Category Archives: Neck injury

. scaling greater heights, a year after i broke my neck .

So, it has been exactly 1 year since I attempted a trampoline flip and broke my neck. How time flies … A year later, I have embarked on my 1st solo trip to Bali (which was an adventure itself), left the comfort zone of my first job and am starting at a new place, exhibited my handmade leather wallet at the Singapore Design Week, did my 1st ever couchsurf in Hong Kong and climbed to the top of the Macau Tower!¬†Just like most challenging things in life, it takes courage and determination to overcome fear and achieve a profound sense of pride and satisfaction!

Everyday … Do something that reminds you you’re still ALIVE! ūüôā¬†

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. 6 months post neck injury .

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Wow.
Has it really been 6 months since my life-changing injury? Fast forward half a year¬†since that fateful day, my spine doctor and physiotherapist have given me a clean bill of health. I’ve been discharged from therapy sessions and my doctor is surprised that my neck has healed¬†way better than expected. During our last review 2 months ago, he warned me of the possibility for a neck surgery to realign one of the bones and I was so distraught by the news that I kinda sank into a temporary state of depression. Now, I’m relieved to say that my neck is probably about 80% of what it used to be, minus a certain degree of flexibility and range of rotation. Sure, it might not have recovered 100%¬†but I’ll take it for I know that it could have really been worse. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and also, for staying with me throughout the entire recovery process! ūüôā

Without a doubt, this year has been¬†by far the toughest year in my life. I have talked excessively about my broken neck and to a lesser extent, my experience with alopecia areata that left me with a small bald spot on my scalp (thankfully, the hair has grown!) but what I did not mentioned on this blog was that I had also broken off from a long-term relationship with the boy just barely 6 weeks prior to my injury. Broken heart, broken neck, broken hair and more importantly, a broken soul. To say that the past 8 months of my life was a nightmare is a total understatement. It was almost as if I was watching a real-life drama scene unfolding right in front of my eyes, only that it was happening to me. To say the least, the series of traumatizing events had changed and reshaped my life in many ways. As much as I think I have coped with everything with as much optimism and strength as possible, I cannot deny that I felt very lost in many aspects of my life. For the first time ever, faith, love, work (albeit temporarily since I was on hospitalization leave) and yoga were completely taken away from me and¬†it left me feeling a whole host of mixed emotions. What was my purpose in life? Where is my sense of identity? What can I do to feel productive again? There were a lot of philosophical questions that I had pondered on as I spent the past half a year to re-think about life.¬†While I don’t believing in living my life totally based on societal standards and goals (e.g. get a job by 22, married by 25, have a first child by 27, second child by 30, you get the drift), it can get very frustrating when life takes an unexpected turn from your¬†dreams¬†and comes to a standstill.

At this junction, you have 2 options – Do you crumble under the weight of these crushed dreams¬†or do you take it in your stride and press forward?¬†The truth is I was definitely not happy with the turn of events but I knew that given time, things will fall right back into place. Time and patience. And I was right. However, being someone who likes instant gratification and results, I was resistant to some changes and fought hard against them. Which, on hindsight, was a¬†terrible¬†waste of energy and emotions. Nonetheless, I refused to let my neck injury and break-up get the better of me and started living my life vicariously once I got off the horrendous halo vest. Even with my neck collar, I went on¬†heritage tours to offshore islands, made my own leather goods, visited many festivals of all sorts, hiked up Bukit Timah hill, settled my financial planning & investments and gasp, even baked rose-caramel macarons – something which I would normally have not done! In a way, this injury¬†taught me to stop procrastinating about some things in life (although procrastination is still a weakness of mine) and put action into the plans that have been placed at the back burner. I’m excited¬†to be making lots of plans for the months to come! ūüôā¬†

