my whole self again. One last thing I would like to share is that my lovely, talented wife Lauree has been by my side producing my recovery every step of the way and she is the one who really deserves all the credit.
So, that’s the story. I hope It inspires you to know that we’re capable of anything we put our full intention behind. Have a great day.