My Broken Neck Story (Quadriplegia)

I get asked a lot about this, so I’ve decided to post the story here. Because I cry so much when trying to write about my ordeal, I’ve had to distance myself as much as possible while writing it. So if it sounds a little cold, that’s why. Sorry it’s so long. This is not the as-condensed-as-it-can-be version, but it’s condensed a lot. I left out a lot of things that aren’t necessary to the story, but it’s still lengthy.

November 10, 2004.

I worked at Briggs & Stratton, a job 65 miles away from my home. It took an hour to get there and an hour to get back. My shift was from 4:00 PM to 12:30 AM. I normally left home at 2:00 because the state of MO was adding another 2 lanes to the highway and causing long delays in my commute. On this day, my husband walked me to the car, where I noticed immediately that the car had a flat tire. Panic set in. I absolutely hated to miss work or be late, and I’d missed four days the previous week because I was sick. It was very important that I got to work and got there on time. I had to hurry.

I called my mom to see if I could borrow her car. Oddly enough (and fortunately for me), my father worked at the same place I did and had carpooled with someone else that week, which meant my mother’s car was available to me. So when my mother agreed to lend me her car, I rushed to her house to get it before finally heading to work, leaving my car with my husband so the tire could be repaired and ready for me the next day.

November 11, 2004.

After working my shift, I clocked out. Any other day, I would’ve stayed 2 or 3 hours overtime, but I was in my mother’s car and didn’t feel right keeping it out later than usual. So I headed home, stopping for gas and cigarettes. The time was 12:45 a.m.

I passed another gas station on my way home. It was there I saw my father and the guy he was carpooling with standing outside the station drinking coffee and talking. Their shift had ended 15 minutes earlier than mine, so they’d left sooner. I passed them and continued home. Perhaps if I had stopped and let my father drive us home, I wouldn’t be telling this story to you now. But I didn’t. So the story continues.

It had been drizzling rain all day. It still was. I was about 15 minutes into the drive home when things went wrong. Coming out of a detour (remember those lane expansions?), the car hydroplaned, sliding across both lanes of the empty highway and onto the opposite shoulder. Gravel clanked angrily at the car’s undercarriage. Everything I had ever learned about driving sprang into my mind.

Don’t hit the brake–tap it.

Turn into the skid, not away from it.

I did all those things. I thought that I could ease back onto the highway and make it home. And it would’ve happened that way…if not for the pile of boulders stacked at the side of the road, put there to keep the rain from eroding the ditch of the newly constructed highway.

Hitting the boulders, the car began to flip. I watched out the windshield as the world went up, then down, and then up again. I somehow managed to count the flips as I watched out the windshield, through the dust and shattered glass and flying debris.

During the first flip, the driver’s side window was busted out, hence the shards of glass flying around my face. On the second flip, I felt my body being pulled toward the open window from the centrifugal force. I knew that on the next flip, I was going to be ejected. But I also knew that if that happened, I would die. And the one thing I absolutely hadn’t planned on doing that day was dying. Sure enough, on the third flip I felt it happening. I was going to go out the window. Determined to keep that from happening, I instinctively put my hands to the missing window, and as the driver’s side of the car rolled across the ground, I put my palms flat on the wet earth and pushed myself back into the car. It all happened so fast, I didn’t realize until much later what I’d done. I had saved my life.

After flipping three and a half times, the car came to rest on its top.

Suddenly, all the chaos and the noise stopped. The world in and around the car went silent but for the CD which was still playing in the stereo. I opened my eyes and tried to assess my situation, fighting back the panic that wanted to consume me. It was dark and I was confused, but there were certain things I knew. I knew that even though I was lying on my right side, sort of, my left leg was lying in front of my face. I knew my body was tingling all over, the feeling you get when your foot has fallen asleep for a long time and starts to wake up. I didn’t know where my arms were because I couldn’t see them or feel them or move them, but beyond all doubt, I knew I was in a whole hell of a lot of trouble.

I’ll lie here for a minute and collect myself, then I’ll crawl out of the car.

I tried to move but couldn’t.

Okay. It’s not a big deal. I’ll just lie here a couple more minutes, and then I’ll get out.

