When I meet with my neurosurgeon TOMORROW MORNING at 9:00 am EST, I have a good chance of becoming neck brace-free.

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I’m a great big mixed bag of emotions right now. I am excited but scared, eager yet anxious, glad but skeptical. Ever since my accident last spring, my life has taken quite the turn. Everything that has transpired over the last seven and a half months has come down to this one moment of complete neck brace freedom. No pressure, right?

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April 27, 2015, the day after the accident in the halo brace

If you’ve been a long-time reader of my blog, this moment in my “broken neck journey” closely corresponds to California girl, Part 3 and Judgement day back when I had my lovely halo brace in August, four months ago.

Now here I am again, hoping that I can get one step closer to making a full recovery. I just hope there won’t be any surprises this time. I am no doctor, but I am speculating that these could be some things that could go awry:

  1. My C5-C6-C7 fractures and ligaments haven’t healed adequately. Again.
  2. Non-union between the vertebral bodies post-surgery. Again.
  3. The new plate, screws, and bone graft in my neck have been dislodged somehow…?!?!
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CT scan on accident day, April 26, 2015
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X-ray on September 2015. My neck with all the bells and whistles. At the back I have the wiring from my first surgery, at the front I have a plate with screws fusing all three vertebrae together from my second surgery.

Without an X-ray and/or CT scan, I have no idea. I’ve been praying to God every single night that I am healing properly and efficiently.

As of my last X-ray on September 22nd, everything was fine. The plate, screws, and bone graft were intact and so my neurosurgeon told me to come see him again in two months. I got an appointment for tomorrow, December 4th. It was close enough to the three-month mark, the amount of time he told me to wear the Aspen collar after surgery #2.

That day, after I got my appointment from the receptionist, I hurried back into the examination room to quickly have a word with my neurosurgeon. He was talking with another doctor and I waited until they were finished. “Dr. J, my appointment’s on December 4th… that’s pretty much the three-month mark for my collar. Can we take it off then?”, I asked.

“Oh yeah, sure, we can take it off then,” he said nonchalantly.

From that conversation alone, things should look pretty good for tomorrow. But I’ve learned to not be so hopeful after everything I’ve been through. I can hope for the best, but I can also expect the worst. Hence my conjured list of the things that could go awry.

What if I don’t get my neck brace off?

I’ll live.

I think?

I’ll probably just have to wear it for a little while longer. I don’t believe I will have another surgery again, as I’ve had surgery done from the back and from the front of my neck already. I don’t think they can go back in there now.

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Pretty sweet scar, right? (I can remove my neck brace for FIVE MINUTES when my husband and I change the wet foam liners after I shower.)

My neurosurgeon said, “We only have one shot at this,” and he did and suggested everything he could to ensure that I heal properly this time around:

  1. Multi-level ACDF surgery
  2. Daily use of a bone stimulator
  3. Vitamin D and calcium supplements

Worst case scenario: Neck brace forever??!?!? I honestly have no idea. Huuuuu.

Again, at least I’m not paralyzed. “Lucky” is not even enough to describe how fortunate I am to be completely normal (let alone, alive) despite a serious accident. Come on, our car rolled over on itself at least three times!

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My injury was in my cervical vertebrae. With spinal cord damage, it results in quadriplegia. I had no spinal cord damage whatsoever.

If When I get my neck brace off

The likely situation… I HOPE!!!! I am going to have an X-ray at 8:30 am EST, then my neurosurgeon will look at it and judge whether the fractures in my neck are stable enough without a neck brace.

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First thing’s first: I am going to MOVE MY NECK AFTER 7 1/2 MONTHS of being held still in the same position! And I know it will HURT. A lot. It probably won’t even move very much at all at first.

MY NECK IS SOSOSOSOSOOOOO THIN RIGHT NOW. All my neck muscles have deteriorated as they have not moved at all for an extremely long period of time. Here are some photos from when my husband and I remove my neck brace to change the wet foam liners after I shower.

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Then at home: I am going to have a nice, long shower with NO NECK BRACE DRYING INVOLVED.

Then in the evening: I’m going to throw a celebratory dinner with my family to celebrate!

Then before going to sleep: Apply some cream to address that bothersome rash I’ve had on the bottom of my left jaw from having a brace on my chin for four months!!!!!!!!!!

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While I sleep: It’s probably going to be very painful as my neck can move around again. But it’s okay. Anything not to have a neck brace anymore.

The many questions I have to ask Dr. J:

  • What kind of therapy and exercises should I do for my neck?
  • Can I have massages on my neck? To what extent?
  • Can I start exercising (cardio, strength) soon? How light can I go to start?
  • Can I do yoga now?
  • When should I see you again?
  • When can I go back to work?
  • Can you PLEASE prescribe me some narcotics for the pain?
  • Can I take the plane/train/car to New Brunswick and Québec to spend Christmas with my husband’s family?
  • Do I have to ride in the plane/train/car with the neck brace on?
  • Can I take public transit (train/bus) now?
  • Do I have to sleep with the neck brace on?
  • Am I taking the right amount of Vitamin D and calcium in my supplements?
  • Do I have to use the bone stimulator at exactly the same time everyday? Do I actually have to use it for six more months?

I am actually going to print this list and bring it with me tomorrow at my appointment. LOL.

Good thing it’s only a day away.

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