[edit] I also just realized there's a typo in my title, haha. I meant it to say "I blew up my face," sorry about that. One eye problems...

Hey everyone, my name is Chad Hoku. I’m turning 33 in a month and had just turned 27 at the time of the accident. I don’t use reddit much and didn’t even know what an AMA was until my fiance suggested I do one. I guess what happened to me was pretty one of a kind so let’s give it a go.

I've linked a picture of me after I was discharged from the hospital as proof, plus some before and after photos once I had finished all the surgeries to fix my face (one is with my prosthetic eye and the other with my favorite eyepatch). WARNING: The hospital discharge one is pretty gnarly.

Discharge

Before

After

Hi reddit Proof

Here’s a quick breakdown of the accident so I don’t get a bunch of “how did it happen?” questions.

I make props/costumes for a living and I work for myself at home. While I was using a pressure casting chamber the lid failed and it exploded while I was checking the pressure gauge on it. The lid broke into a bunch of pieces and hit me in the face. I was alone at the time, but I was able to find help outside before going into shock. The doctor believes the only reason I’m still alive is because of the severe migraines I’ve had since early childhood, which resulted in me having an abnormally high pain threshold. Under normal circumstances, he said I should have immediately vomited, gone into shock, passed out and bled to death.

My injuries in no particular order: My left eye ruptured, my nose, left orbital socket, left orbital floor, left upper jaw, and left maxilla were broken, my left nostril was almost cut off, I had a huge gash on my forehead that was deep enough to cut into my skull and I was diagnosed with post-concussive disorder.

That’s the short version! I’m still a prop/costume maker and I’ve tried to make the best out of my accident and now make light-up and other weird prosthetic eyes for myself. I also advocate for other people who are handicapped but are afraid to cosplay.

Anyways, feel free to ask me anything and I mean anything. Nothing is off-limits, I’ve literally had trolls on Twitch ask me if they could “f*ck my eyehole” so at this point I don’t think anything will surprise me anymore.

And before you think about asking to f*ck my eyehole just realize it's not even an inch deep. :P

Comments: 64 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

BooksNchocolate818 karma

Dude. Dang. Crazy story. I admire how you moved forward from when it happened and being able to find help to now. I've heard if you lose your vision as an adult, its a huge adjustment to learn how to do things with no depth perception. Did you experience this added challenge amid recovery?

Hokuprops10 karma

Thank you, I was honestly just happy to be alive, haha.

It was definitely a huge adjustment, one that I still struggle with to this day. During recovery, it was super disorienting and it took a long time for my body to acclimate to it. For instance, it's very different from when someone just closes one eye for a long period of time, though you can kinda get a feeling for the loss of depth perception that way.

BooksNchocolate87 karma

That is really interesting to hear. I can understand on a small scale. I was born completely blind in my left eye. (Don't see black, blurry, etc it's nothing) Sometimes I feel too sighted and not sighted enough and still manage to bruise my blind side when I'm tired. Hah. Has the accident stopped you from doing anything you used to be able to do? And is there any chance your brain injuries will improve over time?

Hokuprops11 karma

I'm sorry to hear that, but I totally feel you on bruising your blindside haha, I run into shit on the daily.

Hmmm... I really suck at catch now... In all seriousness, one thing that really bummed me out is not being able to read as much? I used to every day, but now my eye gets fatigued too easily and I end up not being able to do work. So I've had to switch to audiobooks, that way I don't waste all my eye energy and still get to enjoy books.

I also, and I'm sure you experience this as well, can't see 3D. I didn't get a chance to ride the new Star Tours at Disneyland before my accident so I didn't get to experience it in all its 3D glory. On the plus side, I never have to spring the extra cash to see 3D movies?

Sadly, the doctors say there is no guarantee that it'll improve, but who knows, the brain is crazy. The extent of the damage was to my short term memory and my concentration, so it's at least manageable.