But I still couldn’t move. I told my legs to move, my arms to move, my hands to move, but nothing happened. I couldn’t tell while I was in the car, but later, thinking back on it, I realized that I was lying on the roof of the car on my neck. In the pictures that were taken, I can see all the blood on the dome light and surrounding area. It pains me to see those photos, but I’m glad they were taken.

Lying on my neck cut off my air supply. It was becoming increasingly difficult to breathe as I slipped further and further down onto my neck, pushing my chin onto my chest. It didn’t help a thing that my sweatshirt and my breast slid down and covered my face. So I was lying there, unable to move, with the weight of my body on my neck and my clothes covering my face, and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about any of it.

Did I mention I’m claustrophobic? Did I mention I have an intense reaction to not being able to breathe, or even feeling like I can’t breathe? Because I am and I do. If I get my head stuck in a shirt as I’m pulling it over my head, I freak out. If I accidentally pull the covers over my head while lying in bed, I panic. So you can surely imagine the hell I was in at that moment. I was suffocating and there was nothing I could do to save myself.

I’m not ashamed to say that I panicked, but I’m proud to say I only panicked only for a second. Even as the fear settled in on me, I knew that if I lost my cool, I would die. I had very little air, and I couldn’t afford to waste it on stupid things like crying or screaming. I had to be calm and conserve my breaths.

Suddenly, over the music that still played, I heard a man’s voice at the passenger side window. He told me help was coming, which was a huge relief, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they would make it in time.

I couldn’t breathe. And each inhalation was more difficult and more shallow than the one before it.

My chin pushed harder onto my chest and my breathing became raspy and ragged. The sound reminded me of a dying dog, and it was becoming clear to me that I was thinking my last thoughts.

My last thoughts.

If that was the case, if these were the final thoughts I would think on this earth, I was going to make them good thoughts. Happy thoughts. Not the panic-filled thoughts I was thinking. So I thought of my son, a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy in Kindergarten, who at that moment was at home in bed with no idea that his mother was about to die. He was so handsome and smart and funny. It was a shame that he was going to have to grow up without a mom. Would he remember me? Would all the things we’d done together, all the laughs and good times we’d had, be enough to hold him for the rest of his life? No. It would never be enough. How old would he be when he started to forget me? I thought of my husband, so loving and kind and wonderful. He was a great friend and father and would undoubtedly remind my son of me, making sure to keep me alive, if only in memories. Surely, they would be okay without me.

The man leaned into the window again to tell me to hang on. I told him I couldn’t breathe, but he had a hard time understanding me. It was no surprise. I’d shoved my tongue between my teeth to keep them from being clamped shut and closing off my airway. Also, my sweatshirt had muffled my voice. I told him again as best as I could that I couldn’t breathe. He told me he couldn’t move me, but I didn’t want him to. I knew exactly what kind of trouble I was in, and I knew I couldn’t be moved. Fortunately, he knew that too. I shudder to think what would’ve happened if he would’ve tried to pull me from the car. I only wanted him to move the shirt away from my face to allow me just a little more of the air I craved, but he stood and left me alone in the car with a rapidly diminishing supply of oxygen.

This was it. I was going to suffocate, never finding out where my arms went. I closed my eyes and saw my son’s face, heard my husband’s voice. I didn’t want to die, but I could fight it no longer. I had done all I could do.

Then, from outside of the car, I heard a familiar voice. My eyes snapped open. I heard someone crawling through broken glass, making their way toward me in the car. “Are you okay?” he asked. It’s my father. My eyes fill with tears, but I quickly blink them away. I’m so happy that someone is with me now, someone I know. Not a stranger. My father. He mistakenly thought I was my mom, and why shouldn’t he? He didn’t know that I borrowed his car. I told him I couldn’t breathe, and he pushed my shirt away from my face. It helped a bit, but I still feared that help wouldn’t arrive in time. I’d never heard breathing that sounded like mine. Wet and raspy. Quick and shallow. They were gasping breaths. It was the most terrifying sound I’d ever heard.

During my time in the car, which felt like an eternity but was really only about fifteen minutes at this point, I’d noticed a slight twinge at the corner of my right eye from time to time, but I hadn’t given it much thought. I’d been too worried about staying alive to wonder why my eye felt funny.

