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Thread: Injured friend

  1. #1

    Injured friend

    This weekend, my best friend Caitlin suffered a spinal cord injury while swimming. She dove into a lake and apparently hit her head on some rocks. I'm not all that clear what happened yet, I've sort of been in a state of shock since Friday.I was the one who pulled her out of the lake when she was drowning, and she said she couldn't move or feel anything. She hasn't woken up yet after she went through surgery, but the doctors expect her to pull through. I don't really know all the details(I can't follow the medical details all that well), but the doctors said she had a C4/5 injury. She's only 16 and we've been friends for almost 8 years now, and I'm completely shellshocked. She was so healthy and full of life that day, I can't believe this happened. I'm honestly not that good with intense emotions, and I really don't know how I'll talk to her when she wakes up. I was looking on the net and found this site, and figured maybe the people here would be able to help me a little. I know I'm probably rambling, but thanks if you're listening.


  2. #2
    Senior Member McDuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Dallas area, Tx
    Whooee, where to start. First, I am so very sorry to hear about your friend Caitlin. This is a terrible thing to happen to anyone, especially so young.
    The best thing that you can do is to remain her friend. I was injured in september and have lost a few people I thought were good friends. They just couldn't handle seeing me for whatever reason. A couple visited once and a couple never have visited. Luckily I do have good friends who are like you, only want the best for me and will visit as often as possible.
    A lot of what you can do for her won't show up until she comes around. It will depend on how she takes the news, and I won't presume to know how she will react. We are all different. Take your cues from her and let her know you are there for her no matter what.
    There are some rough times ahead, my best wishes for Caitlin. You are getting a good start by coming here, I am sure you will get more informative answers from others soon.
    She has a good friend in you Jason.

    "Rather be ridin' than rollin'"

  3. #3
    First of all...let me say that I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I know that this is extremely traumatic for you as well. My friends had a rough time when I was injured last August, but they stuck with me...they pushed me to never give up, to keep trying, and to stay positive. Be there for your any way that she wants you to. Tell jokes, smile, learn as much as you can about her injury and start looking for things that the two of you can still do together once she's released from the hospital and rehab. Thoughts and prayers for both you and your friend from North Carolina.

    "Another day that I can't find my head...My feet don't look like they're my own...I'll try and find the floor below to stand...I hope I reach it once again" ~Norah Jones

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Covington, Georgia
    Hi Jason,

    I'm very sorry to hear about your friend Caitlin, but it seems she has a wonderful friend in you. I was injured last August and a couple things my friends did really hurt my feelings.While I was in the hospital and for the first couple months I was home, only one of my friends visited me. I'm not sure if they were scared to see me like that or what, but it really upset me. Visit her as often as you can.
    Second was that anytime I told my feelings to friends-and yes, they were negative feelings!-my friends would say that they didn't want to hear that or that I shouldn't think that way, or something of the sort. Even if her thoughts are hard for you to deal with, just be there and listen!!You don't have to agree with her, but she will need someone to voice those feelings to!!

    I'm sure others will give you great advice also, but those were my 2 biggest problems when I was first injured. Good luck to you and Caitlin and remember...she's still your good friend Caitlin whether she can walk or not!!

  5. #5
    Jason, I am so glad you found this site. There are wonderful people here who can provide the information you need, and later, a large and strong support group for Caitlin. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions at all. As the others have said, the most important thing you can do is to remain a close friend. There are too many fair weather "friends" out there that abandon people when an injury such as this happens.

    Being there, no matter how she may react to her injury, is so important. Don't be surprised if she takes some of her anger about this out on is normal, and sometimes people unconsciously test the strength of your love and care for her by being rejecting. Don't take it personally if this should happen to you too.

    You did not say where in the country you and Caitlin are. It is so important that she be cared for in a major SCI center ASAP (if she is not at one already). She must get moved to one soon if she is not. Let us know where she is, and we can recommend good places for rehab. This often takes a fight with insurance companies, etc. so you may be able to be a source of information for both her and her family in this area.