So, am I any different from the old Stephanie pre-injury? Well, not really.¬†I wish I can say that I now have the courage and wisdom to figure out what I want in life and live a life of my dreams. But nope, I’m not at that stage yet. However, what I have learnt through my own ordeal is¬†to not allow trivial issues, or most issues for that matter, to get me down. People will always have their own opinions and judgement but always know that no one should or can¬†dictate how you should live your life. The heart wants what the heart wants. At the end of the day, do what that makes you happy, even if you run the risk of being labelled unconventional or even, different. On a similar note, I’m also trying to learn how to embrace changes and go with the flow because sometimes, things are simply not within our control. The more you try to resist these changes, the harder it takes for you to accept them.¬†Finally, while I’ve always been blessed to be surrounded by an amazing family, supportive relatives and great friends, I cherish and appreciate these relationships even more so than ever now. I cannot express my gratitude enough to my support group for being there for me, through the bad and good times. These days, most of my evenings or weekends are spent with loved ones, friends or bringing my furkids for long brisk walks! That’s also¬†the reason why I barely have the time and energy to blog as much lol.

If you are still following me through this long blog entry, thank you for hanging in there! Honestly, I still cannot believe that it has already been 6 months since I was first told that I¬†had broken my neck and might be paralysed for life. It really didn’t seem¬†all that long ago when I had to be bedridden in the hospital. Now, what remains of that incident are 2 scars on my forehead (no thanks to the halo vest) and crankiness of the neck. I’m ready to close this traumatizing chapter but not forgetting the life lessons that it has taught me as I move forward in life.¬†To take nothing for granted and know how¬†blessed I have been. ūüôā

To quote a fellow broken neck survivor, Chantal, “Through the pain, I found strength. Through the struggling, I learned to fight back and overcome everything I have faced. Through adversity, I have found beauty in life.

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. super touched to return to work to this .

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. around the world in 24 hours .

29.07.2014. Possibly the happiest day in my life for this year. The day when I received news from my spinal surgeon that my neck¬†fracture has healed completely and I’m ready to start living my life without the neck collar (at home, for now) and move¬†my neck again! ūüôā However, there’s a joint between the C1 and C2 bones that didn’t fuse properly so surgery is not exactly out of the picture yet. Nonetheless, there is simply no words to describe the joy I feel to know that¬†I can regain some sort of normalcy again. Finally, after an awfully long 4 months wait, things are¬†slowly but surely getting back in shape – My fracture is healing well, hair is growing back in my bald spot, completed an express course of orthodontic treatment and am now proud to flaunt my straight teeth and finally, I underwent a cosmetic surgery to revise the depressed scars (aka halo vest scars) on my forehead.

The journey to recovery has been one hell of a ride,¬†with way too many¬†emotional outbursts than I could possibly handle. Some days, I mopped around in bed, constantly living off negative energy and wishing for the days to¬†zoom to the time, when I can proudly proclaimed that everything has fallen back in place. Yet, by doing so, I realised that I was rushing¬†through life just trying to reach to the destination. My goal when I can “get back to my old life”. ¬†Joel Osteen mentioned in his book ‘Every Day A Friday’¬†that “Many people only live for the mountaintops.” This basically means that most of us are constantly so focused on big-ticket events, such as a job promotion, wedding and vacations/travels, that we put our lives on hold until those things happen. I’m very sure that many of us are guilty of that, aren’t we? Likewise, at the lowest points of my recovery, I was hoping and praying so hard¬†to speed forward in time so that I can be normal again. Because I thought normal will bring me happiness. Yet,¬†there was no denying that I felt even more demoralised whenever I spend a day idling around and doing nothing productive. So, I tried to make the best of each day while waiting¬†longingly¬†for that big day to come.¬†Most of the time, I think I did pretty well for someone who had a broken neck. I have had strangers who came up to me and praised me for having the courage to¬†embark on workshops or island-hopping trips despite my lack of tip-top condition. Looking back, it is the days where I filled my time with meaningful activities that made me smile with glee … And not the days, where I sulked in misery, in my bed.