Finally, help arrived. A paramedic replaced my father in the car. He placed an oxygen mask over my face, supplying me with crisp air. It helped, but not much. After all, I was lying on my neck, pinching off my airway. I relaxed a little, though, because I was still alive. Help was there, and I was still alive. I felt that since I hadn’t died yet, I probably wouldn’t. And now that the professionals were there with me, I felt that I didn’t have to try so hard to save my own life. I could let them do some of the work.

They told me they were going to pull me from the car, and a wave pf panic washed over me. My neck was broken. I knew it. And I also knew that if they moved me wrong in any way at all, that would be the end of me. But, seeing as there was nothing else to do, it had to happen. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. I felt myself being pulled from the car and flipped onto my back. When I was placed on the gurney, my airway was no longer restricted. I could breathe again! I gasped a big, beautiful breath of air as I opened my eyes and stared up into the drizzling night sky. My father told me later that he thought the sound of that gasp was my last breath escaping me, but it wasn’t. It was the first breath of what was to be the rest of my life.

I was placed in the Ambulance, where I laid with my eyes closed, listening to the paramedic ask my father questions. My father was answering as if I was my mother, listing her age and the medications she takes and any ailments she had. He still thought I was her. I was so bloody and muddy, he couldn’t tell that I was me.

I said, “I’m not my mom.”

The paramedic asked, “What?”

I repeated, “I said I’m not my mom.”

It was silent for a moment, and then my dad said, “That’s not my wife. It’s my daughter.” I felt horrible for him in that moment. Can you imagine?

I was rushed to the hospital. I kept my eyes closed as much as possible because it hurt to blink. They were full of glass and dirt, and each blink was like scraping sandpaper across my eyeballs. I answered questions, and I begged for pain medication. I was denied. They wouldn’t give me anything until they knew the extent of my injuries. I understood the reasoning, but it sucked. So I laid there, drifting in and out of consciousness, waiting as the hours passed slowly. Yes, hours. Then, I heard another voice I knew. My cousin. We were like sisters growing up, and as soon as she said, “Kim, it’s Joanna,” I began to cry, telling her they wouldn’t give me anything for pain. She asked them about it, and they told her the same thing they told me; they can’t yet. Not until they know the extent of my injuries. Later, I heard my grandmother tell the nurse, “She told me that if anything ever happened to her, make sure to tell you she wears contacts.” The nurse told my grandmother that I’d already told them that, but they haven’t had time to take them out. I smiled because my grandma had remembered what I’d said after reading the book A Stranger’s Eyes, in which a man survived a plane crash, was in a coma for months, and lost his eyesight because they’d failed to remove his contacts. She had remembered.

Then, I drifted away again.

At one point, I woke to find my husband standing over me with my son. I told them both how much I loved them. I don’t remember what else, if anything, I said. (My husband told me later that he wasn’t going to bring our son in to see me in that condition–bloody and muddy, but he was afraid it might be the last time he would ever have the chance to see or talk to his mommy, so he brought him in.)

*This is a picture of the x-ray of my neck that night.

I woke later in an Ambulance. I was being transferred to another hospital where a top neurosurgeon was waiting for me. I was supposed to be flown, but the weather didn’t permit flying. So instead, I was in an Ambulance that made the hour-long trip in about a quarter of an hour. Every bump in the road caused me great pain.

I drifted away.

The next time I woke, there was a man working on my head. He had one hand between my flesh and skull while the other hand squirted a cold liquid into my head. I told him it hurt. He said he knew, but he had to get the dirt and gravel and glass out before he could sew it shut, which would end up taking 67 stitches. I let him work. What choice do I have?

As that was happening, a man walked toward me carrying some sort of curved metal thing. I asked what he was going to do with it. He said it was tongs and he was going to screw it into my skull. I asked if it would hurt, and he assured me it wouldn’t, though I would feel pressure. Before I could protest, a lady came toward me with a clear plastic hose. I asked what she planned to do with it, and she told me she was going to put it in my stomach via my nose. I asked why. She said in case I got sick. I promised her I wouldn’t throw up, but she put it in my nose and forced it down my throat anyway. Everything they did hurt. Everything except having the tongs screwed into my skull. It didn’t hurt, but the smell of my bone being drilled away wasn’t pleasant. Then, I drifted away.

