This is the MRI of my neck on accident day. The only scan I remember doing!
Next, we have the CT scan (what’s the difference with an MRI?).
Normal CT and CT of a dislocated spine here for comparison.
Finally, this is my neurosurgeon’s sketch illustrating my fractures.
Now, I’m not a doctor, but I’m not a complete dummy either. I tried my best to understand my injury to be able to explain it to myself and others. This is what I got:
- C5 lamina fracture (not seen on these sagittal views)
- C6-C7 disk disrupted with a facet fracture (not seen on these sagittal views)
- C7 facet and vertebral body compression fracture (apparent on MRI and CT)
- T1 contusion with possible rib fracture (rib fracture not seen on CT)
- Damage to spinal ligaments (I don’t know how to interpret this from the scans)
Some vertebral anatomy to help understand:
In short: multiple cervical spine fractures with ligamentous injuries.
Time and again I am reminded how incredibly lucky I am that my spinal cord is completely intact. Had my fractures been more extensive, I would have been paralyzed. For real.
Like most people, I cannot imagine a life with complete paralysis. It sounds terrible saying this, but I would rather die than be paralyzed. With my love of fitness, sports, and being out and about all the time, I am therefore truly grateful that a) my life was spared, and b) I can go back to a “normal life” within less than a year.
I’ve been through a lot with my neck injury. Here is a brief timeline of what has happened:
- April 26, 2015 – accident and admittance to hospital
- April 27 – halo brace placement
- May 5 – spinal fusion surgery #1
- May 25 – discharge from hospital (total time in hospital = 1 month)
- August 3 – halo brace removal and Minerva jacket placement (total time in halo brace = 3 1/2 months)
- September 1 – spinal fusion surgery #2, Minerva jacket removal and Aspen collar placement (total time in Minerva jacket = 1 month)
- December 4 – Aspen collar removal (total time in Aspen collar = 3 months; total time in all neck braces = 7 1/2 months)
Then complete neck brace freedom!!! I can start physiotherapy on my neck and upper body and gradually enjoy exercise and sports again… I estimate this will take three months. Come March 2016, I’ll hopefully be (near) my pre-accident self again.
I’ll do my best to detail my experiences of my “road to recovery” over the last five months and counting. Here are some photos in the meantime.