    Please keep in touch here and let us know how things going with your friend.


  6. #6
    Senior Member zillazangel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    North Carolina, USA
    Wow Jason, you are certainly going through alot of emotions right now.

    First, pat yourself on the back for SAVING Caitlin's life. It gives me goosebumps to think of it because that is *exactly* what happened to my fiance - he dove into a lake at age 19 and hit his head on the bottom and broke his neck at C4 and nearly drowned before a friend pulled him out of the water. I met him 16 years later, but I can visualize his story so well and reading your/Caitlin's story just gives me chills.

    Second, it will be ok. No matter what happens from here on out, it will be ok. Her parents and her doctors will undoubtedly take care of getting her to a good facilty for treatment and rehabilitation (and point them here if they need help finding places). As Caitlin starts to wake up and realize the gravity and magnitude of what has happened to her, just listen. And BE THERE for her. She will try to deliberately push you away probably just to test you, to see if she can make you go away. But stay, be a friend. And make sure you stay, and be there long term after the "novelty" wears off and all of the initial visitors and extended family go home. My finace said that was hard, the part when people stopped visiting and he was mostly alone.

    But mostly, TAKE CARE OF YOU. Talk to your parents about how you feel, post here, and just take care of yourself. You can only help Ciatlin if you are well yourself emotionally.

    You are a fine young man Jason, hugs to you.


  7. #7
    Senior Member teesieme's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    back home in mn.
    Hi Jason. Yes, I too am sorry this has happened to your friend Caitlin, her family and you. As said, just try to be there for her as often as you can or otherwise, I say otherwise because I remember how while my son was in the hospital, the schedule there allowed for his own personal time and therapy, and a schedule that friends knew to work with~ whereas when we came home, there were adjustments to be made around him and with him, his body adjusting and all, it became a situation where the friends that called and wanted to come out to the house didn't have any idea when to come, and we didn't really know when exactly to tell them either for awhile there...the house became too quiet that first month at home, I was like what the hey??? So in this Jason, in all honesty, she may be having to go through so much that it will be the patience of the friend who can adjust his life some around hers that will be the best there is for her. I think it might be you, with your searching for help already~

    Even if she comes to a point that she says she doesn't want to do anything or visit otherwise, keep asking or at the very least and most, keep in touch~

    And don't give up...don't let her give up, but yeah be there to listen too, sometimes we just have to pour our hearts out, and a hand reaching out to touch us is enough, a hug otherwise. Time will tell and with time, things can get better. The Nurse is right, help your friend and her family with all that you learn, copy what you read to give to them and just be you as you always have been to her.

    I think for my son, with all the friends that did visit and continued to except for that brief period once home at first, well, they had lost two students/friends, two graduating years in a row, Harry would have been their came to a day that he broke down and cried as to why and if he could go on if it were to always be so different... well, I asked him that day, if he could have his best friend back (the first of the two seniors) going through what he was going through would he want that instead of his death? He said yes, he would want his friend, no matter what and he would have been there for him, no matter what...he would have.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Broknwing's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Central Florida

    Wow! You are a wonderful friend. You've already reached out for her. There is a lot that she will be going through. I had my accident in Nov & six months later I am still trying to get used to everything. When she wakes up & is told what happened/what her condition is, she may not understand right away, it may seem surreal. I remember being told, but don't remember anything else, once I did really start coming to I still didn't realize what was going on. I can't repeat this strongly enough---GET HER TO A SCI REHAB CENTER THAT IS CARF ACCREDITED FOR SCI!!! I was not at one, I didn't even realize I had any options about it until I was out of rehab for a while & started reading info on this site. You are being a great, wonderful friend for finding this info for Caitlin. Don't be shy to ask any questions, there is a lot of love & care on this board, not to mention the knowledge & insight. My family was wonderful, they were there consistantly. I am very greatful for that. While I was in the hospital from my accident, I had a lot of visitors, even though I don't remember much about who visited when. It was reassuring that they were there & cared. When I was moved to rehab, my visitors dwindled quickly. I believe a large part of that was that the rehab center was not very encouraging to visitors. There was a schedule to be kept(which they didn't inform me what & where I needed to be when) and visitors screwed that up....If she doesn't have insurance, don't let them be intimidating, don't let them threaten her or her family.
    I hope some of what I have said has been helpful somehow. She needs you, even when she thinks that she doesn't, she does. Take care of yourself, the hospital can offer counseling services for you if you need them. I can't imagine what it would be like being in your place. You went through a traumatic experience, besides her injury & the forthcoming circumstances, you were there when it happened. YOU saved her life. You are one amazing young man.
    Keep us all informed of her progress