I woke later as I was wheeled into my new room in SICU. It was to be my home for the next month. I was strapped to a rotating bed. Traction. There were 25 lbs. of weight on the tongs, pulling and stretching my neck. The worst part was I still couldn’t move or feel anything below the neck. I was on a lot of drugs. Morphine, Demoral, and various other drugs that dulled the pain, made me sleep 23 hours a day, and made me hallucinate a lot. I ate nothing more than chocolate pudding and applesauce because I was afraid I would choke. If I did, there was nothing they could do for me. I couldn’t be moved. My neck was still broken. In fact, it remained that way for 11 days. Technically, it was a severe dislocation. My spinal column was 75%  offset. Imagine stacking two tires on top of each other and then sliding the top one almost completely off the bottom one, until the holes in the center are 75% offset. That was my spine. My doctor told us that he’d never seen anyone with an injury as severe as mine regain anything more than a little use of their arms. He pricked me daily with a needle to see if I could feel it. I couldn’t.

They x-rayed my hands many times because they were so swollen and bruised they thought for sure they were broken. After all, the car rolled over them. They were cut and bruised but not broken.

2 days before my 27th birthday, I had my first surgery. A piece of my hipbone was fused into my spinal column through the front of my neck. I laid in bed what little time I was awake and focused on moving my toe. My right leg was twisted in the wreck and was stuck now in a boot to straighten it out, so I focused on the big toe on my left foot. I would ask my mother if the toe was moving. She said no. The next day, I asked again, and again she said no. But there came a day when the answer was yes. She told my doctor, who told us to not get too excited. It was most likely just muscle twitches. But it wasn’t. I knew it wasn’t. I worked my ass off to move that toe. And I kept doing it.

It would be okay if I was paralyzed from the waist down. I knew that I could still live a pretty normal life as a paraplegic. But if I didn’t regain the use of my arms…I laid there in that bed and thought about how our lives had changed. As a quadriplegic, I would need constant care. Rotating to avoid bed sores (which I ended up getting anyway–they hurt!), cleaning, etc. I couldn’t do anything for myself. If I needed a drink of water, someone had to get it and give it to me. If I had an itch on my cheek, someone had to scratch it. If I was hungry, someone had to feed me. All I could think about was how much of a burden I was to my family now. And the worst part was I couldn’t even kill myself.

A couple weeks later, I had another surgery. This time, a plate and a cable were installed into the back of my neck. The muscles were cut and pulled away from the bone. That caused me pain. Even though I was still a quadriplegic, when people bumped my bed, I cried. It hurt my neck more than I ever thought possible. The doctor also had to cut away a piece of skin off the back of my head. It was damaged in the wreck and couldn’t be touched because they couldn’t get to it, so it had become infected.

My hair still contained mud, rocks, glass, and dirt from the wreck. Yes, several weeks after the wreck, my hair was still full of rocks and mud and glass and dirt. It was a knotted mess. They tried to wash it, but it was impossible. They tried to comb it, but it hurt way too much. I finally told them to ‘just cut it.’ They did.

I was transferred to another hospital to start rehab. The transfer hurt like hell.

My son called me and said, “I wish you still lived with me and my dad.” I choked back tears and said, “Haven’t you noticed all my stuff’s still there? I still live there, I just can’t be there right now. But I will be soon.” This hurt me more than my neck. The hospital was great with us. We had our own room. My husband had a bed of his own in the room. They wheeled in a TV for us, and on the weekends and Christmas vacation when my son stayed with us, they allowed us to hook up my son’s PS2 so he could play games. We tried to make sure life was as normal as possible for him.

I eventually learned to walk again and was released to go home 79 long days after my accident. With the aid of a walker, I walked out of the hospital. It was the happiest day of my life.

There were bruises that stayed with me for nearly a year before finally going away. Those on the back of my hands and a large one on my right shoulder. A few weeks after being released from the hospital, I had to return to have another surgery. Once again, a piece of my hipbone was fused into my neck.