BooksNchocolate83 karma

The catch thing made me chuckle. Around dusk it's especially difficult for some reason and the glow in the dark balls don't work! 😂 But I completely understand what you mean about reading. It's my favorite thing to do but it does take a lot of energy for sure. For me, more light helps. A spot with bright natural light helps the most!

I can see how the 3D thing would be a huge bummer. We do save the big bucks lol. When my husband wants to see something in 3D I'll sometimes tag along but it does hurt and fatigued more than reading.

I'm sorry to hear that and you are totally right! The brain is freaking amazing. I wouldn't be surprised if your tactile senses become so much stronger than before. It already sounds like you've gotten creative with finding different ways to do things and I'm sure that strengthens other areas as well. Sorry for all the random questions! I've never had the chance to talk to someone who only has vision in one eye. Especially with the journey you've had. If you decided to have kids in the future it makes for a lot of fun times! Have you had any kiddos see you with one of your awesome prosthetics in??

BooksNchocolate85 karma

Update: showed my kids and husband your LEDs and in their words: "That's the coolest thing ever!! I wonder if the tooth fairy has magical eyes like that!!"

Hokuprops1 karma

Haha, that's awesome! I'm sure the tooth fairy does have light-up eyes! :P

Hokuprops4 karma

Yeah, dusk and at night are the woooorst. I couldn't see in the dark to save my life. My fiance loves going to horror mazes around Halloween, I've run into walls on numerous occasions and the poor actors seem very defeated when they try to sneak up on my left side and I just don't see them. But yeah, light helps a lot but nowadays it's more time so audiobooks have come in handy that way too. :)

I agree, trying to still do 3D things with the one eye is very exhausting.

It's totally fine, I've run into a lot of one-eyed people and we always have lots to talk about.

The misses and I don't plan on kids (other than the fur kind), besides I'm afraid they'd be born with only one eye... Kidding. XD

My 3-year-old nephew understands that I'm missing an eye, he always points and says something like "Uncle Chaddy got a booboo," haha. A few kids at conventions have seen the light-up eye and they just kinda stare with an "O" face, like they can't comprehend, oftentimes the kids seem less weirded out by it than their parents. I also get asked if it's a contact a lot, which I would think it would be a very painful contact... o_x

Robertdigitalorgasm13 karma

As a prop designer, you missed a golden opportunity to construct new faces for yourself and then use them to create new identities and seek revenge against the ones who horribly disfigured you and left you for dead. You had a comic book origin story, similar to Darkman, and you squandered it to dial 9-1-1 and go to the hospital like a loser. Do you regret this decision every day of your life?

Hokuprops6 karma

In hindsight yes, you've inspired me.

JUNGLEJlM2 karma

You do have a kinda Hero vibe from the patch. Id go with the noir detective look and throw in a neon orange patch for color- youd catch all manner of villain and ne'er-do-well

Hokuprops2 karma

Thanks, haha. I'm a lawful good type and feel I'd be better suited as a hero than a villain, tbh.

Robertdigitalorgasm1 karma

Nah bruh, too late, your face is fixed - opportunity missed. Maybe you will be lucky and some mobsters will come by and dip your face in acid because you refuse to sell the land deed that your orphanage sits on to crooked developers or something.

Hokuprops1 karma

Damn, my true calling has been squandered. :(

Ember3574 karma

What was your low point? What was your high point? What kind of accident?

Hokuprops3 karma

Are you talking about during the recovery or during the accident itself?

Ember3572 karma

across the board.

Hokuprops8 karma

Sorry, had to go walk my doggo lol

I've tried to stay positive throughout it all, but I guess if I had to pick something I would consider a low point is when they actually removed my eye and put in my implant. I had a 3 hour drive home in LA traffic from the hospital and I could only take Tylenol to dull the pain, it was one of the worst experiences in my life.

High point would be when I won Twitch Con's 2016 Cosplay Contest, I had never made anything for myself before and I was able to incorporate my disability in the costume and I believe that helped me win. :)

HighlandAgave3 karma

I've used face masks over safety glasses when using tools before, just because the face mask was available. After reading this I'm now thinking a little bit differently, and maybe it should be mandatory for me at all times. I wants to use a welding helmet that had automatic darkening, when I wasn't welding, just for the extra protection.

