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Thread: My Story All The Posts Combined

  1. #1
    Senior Member darty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Las Vegas, NV

    My Story All The Posts Combined

    Hi everyone,

    I have been reading this board over the past year and would like to tell the short version of my story in hopes it will help someone avoid making the mistakes I did and perhaps save some people some unnecessary pain. If it is to boring just respond and I will stop and maybe put it in a book.

    I was injured in 1980 due to sleeping and driving at the same time, O.K. that’s lessen one don’t sleep and drive. I don’t remember much except waking up some 17 hours later in a small suburban hospital ER. I’m not sure if the paramedics took me there the fire department or who or even if they knew I had a spinal cord injury. My right knee was badly gashed open, my head was split open from my right temple toward the center of my skull and straight back about six inches, my nose was cut and broken and I had a C4-C5 dislocation with the spinal vertebra hooked on each other (my spine was like an S).

    My parents asked this small suburban hospitals ER doc “what would you do if he was your son” without hesitation he said I should go to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago which also is affiliated with the Rehab Institute of Chicago (RIC).
    Later that day off I went to Northwestern in a special equipped ambulance set up for any emergency, see they thought and told my family that I would probably not live through the night.

    Now a couple of things bother me about how I was treated, my family asked over and over about treatment and were told there is none, no one wanted to touch me, no one would even put an ice bag on my neck. Telling my family I would not live was a gross miscalculation on their part, they must not have realized that I was a tough, hard headed Irish, German kid and my family was to.

    I spent the next two weeks on a striker frame (if you have never been on one your missing a real treat) with tongs screwed into my skull and weights added for traction to try and get my dislocated neck back in place. Weights were added until I had 68 pounds pulling on me, it was so heavy it would slide me up on the striker frame and I would need to be pulled down, one nurse would hold my neck and the other would use the sheet to pull me back down.

    Near the end of my second week on the striker frame contraption they came on to pull me back down in bed and when they did it I heard a crack and felt a pop. One nurse ran to get the Doctor who ordered an x-ray which confirmed my neck had snapped back into alignment. Over the next few days the weights were slowly removed and I went off to neurosurgery.
    Last edited by darty; 11-20-2005 at 06:25 PM. Reason: Combined posts

  2. #2
    Senior Member queen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Garden on the Green, Indiana
    Good reading here,,,you can feel the tension building...cause you never know if the medical professionals really know what they are doing to us.

    I can't believe the 68lbs.!
    Your life is what you make it, and only you have that choice!

  3. #3
    please continue ... I would like to learn from your experience

  4. #4
    Senior Member darty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Las Vegas, NV

    My Story (The short version) Part #2

    Just a few words about the striker frame for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, it is a two piece circular bed where you lay on your back for two hours and when it’s time to turn they bolt another bed on top of you to make a sandwich then rotate you and remove the bed you were laying on. I spent two weeks on this torture bed turning every two hours and will never forget it. During one turn in my first week the nurses were in a hurry and turned me quickly not the slow controlled movement they usually used and my complete left side went numb, pins and needles shot down my side and to this day my left side is worse than my right.

    I was taken down to surgery while face down on the striker frame two Doctors, Dr. Leonard Sarillio a neuro surgeon and Dr. Paul Meyer an orthopedic surgeon performed my posterior decompression and stabilization. It’s a lot of mumbo jumbo but basically they had a neuro surgeon and a bone Doctor operate from the back of my neck, take a bone out of my left lower leg and use it to stabilize C4, C5, and C6 by fusing them together, no decompression was done at the time.

    When I woke up I was in a soft hospital bed on an egg crate mattress with a plastic some brace snapped around my neck, shoulders and upper body so I could not move my head. After two weeks laying in the hospital bed it was time to ship me off to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) which was and still is one of the highest ranked rehab centers in the United States.

    Why did they just let me lay around for a month before any type of rehab? Why didn’t they do anything about the swelling of my spinal cord? The answer is status quo, no one would deviate from the standard of care which in 1980 was to just let you lie around for a month then operate then go to rehab and learn how to live in a chair.