I endured so many nerve tests, catheter issues, physical hurdles, and embarrassing moments that I couldn’t wait to get home. There really is no shame in a hospital. I’ve pooped while sitting on a bedside toilet with my head resting on a nurse’s abdomen. I’ve had a room full of doctors and nurses waiting and watching to see if I could pee without a catheter. I’ve had a team of nurses have to pick me up after I passed out trying to stand up. I’ve had to be wheeled in a wheelchair back to my room after passing out in the shower. But you do what you have to do.

Can we talk about the hard neck brace? Oh my god, those are horrible. I was in a hard brace for months. I woke up wearing one after one of my surgeries and had to wear it for months after that. I hated every second of it. But every time I took it off, it was scary. My poor neck was exposed and vulnerable. It was terrifying, but relieving.

I regained the use of my arms and hands, though my fine motor skills aren’t great, especially in my right hand. I have a lot of nerve damage which bothers me constantly. I can’t look too far left, right, up, or down, and I sure can’t look either way for very long. My knee, though I’ve had one surgery on it, still bothers me. It was so twisted in the wreck, it’ll never be the same. I get what I call ‘jelly leg’ after walking any distance. The farthest I can walk is a mile and a half (and that’s on a really good day). Any farther and I can’t control my right leg. It gets all floppy on me. Jelly leg. I have a scar on the right side of my face that extends up into my hair where I was cut in the wreck. The roof of the car above the windshield buckled and cut my face. The scar starts at the outer corner of my right eye, runs back toward my ear and branches off, going up the side of my face and into my hair. 67 stitches it took to sew it up. That was the twinge I felt at the corner of my eye as I laid in the car waiting for help. The back of my left hand is covered with little scars from the car rolling over it. I have a scar on my left hip, as well as on the back and the front of my neck, and one on the back of my head and the top of my head. I am in pain always. But at least I’m not still a quadriplegic. We are constantly aware of how different our lives could be. We take nothing for granted.

If you just met me, you’d probably never know anything was wrong with me. Most people don’t even see my scars or notice the issues I have. But though I may look fine, I’m in pain every second of every day. I get frustrated at times when my body fails me. It’s been so long now, I can’t even remember what it was like to be able to do things I can’t do now, and I’ve forgotten what it’s like to not be in pain. But I don’t complain much. I don’t have the right to. I know what my life could’ve been. I’ve been a quadriplegic. I’ve been a functioning mind trapped in a lifeless body. And let me tell you this. There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, as bad as that. I’ll take the pain with a smile.

Having a broken neck and being a quadriplegic is the most terrifying thing you can have happen. No one prepares you for what’s to come after your body heals. No one tells you about the emotional issues. The depression, the ‘why me’ questions, the ‘it’s not fair’ whining, the anger, the sadness, and the loneliness. No one understands unless they’ve been through it. It’s rough, but you can do it. You’re not the only person it’s happened to, and since we all know what it’s like, we’re all willing to help each other get through it. There are support groups online. Plus, I’m always here.

  1. This is a really amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing it. The part that got me most, oddly, was when you said you could smell your bone shavings as they drilled the holes. It’s just something so otherworldly, and really made impact. It made me stop and go, “Holy sh…”

    But I’m so glad you’re alive and walking and writing! You write well, and have a new fan. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Leanne! It was the worst and greatest thing that ever happened to me. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

      I’m really glad you like my work, and it makes me happy to know I have you as a fan. I hope to keep you happy! 🙂

  2. You seem to write matter of factly about an event that could have been so devastating for you and your family. It’s almost as if you discount the bravery you showed. I’m another one who is delighted you made it though I wish there was less pain to remind you of the event. I send you HUGS.