I guess, what I want to share is that¬†no matter how bleak you might think your situation is, always have faith and believe that it will always get better at the end of the day. It’s perfectly normal to moan and get upset because we need an outlet to release our emotions and feelings but don’t waste too much time wallowing in that dark corner. Attempt to enjoy¬†each day as it comes because when you look back, you will realise that it is a pity to let those days go by without making it productive. And of course, always surround yourself with your support system because they¬†will be the ones who will help get you to your destination eventually. ūüôā

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

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On the many occasions when I’m feeling utterly depressed or paranoid, he never fails to¬†remind me to think of the happy moments in my life.¬†Because these unforgettable¬†memories will be the catalyst to trigger happiness and positivism within me.¬†And I did. While I’m not one who fuss around big birthday celebrations, I have been lucky to celebrate many birthdays aboard. Last year, I had my best birthday celebration (so far) at the happiest place on Earth, with the company of those dearest to me. It was that special day at Epcot, Disneyworld that I often thought of¬†whenever I needed a morale booster. After all, I got to ‘travel’ to 11 countries in 24 hours! Pretty awesome huh! ūüôā

¬†Canada:¬†Learning about O’ Canada at Chateau Laurier and taking a stroll at the Canadian Rookies and Butchart Gardens
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United Kingdom:
Taking in the sights of the quaint cobble-stoned streets, quintessential English buildings and cottages and of course, not forgetting the world-famous red phone booths!
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France: Bon Appetit at Les Chefs de France restaurant, followed by a walk at the Seine waterfront and ending with a photo op at the romantic Pont des Arts bridge.
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Norway: A ride on the viking boat at the Maelstrom attraction and we also saw why the film-makers were inspired by this beautiful country to produce the movie, Frozen.
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United States of America: New York City. Boston. Philadelphia. Newark. San Francisco. Los Angeles. Anaheim. Buffalo. Orlando. I’ll be back for more.
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Morocco: The Jewel of North Africa, the most exotic country in the world showcase in Epcot. Soaking in the ambiance of the bustling bazaar and intricately designed courtyard.
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Italy: People-watching at St Mark’s Square and the Venetian bridges of Venice. Looks almost as real as the originals in Italy!
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Germany: I’m not a beer person or any alcohol for that matter but when you are in Germany, you gotta do what the locals love!¬†
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China: ¬†Back to our roots. Checked out the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and the¬†Terracotta Army in Xi’an.
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Japan: The most popular and crowded country in the world showcase! Everyone seems to be so excited purchasing all sorts of knick knacks from the Mitsukoshi department store, from Hello Kitty merchandise to anime action figures to katana, to name a few. For me? I’m happy to satisfy my cravings for¬†Japanese instant noodles!
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Mexico: We joined Donald Duck and friends on a delightful musical journey through Mexico, passing by Chichen Itza, Mexico City and Acapulco! Love the lively energy and colours of the Mexico pavilion! 
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. set your summer style ablaze with ZALORA .

This summer, get ready to turn the heat up in these sunshine-friendly pieces from ZALORA Singapore. Create your own chic look this season with flirty dresses, graphic printed tops, denim shorts and bold accessories. Here are some of my top picks for your own stylish looks! ūüôā

Flaunt your feminine curves in this floral bustier top! Wear it with a pair of sunshine yellow bejeweled sandals and a multicoloured flower ring to give your summer look a fun twist!

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Charm the boy with your feminine demeanor by pairing this sweet cut-out dress with a dainty gold daisy anklet and stylish sandals! The sexy peek-a-boo effects give this dress a mischievous yet sexy appeal, perfect for the summer date!

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 My summer loves from ZALORA:
1. White Embroidered Heart T-Shirt by Mango
2. Magic Dusts Bottled Necklace
3. Yellow Coin Woven Bracelet by River Island

zalora summerAfter a¬†past couple of challenging months living in a “prison cage”, I wanted to celebrate the removal of my halo vest by¬†making the first piece of clothes that I’ll be wearing in the longest time something different. Not my usual choice of summer flocks, shift dresses and graphic printed tops but something that resonates with me and my outlook in life. That’s when I fell instantly in love with the new MANGO¬†embroidered¬†‚ô• top offered on ZALORA. The subtle details on the t-shirt that reminds us to¬†love¬†life and live inspired, I love it. “You are what you wear” and I truly feel great to be donning something that inspires me to embrace my life despite its hardships. ūüôā

Live. Love. Grow. 

