Spinal Cord Injury

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Spinal Cord Injury
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    Donald J

    How Distracted Drivers Can Endanger Someone With a Spinal Cord Injury

    My spinal cord injury journey started with a fall in my own home in 2019.  I was sitting in my recliner chair watching a movie with my legs propped one behind the other.  As I sat relaxing and enjoying my weekend afternoon, my left leg went, unknowingly, completely numb.  After a period of about one hour, I started to stand up and the plan was to go to the kitchen less than 10 feet away and get an ice-cold glass of tea.  I never made it to the kitchen. When I attempted to stand, my left leg gave out and my body completely collapsed to the hard tile floor.  I jarred my cervical spine in my neck and felt extreme pain instantaneously.  I sat on the floor for a moment and attempted to stand.  My leg numbness persisted and would not support my weight.  So, I remained on the floor until I regained feeling.  It took a few minutes but eventually, the feeling came back, and I was able to place myself back in my chair.  I did not realize what I had done at the time.  I thought it was a standard sprain in my neck and I felt with time it would heal. After a couple of weeks, the pain did not improve.  I had trouble turning my head to the left.  This concerned me as I use the maneuver to do things like look over my left shoulder while driving and checking for oncoming traffic.  When the injury did not heal, I presented to my family physician and described my symptoms, and I informed her of my fall.  I was advised to seek out yoga and get a massage. Over a period of several weeks, I did as I was instructed.  I noticed that when the masseuse was massaging my neck primarily at the base of my skull, there was a burning sensation in that area.  I did not understand what this meant at the time. The house I lived in at the time was a two-story structure with stairs between the first and second floors.  This quickly became problematic.  I began to experience weakness on the left side of my body which also happened to be where my injury was in my neck.  This problem was exhibited in the form of multiple falls down the stairs, reinjuring my cervical spine every time I fell, and it was excruciating.  I repeatedly injured my elbows, arms, and legs as well and ended up with bruises.  Finally, the last time I fell down the stairs, I informed my wife I wished to sell the home as I was tired of navigating the stairwell. After all this time, I kept complaining to my doctor over several visits that I was falling and experiencing bilateral body weakness primarily in my arms.  My spine was never imaged while under the care of that practice, so my injury went unknown and untreated.  Two years passed by.  I would frequently feel dizzy and had other falls.  I began to use a walking cane and finally ended up using a wheelchair that had been approved by my health insurance.  And yet, the pieces were never connected. In 2021, I saw an independent doctor from my disability attorney.  He immediately noticed problems with my body upon examination and inquired as to whether I had an MRI of my spine.  I told him no.  His next advice was to see a neurologist and demand one.  I did as instructed.  Finally, after MRI, I was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury in my cervical spine from C3-C7.   All my doctors could do was apologize and send me to a neurosurgeon.  I left the practice that missed my diagnosis and sought other care. Upon examination of my imaging and physical, the surgeon reluctantly stated that he could not help me, to let no one touch my neck, and he told me he felt sad for me and apologized.  I felt lost.  What was next for me?  Paralysis?  My mind began to wander into unhealthy thoughts of what my future looked like. Then, in 2022, I was in a car accident where I was rear-ended by a distracted driver in a pickup truck.  I was struck from behind in my small SUV and instantly received whiplash and a splitting headache.  I ended up in urgent care and received more imaging.  The doctors discovered that my spinal injury had worsened, and my spinal bones were pressing against my spinal cord and the nerves inside it causing further dysfunction.  I was told by the doctors that one more hit like that could “snap” my neck and it would be lights out. Now, I drive even more cautiously.  I frequently check my mirrors and can exhibit anxiety over what could potentially be another accident.  I have considered no longer being behind the wheel.  However, that would not save me in the event of being involved in an accident as a passenger in a vehicle with another driver.  I try not to dwell on what other drivers are doing and focus on my task at hand.  I am, however, always on guard.  I always play defense behind the wheel, for even another minor accident inducing whiplash could be my undoing. I feel like it is always a matter of time before getting entangled with another distracted driver.  With millions of cars on the road and opportunities everywhere for people to not be paying attention to what they are doing, I just hope that my injury remains unaffected.  But I feel the clock is ticking.  So, to other drivers on the road, please, please devote your full attention to driving when you’re behind the wheel.  Even what would seemingly be a minor accident can have disastrous effects on other people.

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    Tuesday Giggles 😂

    <p>Tuesday Giggles 😂</p>
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    Community Voices
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    Community Voices

    Today I found out that on Monday, May 16, I'll start the #hasci program at Thrive Upstate. HASCI means Head and Spinal Cord Injury.

    5 people are talking about this
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    I'm new here!

    Hi, my name is ElliesMom. I’m new to The Mighty and look forward to sharing my story.



    #RheumatoidArthritis I was diagnosed with RA at age 24 and am now 75, fibro about 30 years ago. Lots of pain chapters--I learned from a priest friend who was also chronically ill to say--instead of I am fine--Glory to God in all things .I have been blessed with docs who "get it." I have been on Enbrel since it first came out and it got me out of a wheelchair. Sadly to say pain and its results have lead to a fall that resulted in a small spinal cord injury and fused c-3-c-7. Another caused a broken ankle on which I have had two surgeries and yet another in which I sustained a broken hip. Needless to say, I have my own internal weather report. My children were raised with me reading to them in my bed because in bed was all I could do--to having several years of leading a Brownie Troop from a wheelchair and to being forcibly retired from a job I loved when the RA got so bad..... BUT I am blessed to be able to babysit my beautiful grand daughters, drive a car, live on my own (after the falls my house was renovated to help prevent falls by my best and dearest friend.) I have a joyful life with various ways to adjust to my health. My doc says "You're in great shape for the shape you're in." PS Ellie is my little 4 1/2 pound dog who things she is a rottweiler!