  3. Thank you. I do discount any bravery I showed. I always think of it as just something I had to do. I don’t think of myself as brave, even though I realize that keeping myself together while I was in the car actually saved my life. I wish there was less pain too, but I realize how lucky I am to have that pain. An odd thing to say, I know. But I’m not dead and I’m not still a quadriplegic, so I’m lucky. Hugs to you too. 🙂

  4. I was in tears the entire time. I’m 19 years old and 6 weeks ago I broke my C6 and C7 vertebrae. I am fully functional in regards to my limbs, but have constant tingling in my hands/lower arms. I have moments where I’m scared to death because I just don’t know if something will go wrong in the healing process – as they’ve told me the potential for paralysis still exists until I am fully healed. Stories like yours are what keep me thinking positively throughout this experience. I’m so happy to hear that you have functioning arms and hands. I can’t even explain how it feels to think about the moments before I broke my neck, and how I wish I would’ve done something differently. I’m sorry to hear that you’re still in pain, but I know what you mean when you say you’ll gladly take the pain. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • I’m happy that my story helps you. It’s a hard thing to deal with and get used to. And I know what you mean about fearing you’ll damage your neck. That fear fades away though. For me, it took about a year to stop worrying about it as much. I wish you all the best on your road to recovery!

  5. How I have gone this long with knowing you (Ok, really hasn’t been that long, but feels like my whole life), and not have known your complete story, baffles me! I knew you were in an accident, but I didn’t know to the degree.
    You are truly a miracle.
    I’m sorry you had to go through something so horrific. I’m blessed that you made it out with your life and above all else, you are no longer trapped in your own mind.
    You have inspired me in more ways than I ever thought possible!
    Hope

  6. Thank you, Hope. I believe the accident was for a reason, as are all things. I also believe that you are a part of that reason. If I gave you the inspiration and push you needed to kick start your writing career, then you’re definitely a part of it. 🙂

  7. Wow thats insane! And painful. I have cancer, leukemia. It sucks if i hit my hand on a table i will have a bruise that looks like i just dropped a 10 pound metal weight on it. But like you i would happily face that than face what i could have. I could have not caught it quick enough and died before i got treatment.

  8. I’m really sorry to hear about what you’re going through. People ask me “How can you be so positive about it?” And I answer, “How can I NOT?” You have to see the positive. Things could be worse. I’m glad you’re getting treatment and hope things work out well for you. Hugs! 🙂

  9. noreen randall

    GOD BLESS YOU FOR YOUR COURAGE TO CARRY ON.MY PRAYERS ARE WITH U AND YOUR FAMILY.I ALSO HAD AN ACCIDENT ON THE JOB WITH INDIVIDUALS ON.THEY ARE OK BUT I ENDED UP WITH TWO CRUSHED BONES AND ONE FUSED.I HAVE A PLATE AND SCREWS,WHEN THEY DID THE SURGERY I HAD A STROKE AND THEY SAID I WOULD NOT WALK AGAIN.WELL HERE I AM.BUT I HAVE ALOT OF OTHER ISSUES BUT I WILK GET THERE.GOOD LUCK TO U

    • Good luck to you too, Noreen. Things like this make us better, stronger people. Thank you for reading my story and for taking the time to let me know yours. I wish you all the best and hope things go smoothly for you from here out. 🙂

  10. Wow… To know the shear magnitude of the crash and that you survived is nothing short of miraculous! How you pulled though is beyond crazy. I saw the x-ray. Your spine had a definite sever. The surgeon who worked on you was amazing. You went from a quadriplegic to full use of all your limbs. Gosh, you’re one strong lady. Such a humble memory of the events.

    I’m just so happy that you’re with us, Kimberly, now. This is a miracle. You still have things to do!!! Incredibly inspiring. God bless you.

  11. This is such a wonderful story!i am 13and I was reasently diagnosed with transverse mymelitis, where you body attacks your own spinal cord leaving you paralyzed. I woke up one morning not being able to feel my legs, i was rushed to the hospital. I am now paralyzed from right above the belly button down. I am now in rehab learning to do everyday things again, the hardest thing to do is put clothes on/off and doing transfers. Your story really modivates me to get better again!

  12. Megan, I hate to hear about your condition but am happy that my story is helping you. I remember how hard it was to put on my clothes in the beginning too. Especially my bra and fastening my jeans. You hang in there and do your best. It’s hard, but you have to do it. You can’t ever stop. I wish you all the best. 🙂

  13. Thank you!!!! My ex husband broke my neck June.7 2013. I am in a aspen brace at this time i had a fusion done as well. I am thankful for being alive as well as not being paralyzed but i am often depressed.

