. turning into Frankenstein .

After what seemed like an eternal wait, the spinal specialist informed us that I would be treated with a halo traction with a 7 pounds weight for the first few days before being fitted with a halo vest. This halo vest would allow the broken bones in my neck to hopefully fuse back and heal by itself; However, depending on the recovery of my fracture, surgery could still be an option.

Although I was slightly sedated, the memory of having the halo crown fitted into my head is definitely something that doesn’t escape me. For that 15 minutes, I could sense that all eyes were on me as I was given a dose of local anesthesia at the 4 pin sites (2 at my forehead, 2 at the back of my head) before the drilling started. Drilling, you might ask? Yes, the drilling and screwing of the 4 titanium pins into my skull to secure the halo vest. The pain was tolerable but I must confess that it was even more bizarre to be relatively wide awake and hear the sounds of the pins drilled into my skull. A memory that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I’m now officially Frankenstein!

Now, I have always been an active and very independent person so having to lie flat on my back 24/7 for 10 days was excruciatingly tough. The anxiety first kicked in on the first night when I suddenly experienced a series of panic attacks and pleaded for the medical team to give me anything that they could – be it sleeping pills or tranquilizer – so that I can return to sleep as I felt utterly restless to be bedridden. I was that desperate. Fortunately, the situation improved with each passing day and by the end of the 10th day, I was pretty accustomed to lying flat on my back.

My days in the hospital were often spent staring at the ceiling (not that I have a choice, anyway), getting spoon-fed for all my meals, looking forward to the daily X-ray where I get to enjoy fleeting moments of air-conditioning since my room does not come with an air-con, and lots of feeble attempts to get a good sleep. Sleeping was a bitch. My back and shoulders ached terribly from the pressure of lying on the bed (hot muscle lotion was my best friend). I could feel the bulk of my muscles craving for some sort of movement and exercise but to no avail; the part of the body that I ‘exercised’ the most were my fingers… Through the use of my mobile phone! Hahaha. A slave to modern technology.

Nonetheless, I knew the extent of my injuries and was determined to be a good girl by keeping as still as I possibly could. It was extremely tough. But being bedridden and having to depend on my family and the medical team for even the most basic thing – from being spoon-fed, to getting sponge baths and even getting cleaned after excretionreally made me appreciate my life and not take such basic necessity for granted. My ‘hard work’ was rewarded when the doctor pushed forward my appointment to be fitted with the halo vest a day earlier, which also meant a day earlier for me to finally get to move around!

hospital 1
After 10 days of anxiously waiting for the big day, I was finally fitted with the halo vest but the journey was only half completed as I still needed the help of the physiotherapist to get me to start walking again. Yup, that’s what your muscles do when they haven’t been used even for a few days … They need “help” to remember their function again.

Here’s a picture of me having my very first meal on my own since my accident!
A task so simple, but one that I took so much pride in. 🙂

hospital 3
Everyone says that I’ve been such a trooper – for being so strong and positive despite having undergone some of the toughest months in my life that finally accumulated with this neck injury. Honestly, I didn’t think I have so much strength and optimism within me to find my way out of the depths either but now, I do believe that adversity helps build one’s character and I’m coming out of this bit of struggle by becoming a better person.

Of course, I couldn’t have been so strong without the support given to me by these incredible people in my life. My family for being my pillar of strength during some of the darkest moments in my life; relatives, friends and colleagues for the daily hospital visits and showering me with gifts and nutritious food! 🙂 I’ve truly been so humbled by all your support and love; Please know that I really appreciate each and every one of you.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” 
― Haruki Murakami

hospital 2
Next phase. Living with a halo vest …

11 responses to “. turning into Frankenstein .

  1. Pingback: . halo vest: life behind bars . | the girl at the traffic light junction

  2. blueberriesncheese

    oh dear I didn’t know about it till I saw a photo of you on facebook – it must be really tough for you 😦 coming from a occupational therapist pov myself… I’ve seen many with injuries like yourself but of much much worse… you are really really lucky! esp the episode right after your injury at the trampoline centre. Get well soon!!!! im sure there’s a reason for you to be so lucky 🙂

    • Hi 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by my blog. Was it the pictures of my friend’s wedding? I had quite a no. of friends who came to ask me about the device I’m wearing after seeing the pictures on FB too. Yah, it was pretty tough the first couple of weeks, living and adjusting to the halo vest. But, like you said too – I know that it could have been worst so I seek comfort to know that I have been blessed and that’s a strong factor for me to fight for full recovery and get back the mobility of my neck. 🙂 Should be starting rehabilitation soon and that’s the scary bit for me, think mental barrier. Thanks dear!

