Life in the Land of “IS”: The Amazing Story of Lani Deauville, The World’s Longest-Living Quadriplegic, as told to Bette Lee Crosby, is the story of Lani Deauville who did not have an easy upbringing. Raised along with two half siblings, by a divorced mother, made life very difficult. Her abusive father caused the family to become financially destitute when he stole everything and left them. Early on, Lani learned to fend for herself, and many times she ended up being her mother’s caregiver. Having an independent streak that perhaps she inherited from her Apache father, Lani enjoyed exploring the natural surroundings around her with her beloved dog and horse. Tough times forced her to have to have to give them up. Lani had a tremendous love for animals and any time she had to part with one, it was devastating.
Lani also had a competitive streak and while she was in school, she became a champion diver. A horrible diving accident caused Lani to become a quadriplegic. Instead of letting it hold her back, Lani did everything in her power to regain whatever abilities she could. During this time she had some fantastic people enter her life including a couple of doctors, nurses and an EMT. These people also helped her deal with a system that was broken. When funding would run out from one source, they would come up with an alternative plan. It was really sad that this had to be.
Realizing that she would need to return to school to be able to have any kind of career, Lani finished her GED, and then attended a non-wheelchair accessible community college. Not letting this dissuade her, Lani graduated and continued on with her education, while seeking a school that was accessible to wheelchairs. Following her desire to work with others, Lani planned on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Nearing the end of this, her life took her in a different direction and she ended up teaching at a college.
From there she got involved with Vocational Rehabilitation in the state of Florida. Having personally experienced how flawed this program was, Lani set out to change it, and she made wonderful changes for those with disabilities who needed the services. Having received many awards, including one from President Ford, Lani’s life ended up taking her in a different direction when she and her husband adopted a little boy. Raising her son, in a loving home, brought Lani the happiness that she had always been seeking.
Reading Life in the Land of IS was incredibly inspiring for me. As a college counselor/instructor for students with disabilities I learned a lot. Lani taught me to do the best that I can for my students so that they can do the best that they can for themselves and become productive members of society. Their disabilities should not hold them back. As a human being, Lani’s life story taught me to live in the moment, which is in the land of IS. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but no matter what we have to make the most of what we have now.
I highly recommend this book to persons with disabilities, teachers, medical professionals, and vocational rehabilitation counselors. It will change how you look at your job and inspire you to do more.