This is the MRI of my neck on accident day. The only scan I remember doing!

MRI

Check out a normal neck MRI here and an MRI that shows a damaged spinal cord here (don’t worry about the spinous processes at the back since these aren’t at the same sagittal view).

Next, we have the CT scan (what’s the difference with an MRI?).

ct2

Normal CT and CT of a dislocated spine here for comparison.

Finally, this is my neurosurgeon’s sketch illustrating my fractures.

sketch

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:

  1. C5 lamina fracture (not seen on these sagittal views)
  2. C6-C7 disk disrupted with a facet fracture (not seen on these sagittal views)
  3. C7 facet and vertebral body compression fracture (apparent on MRI and CT)
  4. T1 contusion with possible rib fracture (rib fracture not seen on CT)
  5. 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:

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.

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Day 2 at the hospital with my new head accessory, the halo brace
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How I keep up with Facebook while in the hospital
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Walking with a five- to seven-pound cage on my head. Since walking was the only exercise I could do, I made it a point to walk a lot!
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My new, lighter Minerva jacket. Taking advantage of it by going further on my hikes!
After my second surgery
After my second surgery with my new Aspen collar
Day 5 post-op
Two weeks ago: Day 5 post-op

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