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. amy purdy: my inspiration .

These days, in between finding random activities to occupy my time¬†and having a lot of rest, I’ve also¬†been inspired by many who have overcame personal obstacles in their life and go beyond their limits.

One of whom is Amy Purdy, a double amputee who had lost both of her legs below her knees at 19 yrs old to bacterial meningitis. At that time, she was given less than a¬†2% chance of survival with respiratory and multiple organ failure. In addition to losing her legs, she also lost her spleen and received a¬†kidney transplant, donated by her father, when she was only 21. Honestly, that’s a lot of hardship for someone so young to go through.

Nonetheless, this determined and spirited lady not only triumphed over adversity but also began to live life with a renewed intensity. Despite the¬†challenges, she went on to win a Bronze medal in the first ever para-snowboarding competition at Sochi Paralympic Winter Games 2014, danced her way to the finale of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ season 18 and even¬†participated in the hit reality series, ‘The Amazing Race’! Wow, impressive! ūüôā Inspired to use her story and life experiences to drive a greater purpose, Amy¬†went on to start¬†Adaptive Action Sports, a nonprofit organization to provide a range of action-sport development programs for people with physical disabilities. This gave the disabled community an opportunity for a new lease of life in the sporting industry. A true example of someone who has fought against¬†life struggles¬†through sheer tenacity and perseverance and inspire millions to live an amazing life beyond limitations.

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Of course, if given the chance, I would have reversed the situation and never wish for a broken neck. But you know, this is life … Things change, accidents happen. Two weeks¬†into my neck injury, I suddenly lost a small chunk of my hair; The chunk of hair practically fell out from my head overnight!¬†A visit to the dermatologist confirmed that it was a case of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease where one’s immune system mistakenly attacks¬†healthy hair follicles for no reason. I confess, that was also the only time I cried out loud, Why me? As if it wasn’t already tough dealing with a broken neck, I had to¬†be confronted with the fact that I might possibly¬†suffer from more hair loss and be bald! All of a sudden, I lost the will to fight this battle momentarily and allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. Losing hair was¬†a tough pill to swallow –¬†As superficial as it might sound, most females take pride in¬†our lovely locks and to have that taken away from us, it’s utterly depressing and such a blow to our self-esteem.¬†Honestly, at that point of time, I didn’t think that I would be able to find anyone who will love me¬†anymore¬†because of¬†this bald patch.

Yet, as Amy Purdy said in her TEDx speech, “Our borders and our obstacles can only do two things: (1) stop us in our tracks, or (2) force us to get creative“, I knew that these challenges will not bring me down. Compared to so many others, my problems¬†are just a scratch on the knee. If someone like Amy is able to push through the seemingly impossible and live such a fulfilling life that continues to inspire millions, I shouldn’t let such obstacles stop me in my tracks. If anything,
I’m even more determined to grow from this experience and re-live life with vigor and zest. Two months into the injury, I’m glad to say that my¬†neck has been healing well and surgery is most likely out of the picture. The hair condition has been under control (aka no more new hair loss, yay!) and I’m just waiting, patiently, for the hair to re-grow. Patience, what a hard virtue. There are the good days; and there are the bad days but¬†life’s quite good.

If you have not heard about Amy Purdy, please find some time to watch the video of her motivational speech below. I hope you¬†are as inspired by her as I am. ūüôā

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“My legs haven’t disabled me; If anything, they have enabled me. They have forced me to rely on my imagination and to believe in the possibilities”
– Amy Purdy

. halo vest: life behind bars .

Got your attention, didn’t I? This particular post is written specially for those of you who might have chanced upon this blog by searching for terms such as “C2 neck fracture” or “halo vest”. My guess is that you might have found yourself in the same shoes as me – Currently nursing a c2 neck fracture¬†with a halo vest.