    3 people are talking about this
    Sarah Eades

    Illuminating the Dark Side of Life With Chronic Illness

    Today, I am writing a blog post that I’ve been wanting to write for a while but have just been putting on the back burner. But, now is as good a time as any to finally share it with you. Often, when someone is diagnosed with a chronic illness, the symptoms develop unexpectedly. The shock of being healthy to all of a sudden being unwell, with having your life change overnight, can be overwhelming. People often go through a period of grief over a life that has forever been changed and a future with so much uncertainty. Life can often feel like it is out of control. My life was just starting to get back on track after my divorce and my recovery from my spinal cord injury was going amazing. I progressed from a wheelchair to a cane, to just a brace. “My life seemed to be perfect,” as I had thought, at one time. But, what is perfect? It’s weird how we do that when things are good. We will say, “Oh, this is perfect.” But it’s so perceptive to the time. Then, just like the track my life had been on, it came to a hurtling stop and crashed when I got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I had known there was something going on and I had this gut feeling that I had MS but, I kept telling myself that I didn’t and that I would be just fine. That it was just AA or CES or that I was tired. I had every emotion you can think of. I was happy because now I knew what was going on, pissed because I had worked so hard to get where I was with my spinal cord injury and I thought all my hard work was for nothing, and sad and lost because had I no idea what this disease was going to do to my body or what was going to happen next. All I knew was the worst of the worst about it and that I needed to be put on a disease-modifying drug for the rest of my life. After I found out, that day, I sat in my car alone for hours, not wanting to go home with all the things the doctor told me repeating in my head. I sat there, researching anything I could to help me gain an understanding of what I was going through. I found a support group and that was one of my saving graces — having people that were going through the same thing. As with a lot of people with chronic illnesses, it is hard to talk about what you are going through to other people in our lives. Sometimes, it’s because people just don’t understand what you’re going through or because sometimes it is nice to have someone else to talk to who is outside your immediate family. It’s also nice to just be part of a family that’s full of people just like you who are going through exactly the same thing. Where you can share your ups and downs. Your questions. Your good days and bad days. In this world, we can be ourselves, share the good, the bad, and the ugly with each other, and no one will judge one another because we have all been there. After you’re diagnosed with chronic illnesses, there are gonna be some bad days. When you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness, it usually isn’t pretty. You have to deal with a lot of difficult stuff. You have countless days where you have no energy, and face an ongoing fight with your body to keep it healthy. This is the dark side of our illness. This is the part we like to keep tucked away. Who wants to share about the bad days and the hard stuff? So, most of the time, we keep what’s going on with us close to the chest. Having a chronic illness can impact a person’s ability to live their lives the way they otherwise would. Chronic pain is commonly associated with chronic illnesses, as well as enduring fatigue. Even on days that aren’t overtaken by pain and chronic fatigue, we often have a limited amount of energy and reserve for the day. We have to be very careful in deciding what to spend our energy on. Every activity and task we do throughout our day will drain that energy. The truth is, most people aren’t privy to the daily struggles of someone with a chronic illness. Unless they are your family or you are very close to them, you will normally only see one side of their life. The side we show, naturally, tends to be on the better days. I tend to not go out much when I’m sick or even let others really know when I am. When we have better days, no one wants to focus on what their body is going through and the symptoms they are still experiencing. They just want to have a good day! I know I don’t. When I’m having a good day and my body isn’t fighting back with me, I want to make the most of it. I don’t talk about how I’m feeling or what’s been going on with my MS unless I am asked. Even then, I’d often downplay it because I didn’t want to make things about me or feel pity when I told them what was going on. I just want to have fun like everyone else. We all do, we don’t want to talk about the crap we have to live with all day long. We just want to enjoy ourselves and spend time with our friends and family. Instead, I choose to enjoy myself when I can and I look good while doing so! If you didn’t know me, you wouldn’t know that I had a chronic illness. Most chronic illnesses are invisible; there can be no instantly recognizable symptoms or signs of sickness. On the surface, we can look completely fine or just have something that slightly gives away our hidden struggles. But, otherwise, no one knows the battle we wage with our body day in and day out. This can be a double-edged sword for most people with chronic illnesses. We all like to look nice when we can. We all want to look good and “presentable.” I know if I can help it I don’t want to look like a hot mess. But, it can be incredibly frustrating or feel dismissive to hear people say, “You don’t look sick,” even if the sentiment is well-intentioned. But we are… Most of us have become used to ignoring ignorance, smiling through the pain, and getting on with it. On the days when this isn’t possible, you’ll find us at home, in bed, on our couches, and battling the monsters within. Resting, trying to regain the energy to get back to our lives. We have resigned to this reality in which we exist. This is this dark side of chronic illness which is not always easily shared or shown. But, to every dark side, there is a light side battling back, evening out the world we live in. Remember to look for the good through the bad. Soak in the good days and make the most of each moment.