My spinal injury
I dislocated and broke vertebrae c5-c6. C7 is the one that usually pokes out the most, so it’s the two above that. My spinal cord was squashed and emergency surgery was performed to release the pressure. 4 screws and a plate were inserted as well as bone from my hip to fuse that part of my neck.
The further up the neck you hurt the less movement you have.
With my level of injury I have movement in my neck, shoulders, upper back muscles, biceps. I have half my wrist that work, and pec minor works but pec major doesn’t. Despite having movement in my arms I am still a quadriplegic (There are different levels).
My fingers don’t move at all (not one little bit), as well as my stomach, lower back muscles, and of course my legs. I also have no control over my bladder and bowels.
I have flickers in my triceps and even though I hope for these to keep improving, flickers don’t necessarily mean the muscle will regain full function.
I have normal feeling to just above my nipple line. One side of each arm feels normal with the elbow side feeling numb, I can hit my elbow and not even know. If I hold my hands out away from my body with thumbs up, and you ran a string from index finger to index finger, everything above this I can feel normally and everything below this is numb sensation. So My thumbs have normal sensation, my index finger is 50-50 but after this I can’t feel.
There are some other places down the rest of my body where, when touched, there is a pins and needles sensation. One of these places is my feet. But I can’t feel my skin, I can’t feel hot or cold, and I can’t feel pain (which isn’t a bad thing sometimes haha).
Other Perks of a Spinal Cord Injury
Other than the obvious limitations in movement, there are a lot of other inconveniences with spinal cord injuries that before my accident I wouldn’t have known.
Temperature – My body can’t regulate its own temperature. Meaning when I go outside and its cold/hot my body can’t heat/cool itself back to normal temperature. I learnt this the hard way when I went outside on a reasonably cool day with just a t-shirt on, my temperature dropped to hypothermic levels and I had to be wrapped in a space blanket for a couple of hours.
Spasm – Messages sent to my brain below the area of injury are blocked by scar tissue and nerve damage, so when my body is stimulated below the level of injury it causes my body to spasm. This is very noticeable when a muscle is stretched, when my legs are moved, and when some sort of pain occurs below the level of injury. This makes sleeping difficult when my legs are stretched out, doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in my chair knowing a spasm can happen at anytime, and makes transferring hard. But most of all it is annoying and uncomfortable.
Pressure sores – Are caused by lack of movement, or pressure on an area for an extended period of time. As I’m sitting on my arse for most of the day if I don’t pressure release every 2 hours or so I will get a pressure sore. I pressure release by either putting my head between my knees for a minute or by going side to side taking weight off each butt cheek for a while. Pressure sores can leave people in bed for months going from one side of their body to the other, unable to get up in there chair. I had to do this for a week when I had a minor pressure sore caused by a seam in my pants.
Catheter – I have no control over my bladder and have to use a catheter every time I go to the toilet. Catheter with an extension tubing into the toilet. Because I’m putting a catheter down my penis all the time I am very susceptible to urinary infections.
Bowels – I can’t just jump onto a toilet when I want to. It is a very regimented process, certain medication is taken at different times to ensure I can go at a certain time of the day. It takes me at least an hour to go to the toilet and to have a shower.
Dysreflexia – Is a medical emergency that causes head aches, profuse sweating, flushing of the skin above the level of injury, anxiety, and high blood pressure which can lead to a stroke. The causes of dysreflexia can be a blocked catheter, constipation, urinary infection, injury below the area of injury and reaction to medication, an ingrown toe nail can even cause dysreflexia.
Fat gut – Always was fit and kept myself in good shape now I have a fat gut as I have no muscles in my stomach to keep my insides in there.