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Thread: Hello, I am a C5 Burst Fracture Patient - 6/21/2009

  1. #1

    Hello, I am a C5 Burst Fracture Patient - 6/21/2009

    Dear Community,

    I am a C5 Burst Fracture patient. I was first turned onto this forum because of CJ's Mom's thread here: and since then I've done some more reading around.

    On June 21st, 2009, Father's Day, I was in a motorcycle crash. I was helmeted and wore full protective gear including an armored jacket, padded pants, armored gloves, armored boots and a back plate. Nevertheless, going 25mph around a curve, I ran off the road (I don't remember how or why) and all the gear did not save me. I suffered a C5 Burst Fracture in my neck with spinal cord compression and spinal process fractures at C5, T3 and T4.

    I am 31 years-old and in law school. I never had told my family that I owned a motorcycle to save them the worry. When they got the call, they were devastated. My two sisters and my parents all live between 1,000 miles to 3000 miles away from California so they all were on flights as soon as they heard. My girlfriend was there for me since I was admitted to the ER and she has helped me through everything.

    The accident was on Mt. Hamilton Road in San Jose, California. I remember civilians coming to help me. Some guy named Nick helped stabilized my neck and refused to let the other civilians move me-- I was lying on the road. I remember feeling some pain between my shoulders and tingling in my right arm and hand. I felt my legs and was able to move them a little bit.

    I was taken to the nearest trauma center, which was Regional Medical Center of San Jose. I was injured at approximately 5:00pm and I was in surgery by approximately 11:00pm on the same night. In the hour before surgery, I felt I had substantial weakness and lack of motion below the hip and in my right arm and hand. I didn't remember it being that bad, but my girlfriend and the medical records were clear-- I was paralyzed. I had zero reflexes below the hip and and on my right side. I had to sign the consent papers for surgery with a scribble with what strength remained in my left hand. My memory still is in denial that I was paralyzed but the weight of documented evidence and testimony proves otherwise.

    The surgery sounded awful. They would have to halo me, open my neck up from the front, then turn me over and do the same thing from the back. The doctor told me I could be paralyzed after, or I could die that night because of the seriousness of a burst fracture. I cried.

    I was losing autonomic function as well. My breathing had become irregular and my body was burning up because I lost the ability to regulate body temperature.

    My neurosurgeon performed a complete C5 corpectomy, a C4/C5 diskectomy and a c5/c6 disketomy to decompress the spinal cord. I have have a 28mm fusion, augmented by a titanium plate up front with four screws, two titanium rods in the back with 6 screws and a 3-stage stackable PEEK cage to replace my C5. My C5 vertebral body was morselized and put into the PEEK cage as autograft.

    At 5:00am the next day, I woke up. The first thing I did was to raise my right hand. It moved. A little. It was from that moment on that I decided that I was not going to give up. I visualized my bones repairing and my nerves mending. After the first day out of ICU, I was able to stand up out of my bed. This episode was short-lived and I collapsed back into bed only after moments. The next day, I made it to the door of my room before vomiting all over myself and collapsing. My PT would challenge me by making jokes about my lack of speed and not setting any land records! I had to drag my ankles.

    Over the next couple of days, I achieved what most of the doctors think is an impossibility. Little by little, I recovered my motion and sensations. On day three, I walked around the hospital floor. On day four, I got tired of walking inside and saw the beautiful sunshine outside. My girlfriend, who had been by my side constantly for days now, was too tired to restrain me as I pressed the elevator button for the lobby and continued to walk. I walked downstairs. I walked to radiology. I walked to the cafe and the shop. Then, I walked out of the hospital's front doors in my gown and my slippers. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day outside.

    This episode was also short-lived but for a different reason. The head-nurse of the trauma floor saw me standing outside and naturally chased me down to ask, "what do you think you're doing?!" To which I replied, "I'm going for a walk." She discharged me later that day stating that I clearly didn't need to be there anymore.

    All this was 12 weeks ago to the day. This weekend, I spent some time at the G.F. Strong rehab center in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I flew up there to visit some family but a contact had requested I pay a visit to the SCI floor. I met many SCI patients, most of who were quadriplegics. It was a very positive experience both for them and for me. I made some good friends there.

    The initial reaction was one of disbelief. They did not think it possible that I was a C5 burst fracture patient only 12 weeks ago. I showed them my scars. I showed them my x-rays. Perhaps, I was the one who eventually stood there in disbelief.

    Today, I am back at law school. I can drive. I can walk. I can run. I can play piano with my fingers and rub my doggies' tummies with my toes.

    How can this be?

    My doctor thinks it's because I am young, the surgery happened relatively soon after the injury and a positive attitude. I don't quite believe that is enough since many other C5 patients share these things in common with drastically different outcomes.

    I still have some tingling in my fingers and some buzzing below my waist when I bend my neck forward. It gets worse at the end of the day when I am tired but I cannot complain-- these are minor consequences when viewed next to my new-found friends at the rehab center.

    My neurosurgeon said he picked over 50 pieces of bone shards out of my neck. Yet not a single one penetrated my spinal cord. I am not religious but I did go to church once after the injury-- to say thanks, just in case anyone is listening. But I still don't know.

    Why me?


    Last edited by Khatsalano; 09-14-2009 at 06:00 PM.
    C5 Burst Fracture - Motorcycle - June 21st, 2009 - Father's Day.

  2. #2
    Senior Member MarkPals's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Butte, Montana
    You are one lucky SOB. I am very happy for you. Hope you continue to improve.

    All the best,

  3. #3
    WOW!! That's amazing--keep up the great work.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    last house on the left
    Very happy for you. You definitely had a lucky "break!"

  5. #5
    Thank you for sharing your amazing story and thank you for visit this web site. Good luck in your law school

  6. #6
    You are incredibly lucky! Thanks for sharing your story.


  7. #7
    coolbreeze c6/7

    Keep on moving don't stop!

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Melbourne, FL USA
    This one protective action could have been the difference.

    "Some guy named Nick helped stabilized my neck and refused to let the other civilians move me--"

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Damn...count your blessings everyday!You are incredibly lucky,you were totally given a second chance to really live.Best wishes for even more recovery!

  10. #10
    That is amazing and inspiring. Keep up the great work.

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