  9. #9
    Thanks, everyone. Someone's got to look for info, I guess. Caitlin's parents are even more shellshocked and scared than I am, obviously, and Caitlin, usually the smart, responsible one here, is in a morphine-induced coma. So I guess it falls to the skater boy. Right now she's in a hospital with a great spinal trauma unit, but for rehab, I really don't know where to look. I heard about Shepherd, but that's the Harvard of rehab centers, and there's a pretty big chance that there won't be an open spot. What are the other good ones and where are they? We're in North Carolina. I tried to get Caitlin's parents to look online for information too, but her mother just started sobbing and her father yelled at me to stop upsetting his wife. I guess I can't blame them for acting like this. Everyone reacts differently. Some people shut down when a tragedy happens, I just go into hyper-responsible mode, trying to do everything. Not that I've been a model citizen since Friday. Yesterday, I nearly got into at least three fistfights with some idiots at school who were trying to get me to go to their end-of-year keggars to "take my mind off shit". I know they didn't mean anything by it, but I'm just really touchy right now. Ever since Friday, the unfairness of the whole thing has just made me want to punch in a wall. Caitlin did everything right. For all the time we've been friends, she's been the responsible one who never got in trouble and had a 4.0 GPA, and I've been the idiot who moons the cops. But she makes one stupid mistake, and she winds up a quadriplegic.Life sucks sometimes, but then, I guess you've all been there in some form or another.Anyway, the silver lining in all of this is that Caitlin is stable. The doctors are going to bring her out of the coma tomorrow. They've already given her parents the doom and gloom speech, saying her spinal cord was crushed and she'll likely be completely paralyzed from the shoulders down for life. The tests show the same thing, But I can't accept that yet. She's an incredibly tough girl, and if anyone can fight their way back to some recovery, it's her. At least, I hope so. It's about to get a lot harder once she wakes up. Her mom wants to be the one to tell her, but I'm going to be there too. She's lost pretty much everything she based her life around till now.She was so excited about getting her driver's license this summer, and that's obviously not going to happen. I'm going to try my hardest to put all my feelings aside for now and be there for Caitlin. Hell, no matter how hard this is going to be for me, she's the one who's hurt.

  10. #10
    Senior Member McDuff's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Dallas area, Tx
    Jason, here is a link to a listing of some of the best rehab hospitals according to USNews:

    Rehab Hospitals

    Here is the page "above" that listing other types of rankings:


    Looks like y'all may have to travel aways to get to any of these I'm afraid, but may be worthwhile. Or maybe someone else can list some closer to you.

    Hang in there dude, somebody has to keep their s**t together to keep it all straight.

    About your statement "her spinal cord was crushed": Crushed is a catch all word. Two things count(someone correct me if I mislead); Was the cord cut/severed? This is a sure sign of premanent damage. If not then there is the possibility of some return. Second, is the cord "still" being compressed(crushed)? If this is true the doctors need to do decompression surgery to relieve the pressure. This would allow the best possible chance of any return.
    My cord was "crushed", I was sitting at a red light on my motorcycle and was rearended by a car doing ~50mph. Technically a "T10 burst fracture". But it wasn't cut and I have some feeling and some motor function return. Nothing really useful yet but you never know.
    So get the docs to be specific about the injury.

    Later, McD

    "Rather be ridin' than rollin'"

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