  14. Lindsay Adams

    Kimberly, I am so over all those websites and posts from people who have never broken their neck and complain about chronic neck pain and how their life is so pain filled and hopeless. Breaking your neck is a club I did not want to join. I am fully functioning and lucky but the pain is relentless and unforgiving. Depression is a long term fight but pain is a here and now battle. You are outstanding. It’s that simple.

  15. Thank you so much, Lindsay. Every time I hear someone say ‘my neck hurts’, I want to tell them that they don’t know what neck pain is. The pain is absolutely relentless and unforgiving. You’re right. And no one completely understands that except those of us who’ve been there, who ARE there, who suffer with it every day. It’s comforting to have someone who understands. Thank you. 🙂

  16. My mother also broke her neck in a car accident two years ago. Her accident wasn’t nearly as severe yours but i praise God for the excellent neurosurgeon she had. Thankfully she is able to walk and drive and has little if any pain.

    I’m glad you are able to walk. I’m so sorry you live in pain. I have fibromyalgia myself so i can relate to chronic pain.

    • I’m glad your mother is able to walk and doesn’t suffer with the pain I do. I’m sorry you’re in pain, though. I often wish for just one day where nothing hurt. It’s been so long, I forgot what it was like. But, I try not to complain because it could always be worse. Hugs to you and your family. 🙂

  17. Wow!!! What a woman. I am so happy for your husband and little one. You must be one strong lady. Hugs to you.

  18. volkerball5891

    I’m not sure how I came across this page, but I’m glad I did. Your story has had a huge impact on me, alternately terrifying me and bringing tears to my eyes. It seems like we all go through life without really thinking about what could happen; we know the possibility for accidents and death are always there, but it’s always something that happens to “someone else,” until it’s us. I’m just some stranger on the internet, but I’m happy beyond words that you made it through your ordeal alive and were able to return to a life that didn’t involve you being confined to a bed or a chair. God bless you and your family.

  19. 29. Know what it’s like. Broke my back and leg in a car smash in 2012 in a storm. Xxx

  20. Mark Hinchelwood

    Thanks for sharing your story – I feel your pain and love your honesty. I’m going through a base of skull fracture at the moment and it’s really interesting reading others stories.

    Thanks.

  21. Natasha de Villiers

    My brother broke his neck in 2 places on the 5 th of December 2015, so we are at day 3. He is in the uk and I’m in South Africa so I feel so helpless. I can FaceTime him and at least see his face. I can see he is terrified, his wife and kids are terrified. We don’t know if he will ever have any movement back, everyone keeps saying we have to wait for the swelling to go down but it doesn’t look great. I am so scared! Your story has really brought me some hope so I just want to thank you for writing it.

    • Natasha, I have the highest hopes for your brother. My doctor told me he’d never before seen an injury as severe as mine where the person ever got back more than a little arm movement. He was shocked to see me walk out of the hospital. If I can bounce back from an injury of that caliber, nothing is impossible. I wish you and your brother all the best. 🙂

  22. Thanks for sharing. I have a very similar story, and I was thinking of sharing it on WordPress as well. To Natasha, I can only repeat what you have said. Also, a good surgeon and care, luck, hard work, and hope and optimism can generate amazing results.

  23. I am working on a novel where the protagonist has PTSD from being in a car accident and breaking her neck. I want my writing to be as realistic (but not necessarily graphic) as possible. I stumbled upon your story just now. It gave me chills. I am sure you probably don’t want to relive any of that, but if you are able to talk about some things, like limitations, etc., that would be helpful for my prose. I Understand if you don’t.