Enough about me though, have you considered a legal claim? Assuming you believe it was a defective product that is.

Hokuprops3 karma

Ironically enough, and I don't want to freak you out or anything because I 100% think everyone needs to wear safety products when you're in a workshop environment, but I had asked the doctor how bad the damage would have been if I had been wearing safety glasses. He told me it would have been like holding a piece of tissue paper over the barrel of a cannon and could have maybe caused more damage depending on what the glasses were made out of.

I never sought any legal action, it was a freak accident and I was just happy to be alive. :)

HighlandAgave1 karma

Agreed about glasses shattering. The face mask I've used are flexible enough I don't believe they would shatter the same. That said, I doubt they would have made a huge difference in your case. Glad to hear you are doing well.

Hokuprops1 karma

Yeah, the doctor's said there wasn't much that could have changed the outcome of my injuries other than the thing just not exploding, lol.

I'm now the guy who constantly reminds his friends to wear safety glasses and respirators. It didn't help in my case, but I've seen plenty of cases where they do and if I can save at least one other person's eyeball then my work here is done. :P

multi_stan_here3 karma

Oh, wow. You probably got this question a couple of times, but how much did it hurt on a scale of 1 to 10? Did it hurt a lot when it happened? Does it hurt now?

Hokuprops5 karma

It was bad. I honestly can't even describe it in words and it only got worse during the ambulance ride to the hospital.

I went a little light on the details with my original explanation of the accident, but when the lid hit me I would say it was similar to the force of a cannon. The piece of the lid that hit me went up vertically, almost cutting off my nostril (it was hanging on by a millimeter), then it ruptured my eye and then it went up into my forehead. With the amount of force, the piece should have kept going into my skull, but I always wear beanies and when it hit the fabric it slid off. I had a lot of lucky things going for me to prevent me from dying, haha.

My eye was obliterated, one of the EMTs actually stayed behind because they thought that it had been blown out of my head and was somewhere in my shop. Turns out it was just so utterly destroyed that they couldn't tell it was still in my head because it had fallen through my orbital floor and into my mouth.

I have little to no pain or discomfort now, however, I have severe nerve damage to the left side of my face resulting in little to no sensation. So for all I know my left side is constantly screaming at me in pain, but there is just no one there to listen.

OwO_QwQ3 karma

What kind of brain damage did you have? What were thensurgeries on?

Hokuprops4 karma

Also sorry I forgot to answer the second question.

It's a long list... but these are the ones I remember.

I believe they told me they put my eye back together first which took them about 8 hours. Then they flew in a special team of ENT surgeons to reconstruct my face. Those were the emergency ones.

After my discharge, I had scar revision surgery, the original scar tissue had fused to the titanium so my face was unable to move on that side which was quite painful. Next, they had to start reconstructing my eyelid. After that, the determined that my eye was a total loss so they did ocular enucleation (fancy term for they removed my eye) and then they put in a coral implant in the socket. Next was my dental reconstruction where they went in and fixed the 8 teeth that had been shattered.

I had a bit of a breather after that, until I started having issues with my eyelid (socket kept drying out because it wasn't closing all the way) so they had me in for another surgery to do a skin graph to extend the length of my eyelid. The final surgery I had was a sinus reduction and turbinate, where they went in and cleared out all the scar tissue in my sinus so I could (hopefully) breathe again. Sadly, because my nostril was almost severed, once it was reattached the muscle got damaged so when I could finally get airflow through it, it just closes up.

Agreeable_Fig1 karma

how much did that all cost? what kind of insurance you had?

Hokuprops1 karma

The medical costs were in the millions. I was luckily still in college and was attending a UC (University of California), and had insurance through the school. I was able to go to any UC for my treatments for free and had some of the best doctors working to fix my mug.