    At RIC I was put in a room with three other guys, each day we had a schedule of therapy and classes to attend. There was no TV in our rooms so you had to watch as a group in the main TV room on each floor. My injury was bad and I could not move a muscle I remember laying in bed and just feeling like a head with no body. Each day in therapy they would range me and try to get some movement out of me, I had PT (physical therapy) and OT (occupational therapy) twice a day, group activities and psychology. I spent four months in rehab (120 days) which is exactly what my insurance would pay for then on that 120th day I was considered rehabilitated and sent home. At the family meeting the day before I was released we were told bluntly by my Doctors, nurses and therapists that I should go home and get comfortable because I would spend most of my time in bed.

    How nice of them to get every penny out of my insurance they could then send me home to my family. In rehab I made very little progress, I worked as hard as I could every day and didn’t improve much. One day in rehab I went through my normal day but has the chills by evening, I asked to be put to bed because I didn’t feel well. I was covered up with several blankets for the chills and left to sleep for a few hours. One nurse who I am still friends with came in to check on me and noticed I had not urinated all day.

    She also noticed that the night before my catheter was changed at 2a.m. She decided to check my catheter and found that it was not in my bladder but the bulb had been inflated in my urethra and was blocking the flow of urine. She removed that catheter and replaced it with a new one which made me start to urinate immediately a mixture of ice tea looking urine and blood.

    After draining my bladder of some 1600cc’s of urine she took my temperature, she read the thermometer the took it again, Immediately I was surrounded by nurses with ice packs and Doctors who were injecting antibiotics into my thigh muscles, when the crowd died down my nurse stayed with me so I asked what my temperature was and she stated it was the highest temp she had ever seen 106.2 degrees. She sat up with me all night and kept wiping me with cold towels and changing ice packs till my fever broke she told me they were worried about my brain function and me having a seizure or stroke. To this day we keep in touch and we laugh about it but she saved my life that night.

    At the time of my release I could move my right arm just a little, shrug my right shoulder a little and that was about it. Our family home was not accessible so while I was in rehab my parents had an accessible addition built with a roll in shower, exercise room with a separate entrance. Rehab had set me up with a hospital bed a patient lift and a power wheelchair. I remember my first day in that old E&J power chair I was up at rehab engineering and they were trying to decide if I should be in a sip and puff chair or could I some how drive this power chair. Back then my power chair was fan belt driven with tilt, head rest, a custom joy stick that I could operate with a splint on my right hand, I had trough arm rest, lateral trunk supports, leg straps and two seatbelts to hold me in. I could barley push the stick to drive this thing but no way was I going in a sip and puff chair, I couldn’t tell you how many walls and doorways I hit because I was too weak to hit the joystick.

  5. #5
    once again thanks for sharing your story ... even though, we went through this experience recently the part about RIC (after 25 years) sounds so familiar

  6. #6
    Rehab is so essential, and a part of it was even fun to me. But to this day I'm astounded to have survived the "nursing care". Please God, never again put me at the mercy of people who are angry to be receiving 6 bucks an hour to stick their finger up my ass!

    Darty, I guess you made it out the other side and lived to tell the tale. I'm glad of that part at least. Thanks.

  7. #7
    Stryker Frame (I am old enough to remember caring for patients on these too...stopped using them in the late 1970s....)

    This is actually a Foster Frame, but they are very similar:

    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 11-16-2005 at 09:49 PM.

  8. #8
    Wow. Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by betheny
    Please God, never again put me at the mercy of people who are angry to be receiving 6 bucks an hour to stick their finger up my ass!
    That should be my new signature.

  10. #10
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Thomasville, NC

    I read all the time but rarely post also

    I don't post very often but thought I'd add a little here. I'm a c5,6. Compression fracture exploded c6 and c5 was dislocated in front of c5. I was injured in 1997 an was lucky enough to get a nuero just out of college that talk more experienced neuro into relocating c5 within 12 hours or injury. When they did the relocation they had 72 lbs on forcepts before relocating screws. ended with 98 lbs on forcepts a P.A. on each shoulder pushing one on my head pulling while doc popped vertebrae back in place and still broke one of the pieces of bone that stick down to help keep neck in line. Doc said that theonly reason i'm still alive is because my neck was so strong. Your comment about the 68 lbs made me think about my expereince again.

    Sorry to ramble just hadn't ever heard of anybody who had anywhere near the amount of weight as I required, doc's told me it's usually something like 45 to 50 lbs If i remember correctly.

    If I bored anyone I apologize. I also apologize to darty not tryng to steal your thread.

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