Broken Neck-Part 2

May 3, 2011

My husband picked me up at the airport and we went immediately to the Mayo clinic, x-rays from Mexico in hand.  I was still in severe pain but happy to be home and see Dan.  There wasn’t much of a wait on a Saturday night and we were given a holding room pretty much right away. They took  new x-rays and gave me a MRI. We waited quite awhile for the results and even had a little food. Finally, the doctor came in and said “You have a broken neck and are lucky not to be paralyzed” Wow-what a shock!! I knew I was hurt and was hurt pretty badly but never did I think it was this bad. Stuff like this happens to other people, not me. He gave us a prescription for stronger medicine, a bigger and more sturdy neck brace and told us to come back Monday and see a specialist. He told me to lay flat on my back with no pillows and that I would be in this awful brace for 8-12 weeks. Dan and I went home and couldn’t believe what we were told. That night was extremely difficult. I was in tremendous pain. I was so scared that if I made a wrong move I would be paralyzed so I kept wiggling my fingers and toes to be sure they were moving. The next morning, Dan went out to fill my prescription and the doctor that I was to see Monday called. He had looked at my MRI and suggested that I go to the Barrow Neurology Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital. When Dan returned home, we got in the car and drove to St. Joe’s. They were waiting for me and I was soon admitted. I don’t remember a whole lot, just that they gave me some morphine and I was finally able to sleep a little bit. I was transferred from one room to another and soon given the room I would be in for the next 4 days. I only realized later that I was in the ICU. The nurses were incredible! I think from watching Grey’s Anatomy I had this illusion that the doctors would be in the room the whole time, but it’s really the nurses that take care of you. I was hooked up to all kinds of machines and checked on each hour.

After having a CAT scan and an MRI, it was determined that I would need surgery to fuse the top couple of vertebrae and that two rods would be inserted to stabilize my neck.  In addition, they would be using my floating rib (which I didn’t even know I had!) to help with the fusion.  Surgery was scheduled for January 18 and would take 3-4 hours.  The surgery went well and didn’t take quite as long as they originally thought.  What I remember is waking up from anesthesia and going a little crazy trying to escape. I was trapped in the Mario Brothers video game-so weird I know!! By all accounts the surgery went well.  I was up and walking the next day and released from the hospital January 21, just 3 days after surgery wearing a new neck brace and knowing that my life would never be the same.

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