Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Hospital

After staying at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for 2 weeks, I was informed that I would be moving to another hospital to begin therapy. The doctor told me that I would be transported via ambulance. I waited patiently for the ambulance to come. I waited for almost 2 hours. They finally came and placed me on the gurney.  I thought to myself, “What the hell took these guys so long? Is this how long it takes to get to an emergency?”

                When they took me outside it felt great. It felt like months since I breathed air that wasn’t air-conditioned and felt the warmth of the sun on my skin. I slept during the ride and we ended up in Long Beach at the Miller’s Children Hospital. I was then brought into my room and was later greeted by two pediatricians. Dr. Wang, and Dr. Biddell. I wasn’t too fond of Dr. Biddell since she resembled me of my elementary school principal.

                 They began to talk to me and told me a summary of what I would be doing there and the rules. I would be attending and participating in a plethora of various therapies, was going to have my vitals taken every 4 hours and that if I ever got out of bed, I was to wear a gate-belt, helmet and be supervised or escorted by an authorized adult. They were aware of the incident at the previous hospital of me falling and told me that If I tried something like that, they would get me a bed with a fence surrounding it. I didn’t like the idea of me being on a schedule like school, nor did I like the idea of nurses annoying me throughout the day. At this point, I still had the cocky, independent teenager in me and frowned upon the helmet and constant supervision.

                The room had more benefits in comparison to the previous hospital. It actually had walls instead of curtains ensuing more privacy. I had a television that I could actually control and a call button to call the nurses if I ever needed anything. It felt better, but boy was I wrong.

What the Hell Am I Doing Here

Subsequently a couple hours after the fall, I was later brought to get a CT scan of my brain, and for a second I looked up at the wall and saw two balloons, I then daydreamed that two women were fighting over the balloons all of the sudden I began to shake uncontrollably. It was like I had been electrocuted. I was aware and shaking but I could not stop it. I had not known it was a seizure until one of the nurses grabbed ahold of me and alarmed the doctor that I was having a seizure.

I was forced by my parents and doctors to lie in bed for days which I normally wasn’t used to. I utterly despised not being active. Fuck being sedentary. My summer was not dedicated to fun, but training. The entire summer I had been exercising two to three times a day in order to improve my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. There was a television at the hospital and all I would watch was UFC Dvd’s. My friends would sometimes visit me. Their initial facial expressions said, “Damnnn,”or “Shit, I feel bad for you,” but the one I enjoyed the most was, “Shit Gabe, You look fucked up!” I enjoyed their company more than the depressing and worried faces of my family members. They all told me of what had happened but it wasn’t until later on that my mind was able enough to fit all the pieces together. They were the only ones who could make me feel “normal,” instead of being seen as “a patient, son, brother or cousin.”

That Day...

                The morning of August 8th, 2010 seemed like any regular summer morning, but it wasn’t. On this morning I would be attending Mass with my friend Ryan to commemorate our friend, Reed Hanley who died due to skating without a helmet.


              After Mass, I went to go hangout with my friends Angelo and William. That was the last memory I recall from that day. I can’t really recall what happened afterwards, but I was confused in a hospital bed and my family surrounding me with worried, yet somewhat happy looks on their faces.

                I never realized I had been in a near death crash until I was informed by my family a couple days after I had been extubated and woken from my induced coma. It turns out I was in a coma for a week. Boom… time travel. My only memories from being in the ICU were seeing my friends and family, eating tacos, taking medicine, constantly seeing medical personnel and making strenuous efforts to relieve my bladder. For some peculiar reason, I could not urinate. I don’t know whether it was my position, or brain, or medications, but I just couldn’t and I even tried to stand to pee into the urinal cup. When I stood, I knew then that something was definitely wrong. My balance was off and my legs trembled to something as simple as standing. My legs gave way and I crumbled to the floor and all of the sudden it became a huge situation to the people and staff around me. I was carefully escorted back into my bed and I was sad at my unsuccessful attempt to relieve myself.

                You may think to yourself, “Why is he talking about his attempt to take a piss? Gross.” Too bad. IDGAF. The fact of the matter is, this is the point where I realized the severity of my injury. Although I had years of martial arts training, all of the sudden I had no leg strength and balance. And after I fell, the immediate and worried response of the nurses and my family alarmed me. All I could think about in bed was “What happened to the big, strong fighter I knew myself as?” Something definitely bad happened to me.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


My name is Gabriel Alconcel and I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. I was downhill skating in San Pedro, California on August 8th, 2010 and I unfortunately fell. I was wearing a helmet, yet my head and brain sustained life threatening injuries. I survived and this is the story of my recovery back to my old self. I titled this blog, “Lector Et Emergo,” because I had seen it as the Facebook status of one of my friends. I knew it was Latin because I had taken Latin class at school but I was still curious and decided to Google it. It translated to, “I Struggle and Emerge.” I thought to myself, this Latin phrase fit my situation completely! And… I also thought it would be a pretty badass tattoo. Thanks Gabbi ;]

I am writing this blog because I was influenced by another traumatic brain injury survivor named Dorian Hargrove. He also has a blog ( I began to read his and thought to myself… this is pretty cool. I thought it would be an interesting read for my future self, my friends, fellow skaters, fellow survivors, my future kids and as a sort of therapy. Besides, what else am I supposed to do since I can’t be as physically active as I used to? I am going to write EVERYTHING about this low point in my life and my goal is to re-read this in a year and see how far I’ve come since that day.