Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Accident

Many of you know that I was in a car accident, but you may not know how the accident happened. I don't remember anything about it; only what I've heard from others. I guess we were going 60 mph and trying to make an exit. We were going way too fast for the circumstances and the car, a mini SUV, started rolling. The top of the car hit some sort of sign or pole while rolling, crushing the roof in, and then landed back on it's wheels. It was a single car accident.

There were five of us in the car and I was behind the driver's seat. Although I did break my neck and injure my spinal cord, it could've been a lot worse. I did have my seatbelt on, which probably saved my life. The other four people in the car sustained mostly minor injuries except for one person whose neck broke but didn't injure the spinal cord and was in a coma for a month and a half. Everyone has recovered and they are doing remarkably well.

Because the car was crushed, they had to use the Jaws of life to cut me out. I was airlifted to HC MC hospital. From there I began my journey to where I am today. A factor that always seems to amaze me is who was behind the car when the accident happened. In the first car was a woman who called 911. I ended up meeting her a few times while in the hospital. I don't know how the order goes on these last two but in one of the cars was an ER nurse who had just gotten off of work. The other was a doctor going to a high school football game who said that he hadn't taken that road in two years. All three helped in some way to save my life. Coincidence? No one will ever know.

If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments section or e-mail me. I'll try to answer them as best I can.


"Every tragedy contains the seeds of triumph."
-Scott Sorrell


quekjl86 said...

hope u had a great wkend... 1st time hearin ur accident after i told u mine.. :) take care


Matthew Smith said...

I read that C1 or C2 patients rarely survive unless someone gives them mouth-to-mouth at the scene until they can be put on a vent. Is that what happened with you?

Anonymous said...

In an earlier post you said that you can feel and move your toes. How is that possible? I was under the influence that when you injure your spinal cord that high, you can feel nothing below the injury. Can you explain?

Jenni said...

It really doesn't matter where the injury to the spinal cord is in order to have feeling and movement. The key thing is how much the spinal cord is damaged. You are right, most people with an injury as high as mine would not have the abilities that I do. However, someone who is unable to feel and move is considered a complete spinal cord injury which means their spinal cord has been severed (completely cut in half). In my case, I have an incomplete spinal cord injury which means my spinal cord is only bruised or partly cut. There are still some signals going through.

That leads me to Matt's question. When the accident first happen, I was still breathing. Probably because my spinal cord wasn't badly damaged. However, with that type of injury comes swelling. The swelling surrounding the injury actually strangled the spinal cord, causing me to stop breathing. This didn't occur until I was in the helicopter on my way to the hospital.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenni, I asked this in a much older post so I doubt you've seen it. With your type of injury, can you get some type of diaphragm pacer to work in place of the vent?

Matthew Smith said...

To Anonymous (Sept 18):

See the comments to this recent entry.

Jenni said...

Thanks Matt.

Yes, I have looked into getting one and it is possible. I just don't know if I'm ready to do something like that yet. Hopefully someday though.

Matthew Smith said...

Also, to anonymous, there are various things that people have to consider when getting one of these pacemakers fitted. I read an article about Hilary Lister (a British quadriplegic woman who recently completed a round-Britain sailing voyage) and one distressing aspect of it was her intermittent care - she is left alone for large parts of the day, and although she has a computer and a device which controls the TV, the front door and various other things, she can't get up to relieve herself, make a drink or anything else until her carers, or husband, come back home. She is also prone to stopping breathing. This is the polar opposite of the privacy issue Jenni has written about in the past and is probably more dangerous and frightening, and it reminded me of an earlier entry Jenni wrote in which she mentioned how she was sometimes glad she had the care that having a vent necessitated.

It's a good job that the state, the insurance industry or whoever pays for care can't currently induce someone to have a pacemaker so that they can cut back on care. They might even leave people reliant on family to do all their personal care for them. Money men don't care about your family relationships and how they are impacted by your sister or mother having to do intimate nurse work every day. They also don't care, for example, about the dangers of leaving a female quad home alone for the same hours every day. It's not their responsibility.

Sorry for talking over you and if I've frightened you Jenni, but I wanted to make it clear to this person that it's not a simple decision. Also, I notice that you've never brought this issue up here yourself or complained about your vent on your blog (or even on your old CaringBridge site).

Anonymous said...

Hmm, that's an ineresting point of view, Matthew, that I didn't consider. So what you're saying is:
1. Using a pacemaker in place of a vent means less care, and
2. With less care comes more opportunity for danger.

That's strange (to me, since I don't have any real experience with this) that the pacemaker would be considered "safer." I just figured it would be more convenient, without considering any logistics.

Sorry, Jenni, for hijacking your comments section on this post. Your blog provides a unique forum for this type of discussion, though.