I will never have insurance that good ever again... haha. I remember when I signed up for it my mom was like "There is no way this is real?" it was that good. I think we paid 20k out of pocket? And that's including travel, taking time off work, meds etc.

Hokuprops3 karma

The damage is called post-concussive disorder, it's not a concussion despite the name and it is caused when a large shockwave passes through your brain and jumbles up the neurons. It's not understood very well and time is the only treatment.

My particular case affects my short term memory and my concentration, before the accident I had a very good memory and was in advanced classes, everything became much more difficult once I returned to college after the accident.

orangeireland3 karma

How has this changed the rest of your life in terms of perspective, relationships, travel etc? What was the reaction that you had to the drugs and what did that mean for surgeries/pain relief?

I'm glad you survived :) I hope the road ahead is less rocky for you!

Hokuprops6 karma

I'm glad too!

Perspective: If you can't tell, I'm pretty okay with everything that has happened. My perspective on life hasn't changed too much, and I still believe that hard work and dedication will pay off in the end. I don't treat my disability as something to feel down or depressed about, instead, I see it as just another challenge to work past.

Relationships: I was single at the time and I was lucky to find an amazing person who isn't bothered by my disability. It, however, put a huge strain on my family at the time and is one of my only real regrets. I still don't think I've forgiven myself for putting my mother through that.

Travel: The first thing I did once I was able to get around again was retake my driving test, I think it would have been awful if I wasn't able to drive myself anymore. Driving can be hard on road trips because of eyestrain and my fiance usually does most of the driving (partly because she likes to drive, but I also don't have great night vision). Plane travel is nice because I get pre-boarding now.

My heart rate gets erratic when I take narcotics so it was very touch and go before they figured out what was causing it. A lot of my surgeries post-accident (after I had been originally discharged) were performed with me 100% awake, which was pretty trippy. When my doctor was working on reconstructing my eyelid I asked if I could have a mirror so I could watch and he told me to stop making him laugh before he screwed up my face. He said he'd give me the video, but I never followed up with him about it.

Trying to manage the pain was the worst. I could only take Tylenol and the pain was excruciating, on a scale of 1-10 it was like a 20 on some days.

eeneymeeneymineymo3 karma

What’s the long term follow up care for your injuries? How is your pain now? Do you get so sick of people asking what happened that you’ve begun to make up tall tales about being a stunt man on Kill Bill and accidentally getting your eye snatched out for real?

Hokuprops9 karma

  1. I had to have 7 different surgeries to fix all the damage and the basics were just to keep it all clean, long term wise. I'm also supposed to get my eye polished once a year, but I hardly wear it so I haven't really kept up with that.
  2. I have really bad nerve damage so the pain isn't too bad, but the eye socket does get irritated quite often just from normal everyday life. It dries out a lot.
  3. I usually just say "explosion" and they're left to come up with their own crazy ass ideas, haha. The only thing that really annoys me is the constant people going "Yarrrggh matey" in a pirate voice (because I wear my eyepatch most often), and even then it's really only the people who don't drop it after the first "Yarrrr." I never thought of making up something, so I might consider it now, lol.

eeneymeeneymineymo2 karma

Is there a medical reason to wear a prosthetic in your eye socket or is it purely aesthetic? Also- can’t see the light up one you made very well in the pictures, but the whole outfit is amazing! Is it a tiny battery LED in the eye? How did you fit yourself for that? Do your own prosthetics that you make feel any more irritating?

Sorry. So many questions. My brother had his casting chamber (he makes swim bait) blow up, thankfully when he stepped out of the room for a moment. He told me about it and I knew it was serious but this is definitely an eye opener (no pun intended) for the severity of possible consequences.

Hokuprops5 karma

  1. The only real non-aesthetic benefit that I know of, is that it pushes pressure in the tear duct and keeps the socket from constantly "crying." I personally think it looks goofy because of the extent of the damage done, so that's why I prefer the eyepatch.
  2. Here's a video of the first one I made. No, it was a adafruit neopixel and a separate battery.
  3. I used my professionally made prosthetic to make a mold.
  4. They're equally as irritating, but I don't typically have to wear them for long.

