More than being unable to walk
So, now I lay there.
The day before, I hurried to the cable car, as I had overslept.
It is still shocking and fascinating at the same time what a small fracture in the wrong place in the body can do.
Diagnosis of paraplegia! Caused by a comminuted fracture of the 6th cervical vertebra.
The bone splinters severed my spinal cord. Almost ironic that I had never broken anything before. And in this accident, too, it was "only" this one small bone, but with devastating consequences.
The day after my accident, my parents and my best friends came to see me in the intensive care unit. This despair on their faces, the helplessness. No wonder, the sight of me was certainly not so easy to cope with. As I lay there. Connected to machines.
I smiled at her. "It's not that bad, everything will be fine," I said.
My goal was clear: to be able to sit in a wheelchair soon. Because at that point I was only able to move my head and no one knew exactly how my condition would improve.
At the time, of course, I wasn't aware that there was much more to the diagnosis of paraplegia than not being able to walk and that I had a long and hard road ahead of me.
After 8 years and 7 months in a wheelchair I am now an expert and know exactly what a spinal cord injury entails.
As you can see on the x-rays, my 6th cervical vertebra shattered into multiple pieces from the impact. These splinters caused damage to the spinal cord.
In order to stabilize my cervical spine again, the splinters were removed in an emergency operation and the vertebra was replaced with a piece of pelvic bone. In addition, the whole thing was screwed to a plate from the 5th to the 7th cervical vertebra. I even want to imagine this op. It's amazing what doctors can do. Since that day I have a 6 cm long scar on my neck.
Paraplegia is such a complex subject and no two injuries are the same. But I want to try to explain what happens in the body
Motor and sensory nerve fibers run in the spinal cord. Muscle paralysis occurs due to injury to the nerve fibers that carry motor signals from the brain to the limbs. So I'm thinking of moving my legs, but the information can't be relayed.
Destruction of sensory nerve fibers causes loss of sensations such as touch, pressure, pain, and temperature. For example, I have to be careful when showering that the water is not too hot. Otherwise I would burn myself without realizing it.
What is less well known is that spinal cord injury also severely impairs bodily functions such as the bladder and bowel, blood pressure and temperature regulation. It is precisely these lesser-known consequences of the injury that make life with a spinal cord injury so difficult. such as B. I'm always cold in winter because my body can't warm up and in summer there's a risk of heat stroke because I can't sweat.
There are at least 250,000 acute spinal cord injuries annually worldwide.
The main cause is not extreme sports, as many believe, but accidents in everyday life. It can happen to anyone. For a few years I have been holding information groups for newly injured people in the rehabilitation center in Bad Häring and it is incredible what stories one hears there. Paraplegia from falling off the stove bench, slipping in the bathroom, falling off the swing.
53% of these accidents lead to paraplegia, 47% to tetraplegia.
One speaks of paraplegia when the trunk muscles and lower limbs are affected by the paralysis. Tetraplegia affects the trunk muscles and all 4 limbs.
Basically, the higher the injury site, the worse.
I have what is called quadriplegia. All 4 limbs are affected and the paralysis starts above the chest. That means I can neither move my legs nor my fingers. The triceps are also affected.
I know this all sounds pretty bad and it is. But in my next blog entry I will tell you how I felt after the diagnosis, how I managed to lead an almost independent and happy life again and why I still never give up hope of healing.
All the best,