Hello There! ūüôā Since my accident, I had a couple of friends who prompted me to share my experience with others on my blog and it has been something on the back of my mind since. Reading other people’s experiences of coping with a neck fracture and living with a¬†halo vest had helped me tremendously to adjust to a new lifestyle so I would also like to do my part and pay it forward.

To get you started, here are a couple of other neck injury related entries:
(1) The Accident, (2) Being bedridden, (3) Thankful for the second chance at life

Life behind Bars

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Life in a halo vest is certainly no walk in the park. In fact, second to lying¬†on my back 24/7 for 10 days in the hospital, it’s the next hardest thing I have to deal with. For the first couple of days, I¬†unleashed a floodgate of tears as it was¬†difficult moving around with this 4kg metal contraption screwed into my head, let alone trying to adapt to a normal life. Not forgetting the¬†frequent backache, shoulder ache and neck pain.¬†

But trust me, life will get better after the initial weeks. I’ll be honest and real ¬†with you to say that you will need to make major adjustments to your life and be dependent on others, but it can only get better. ūüôā ¬†There are days that get incredibly hard but I always tell myself that I’m very lucky and blessed to have survived a broken neck and this halo vest is giving my neck the chance to heal by itself and hopefully regain most of its original mobility. So yes, despite the fact that living in a halo vest is a bitch most of the time, I’m thankful that it’s keeping me alive and I try make the most out of it.

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Is it even possible for you to sleep with this thing on your head?
Oh yes. In fact, as bone healing requires a lot of energy, I sleep more than I ever did before my injury. Make that 12-15 hours a day. But it is usually interrupted blocks of sleep as I tend to wake up at every 2-3 hours interval. Personally, I find it most comfortable sleeping 60 degrees upright, on my back, on a recliner. Put a small towel in between your neck and the bars for extra comfort.

Can you remove the vest to shower?
Unfortunately, no as you have to wear this halo vest 24/7. What I do is to wet a small towel with diluted soap and sponge bathe; My mum helps me to clean my back while I do the front. It is, however, not an issue to shower the lower part of the body.

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How about washing your hair?
Personally, this is a nightmare for my family and me as we have tried various methods to wash my hair but to no avail. On this note, I must say that I’m very lucky to have a stylist who’s willing to go the extra mile and wash my hair for me. Living in the tropics with high humidity means my hair gets oily and dirty very fast so I try to make do with twice weekly visits to the hair salon although slight dandruff still remains as a problem. ūüė¶

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How do you even fit into any of your clothes?
Well, I don’t. Honestly, I don’t even wear any top when I’m at home. For modesty sake, I’ll have a handkerchief covering my private bits at the front and another at the back but otherwise, I pretty much walk around “naked”. This is also the only time I can go bra-less with a valid reason lol. When I do head out, I’ll usually don a¬†large-sized boyfriend shirt over the vest. Or a boho dress for special occasions.

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I miss exercising!
Trust me, I do too. With yoga and aerial arts out of the picture (and for a long time to come),
¬†I felt like¬†I had lost a tiny part of my identity. As I had mentioned earlier, bone healing¬†takes up an incredible amount of energy and I get tired and sleepy pretty easily these days. All the hard work gone into working out my core and muscles seem to have gone to waste. ūüė¶ ¬†Welcome flabs! But I know how important sleep/rest is to aid in recovery so I’ll do whatever it takes for a¬†faster and complete recovery.

What else do you do to fill up your day?
Sleep! Honestly, I used to have such a hectic lifestyle that I hardly have the luxury to do nothing. I know it sounds so clich√©¬†but I do reflect a lot about life and try to take each day as it comes.¬†These days, I seek pleasure in catching up on many shows – From American sitcoms to drama crimes¬†to documentary shows – , reading, playing with my 3 lovable dogs and catching up on a backlog of blog entries.¬†It certainly helps that my relatives and friends ensure that I have some form of social interaction by visiting me at my place. ūüôā

Oh yes, I even booked myself a house-call manicure and pedicure just to pamper myself!PhotoGrid_1398677865478