It's cool! I'm glad your brother wasn't in the room, they can totally do so damage. Eye would know (pun intended). o_x

eeneymeeneymineymo2 karma

That is the coolest freaking thing I have seen in a long, long time!!! Had to google adafruit neopixel. I really dig that you took an otherwise terrible situation and are using your talent and creativity to make the best of it. Props my dude (damnit, seriously, pun not intended)!

Hokuprops4 karma

Haha, I'm glad you like it! It's okay, eye puns are the best. On the anniversary of when I had my eye removed, I have a "Going Eye-way" party, and my fiance got me a "An-eye-versary" cake one time.

-Soap_Boxer-2 karma

I have an unusual pain tolerance as well. Do you struggle with with rating pain 1-10? Did you before this accident also? I feel like I can relate to you in alot of ways, that's not to discount your extraordinary survival.... I've just done it too in my own ways. You're an anomaly, make the best of it and keep your spirits up. Survivors find new ways to make the best of what we still have. You'll go far kid!

Hokuprops1 karma

Also, happy cake day my fellow pain tolerant friend. :)

hidden_mind2 karma

I'd love to see more of your cosplays!
can you post to your youtube or socials? or should I just search for Hokuprops?
BTW awesome stuff to see someone suffer such a blow, and then really rise above it!

Hokuprops5 karma

I'm Hokuprops across the board!

Thank you, it's something that I'm passionate about and I truly hope that my work will continue to show other handicapable people that cosplay IS for everyone and to not let their disabilities hinder their creativity. :)

Norgeroff1 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

Hokuprops2 karma

I use a rotodent electric brush and it's white.

fallencollective1 karma

What is the capital of Ecuador?

Hokuprops1 karma

I have no idea, haha. The Ecuator?

Mykahl791 karma

Hats off to your awesomeness bro... Would you be willing to be a guest on our podcast?

Hokuprops1 karma

My schedule is pretty booked for the next month or so, I have a big job I'm doing for the Make A Wish foundation that I have to get finished first. I should be free after that and I wouldn't mind being a guest. Shoot me an email and we can get something figured out.

[email protected]

Bridge_Too_Far1 karma

How hard was/is it to adjust to life with no depth perception?

Hokuprops3 karma

That's kinda a hard question... the short answer is yes.

The long answer is I didn't really have much of a choice? Yes, it was difficult to adjust, but I was forced to really tackle it all head-on because I knew my eye was never going to come back. I've learned some tricks overtime to help me compensate though, but I do still make errors.

Merbel-1 karma

What could have been the cause of death? Not to downplay what happened to you, it sounds absolutely horrible, but it doesn’t sound like your life was ever in danger. Blood loss? I’m happy to see you are in such good spirits now.

Hokuprops2 karma

My life was very much in danger, lol. I kinda downplayed the explanation of it in my post. I went into detail in another comment, the user was multi_stan_here, if you wanted to read more.

First would probably have been the lid piece that was on its way into my skull, if it hadn't killed me it would have at least caused far more serious brain damage. Luckily for me, I've always worn beanies so before the piece could go deeper into my head it hit the fabric and slid off. My neighbor sewed up the hole and it's now my lucky beanie.

And yes second would have been blood loss. I was completely alone at the time, the doctor said I should have passed out from the pain and if that had happened I 100% would have bled to death. When I had gone out to find help (after trying in vain to call 911 on my cell, too much blood had gotten on the screen for it to work properly), my neighbor was still washing her car and was none the wiser of the explosion.

I'm pretty sure I scarred her for life. :') I was literally holding my face together and told her I had an accident and needed 911. She just screamed. Another neighbor heard her screaming and he was able to call 911. After that, I finally went into shock.

3inchesOfFun-3 karma

Anyways, feel free to ask me anything and I mean anything. Nothing is off-limits

HOW BIGS YA DICK BOY?

Hokuprops2 karma

Why do you wanna know? lol