Tag Archives: life with a halo vest

. 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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. 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