  3. Congrats on surviving the halo. I have to say that I am very jealous. I just got into one on Monday, and I came home today and am now resting. But its fitful rest, and I am frustrated and getting a bit claustrophobic in it. I realize that it’s 12 weeks (which isn’t too bad from what they say), but I’m counting the minutes and just feel like its never going to come off. May I ask how you dealt with it at the start? Any tips on how to stay positive? I mean, I’m blessed that I survived my car accident (I wasn’t driving), but I’m so frustrated and angry that I’m couped up in this thing. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Dave, thank you for reaching out to me. Im so sorry to hear about your accident and understand that its a very tough time for you. I was in the same situation just 6 mths ago. Have dropped you an email instead.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story! It’s a big help for sure. I’m just home this past weekend after a fall from my horse that fractured my C2 and has me in a halo as well. I’m shocked to read about how much sleep you got, I’m dead tired but only getting a couple hours a day so far. Just can’t manage to get comfy and when I do doze off I get jolted awake pretty quick it seems. Must take getting use to of course. Anyhow it’s great your doing better and there is light at the end of the tunnel! Going to check out the rest of your blog now and all the food pics have me HUNGRY!!!!! Have an awesome day.

    • Hi Jayna!

      Thank you for visiting my blog. I’m sorry to hear that you also fractured your C2 from an accident. However, I hope that your nerves/ spinal cord were not damaged in any way? Always count your blessings that despite your neck injury, that you are still very lucky to not only be alive but very mobile. 🙂 I get what you mean – I sleep ALOT but it’s always interrupted sleep. I used to wake up every 2-3 hrs initially. Are you sleeping on a bed or comforter? I feel that I was able to sleep more comfortably on a comforter, at around 50 deg angle. Although I must warn you that you might end up with lots of butt pain and discomfort though.

      Always, always tell yourself that while life seems so tough now (and I know because wearing the halo vest is never easy)… pls know that this too shall pass. And you will come out stronger and more positive through adversity in life. Keep in touch… Or if u need anyone to talk to, just drop me a comment/ email! 🙂 Stay strong and positive, Jayna.

      • I am totally counting my blessings!! I have no nerve damage so I do know it could have been so so much worse. I spend most of my time right now in a sitting back in a recliner. The butt is a bit sore but all the squats over the years have come in handy and are providing some cushion. lol Hope your having a great week, don’t know where your e-mail is so I left mine if you wanted.

        Jayna 🙂

  5. I enjoyed looking at your blog. Very nice!
    I was involved in a car accident few weeks ago and I suffered many injuries. I’m another broken neck survivor with a Halo vest. It’s very frustrating and claustrophobic…How did you deal with it the first weeks?


    • Hi Nicole,I apologise for the late reply as I haven’t been as active blogging these days. I’m so sorry to hear that you were involved in a car accident and had injured your neck. It’s definitely not easy having to deal wearing the halo vest 24/7. My first couple of weeks were just as tough and emotional but it helps alot with support from loved ones. Personally, I tried to keep my mind occupied by sleeping alot (rest comes naturally as our bodies needed plenty of rest to recuperate), watching tv, reading and surrounding myself with positive affirmations. Each morning, I tell myself just how blessed I am to have survived a broken neck without damage to my spinal cord/ nerves so pls remind yourself each day on how lucky you are too. 🙂 Having said that, just feel free to rant about the halo vest once in awhile to your family/ friends as it’s always good to let it out and not keep it within. Pls feel free to drop me an email/ comment as I know, first-hand, how much it helps to be able to talk to someone who has gone through the same situation as you did.

      Keep in touch! 🙂

      • Hi, thanks for your message. I had trouble answering it. An error always on the mobile. If you don’t mind, can you please add me on Facebook? It’s more easily for me and private of course. I’m Nicole Straw. I have some questions… and a lot of things that I have no idea how to deal with them. I’m a bit frightened.

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