Tag Archives: c2 neck fracture

. 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! 🙂

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! 🙂 

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. 🙂

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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. 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! 🙂 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. 🙂

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! 🙂

 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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. the key to everything is patience .

As with any life-threatening experience, there is always much to be reflected on and learnt. I have always known that patience is not my strongest trait. In fact, if anything, I am relatively impatient and like to see the fruits of my labour almost immediately. Yes, just one of those city dwellers who like to get things done fast in order to see the results. However, since my accident, I’m beginning to understand and internalize the phrase that good things come to those who wait and be patient about everything.

Patience is the key to a lot of things in my life at the moment. The long recovery time needed for my neck fracture to heal properly and completely. As much as I would like to return to a productive life as soon as possible, this injury is definitely not something that can be rushed, for the slightest mistake can result in paralysis or even death. That aside, I’ll also have to wait for the hair to re-grow, scars at pin sites to fade after removal of halo vest, teeth to be straightened while on braces, amongst many other things that I hope to expedite. Oh boy, for an impatient and fiery-tempered person like me, having to wait patiently for things to happen is akin to harvesting rice in a drought!

Come Tuesday, it will mark the 9th week that I have been trapped in a walking prison of my own (aka halo vest). Yes, 9 whole weeks! At times, it’s excruciatingly frustrating when everyone surrounding me are making exciting plans but I have to put a temporary halt to my life. 2014 was meant to be  a year of exciting changes for me … I wanted to set greater heights for myself in yoga and aerial arts, embark on adventure trips with YMCA outdoor activities group to go kayaking, caving, trek mountains and travel. In reality, I found myself being home-bound to give my body the much needed time to recuperate. Hence, it’s disheartening to make plans to take 1 step forward in life; yet take 2 steps backwards at this point of time. When all is said and done, I’m proud that I have dealt extremely well with living with a halo vest for the past 2.5 months. If I can survive this, I sure can beat against other odds that life might bring forth. If all goes well, freedom beckons in 24 hours’ time and I hope to walk away from the clinic halo-free tomorrow! 🙂 With the big day just less than a day away, I must confess that I’m a mixed bag of emotions … Full of anticipation to be freed and be a step closer to being productive, but also full of nervousness because the halo vest has been my safety net for the longest time and I have absolutely no idea how my neck will hold out on its own. Will I be like 1 of those bobber head dolls? Will my neck crack with the slightest movement? Will I ever be able to move my neck without having to turn my torso? The list of question is endless!

Physically,  my neck should be ready for the next phase of recovery but mentally, I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to take the plunge. There’s an overwhelming sense of anxiety within me and this psychological barrier is what that prevents me from stepping back into the “big and unknown world”. Figuratively, of course. On a good note, I will be on a cervical collar for awhile so we will be taking gradual steps to re-introduce strength  and mobility to my neck . Once again, having patience is essential in the course of this journey. Patience, a crucial life skill that I have picked up from my experience and I hope to carry forward post-injury. 

24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86 400 seconds left to go till the big removal. Let’s hope that my neck has healed and I would finally be halo-free tomorrow! Keeping my fingers crossed for the best piece of news, for I’ve been a good girl. :p

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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! 🙂 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. 🙂

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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! 🙂 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. 🙂  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. 😦

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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. 😦  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 cliché 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. 🙂

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

. 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!

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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!

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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. 🙂

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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

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Next phase. Living with a halo vest …

. all it took was a flip on the trampoline … .

… To land myself with a broken neck and an accident that is set to change my life forever.

The plan for 5th April? Attend a free aromatherapy-yoga class for an article that I was working on, followed by 2 consecutive hot yoga classes before meeting my girlfriends for an hour of fun at the trampoline park. Well, we all know that the plan worked out perfectly well until my quest for an excitement albeit (on hindsight) recklessness pushed me to attempt a forward flip on the trampoline. My first attempt went well and I was filled with confidence, so off I went for a second flip.

Unfortunately for me, the second flip didn’t end off quite as expected and before I knew it, I heard the following sounds …

CRACK. repeat multiple times.

For a split second, I lost consciousness but I could recall that the first thing I did, upon regaining consciousness, was to move my hands and legs as I was terrified that I had broken my neck and might be paralyzed. Phew! No loss of feelings and sensations in all my limbs. Immediately, I voiced my concerns to the crew at AMPED Trampoline Park @ YOHA that I might have possibly sustained a serious neck injury as the cracking sounds that I heard sounded pretty grave.

Frankly, what followed through was a series of “NOT TO DO” when suspecting a neck fracture. I was reassured multiple times by the AMPED crew that I didn’t break my neck and it was common for people (both the crew and participants) to, I quote, hear similar cracking sounds when they pull a muscle or ligament in their neck. On hindsight, I should have known to always trust my body and instincts; However, at that point of time, being in a state of pain and confusion left me acting against my better judgement. I was convinced by the crew that my injury was nothing more serious than just a bad muscle strain.

On the assumption that it was a muscle strain, my friends had one of our yoga instructor to check out my injury and for the next 20 minutes, he pulled my neck up and down, giving it a massage. Unbeknownst to me at that time, the tiniest action could have damaged my spinal cord. After what felt like an eternity, I cried aloud to stop with the massage as the pain was starting to become excruciating. The decision was made to call for an ambulance. Finally. Nonetheless, it was a series of wrong moves as I stood up, gathered whatever strength I had left within me to walk down 2 flights of stairs before I was wheeled into the ambulance and rushed to the hospital.

And because I could still move and walk, my situation was deemed as non life-threatening and I was soon transferred to the outpatient clinic, where I waited for another 3 long hours before my X-ray was taken. It was only after the doctor had examined the X-ray results of my neck before we realised the gravity of the situation. The verdict? It was no simple muscle strain; I had fractured my neck and needed to undergo a CT scan to further investigate the extent of my injuries.

Almost immediately, the A&E doctor and his team had me rushed to the emergency department where I had my neck immobilized in a hard neck collar and head blocks. I was told that I had to be bedridden as the slightest movement could jeopardize my injury and sever my spinal cord. Oh my God! I broke into tears and started crying uncontrollably as a cloud of negativity overwhelmed me. Truth to be told, it terrified me to no end that there was a real possibility that I could end up being a paraplegic. Being scared is an understatement. The CT scans revealed that I had fractured my C1 and C2, the first two cervical vertebrae that control the movement of our head and houses the nerves to our respiratory system. And no visible signs of damage to the spinal cord. I must have said this a thousand times since my accident but I am truly thankful to be alive and fully mobile despite the series of wrong moves along the way.

I lay completely still in bed, with an Intravenous drip insertion and a urinary catheter inserted into my bladder (one of the most uncomfortable procedure), as I await for the Orthopedic specialist to arrive … and what was also the beginning of the most traumatic experience of my life.

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The take-away from this entry? Always assume the worst when it comes to any neck injury and call for an ambulance immediately.