    • Sure, I’d love to help. A few things I can tell you right off is I can’t STAND to see someone fall on their neck or head now. You know how on America’s Funniest Home Videos and similar shows they air a lot of video clips that show people falling and landing on their necks. I have to look away. It turns my stomach and I can’t deal with it. It never bothered me before. Also, sometimes when people hug me, their arm around my neck squeezes too tightly and hurts like hell. I wince through it and don’t say anything because I don’t want to draw attention to it, but I do wish they wouldn’t do it. I can’t look to the left or right for very long. If I do, I’m screwed. The pain is awful for the next couple days. I can’t look as far down as before. My neck–probably because there are bones fused together now without the flexibility they once had–won’t allow it. And forget about looking up. I can go a few seconds, but no more. I can’t just stand outside and look up at the stars, for example. I have to look up, look down. Look up, look down. And I can only do that a few times. Hope that helps somewhat. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask them. I’m happy to help. 🙂

      Kim

  24. Thank you for sharing your story. I was searching for something else when I came across it. I am glad to hear about your recovery. I wish you a long and lovely life. God bless.

    • Hi Kimberly, I read your story and like you I am a broken neck walking survivor of a bad MVA. I live in Florida but grew up in DeSoto MO and have a house at the Lake of the Ozarks. I spend quite a bit of time each year driving thru MO.

      It seems you are doing very well. I will have to read one of your books this summer.

      Take care and good luck. Always good to see people from MO do well.

      Steve Hubbard

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  25. I hope you are doing better by now. I had a chiropractor break my neck (C-2) and had a fusion of C1 to C-2 My surgery was on November 2nd and they all said that I was very lucky if anything anything just to be alive.

    After six months of rehab, walking and even driving and apparently doing fine, It just scares the devil out of me to be having some of the original symptoms of being unable to look up occasionally. I’m praying and trying to take it real slow.

    Your story has showed me to just be patient and not push the recovery too hard. I’m extremely lucky but I do dread going back for another x-ray to find out I may need a new operation. I’m praying. I guess the moral of the story is just to take it real slow. I just don’t know what happened. Maybe the driving and attempting turn my head to the left has aggravated it or refractured it somehow. I just don’t know and I am worried. It certainly wasn’t any new really big drama?

    • Holy moly! A chiropractor broke your neck? Now see, THIS is why I laugh when people suggest I go to a chiropractor regarding my neck and back issues. No way! Hopefully, you won’t have to have another surgery. I’m certainly glad it wasn’t a worse injury than it was. Hope all goes well for you, David. 🙂

  26. Thank you for your story. About 3 weeks ago I passed out while walking down my hallway. My floor is made of tile and when I fell I landed on my face. My forehead and lip had to be stitched up. A total of 26 stitches altogether. I also broke my neck, C6 vertebrate. I was never immobilized. I could still walk I just needed to wear a brace. I’m in pain but it gets better each day. I wonder if I will ever be normal again. Your story gave me hope. I will let you no how I’m doing in another month or so. I wish you well. Thank you.

  27. Wow. I’m happy to hear that you weren’t immobilized, and yes, please keep me posted about your progress. I wish you all the best.

    Kim

  28. Rajitha Suraweera

    Dear Kimberly, I’m not sure how I came to read this story but I couldnt leave without writing something, I’m just lost for words, I think of the battles I’ve faced and wonder if they were battles at all? Your story has stopped me in my tracks and really made me think about many things, I feel tearful for you but something tells me that is not what you want to hear. the progress you have made has inspired me, I just hope when the frustration kicks in you can perhaps reconnect with how far you have come since that day, I hope me writing has not brought back any memories, I don’t know where you are or how you are at this moment but I want to reach out and send you love, why do I do that? Because coming from someone who had battled self esteem probelms all my life, you have taught me not to forget to love myself, I will wish you the strength to face every day positively to better your self and push yourself, take care kimberley x

  29. Hey I just broke my neck c3 c4 c5 c6 c7 t1 t2 t3 all fractured, my head was split open, major concussion, ligament damage all over, blood vessel to brain damage and all that. It happened on jan 8th 2017 one day before my birthday, amazingly i did not need surgery, its almost been 2 months now and i still have some pretty bad pain in my neck im still in the cervical collar as well. Your story was a great read, how are you feeling now? Still get pains im just wondering if my neck will ever be the same.

    • Hey, Kevin. Wow! It’s amazing you’re still here. I’m doing okay, though I still suffer with neck pain on a daily basis. My range of motion isn’t what it was before the accident, and it’s changed a lot of my day-to-day behavior. For example, I can’t look left or right for more than fifteen seconds or so at a time or I will suffer greatly for days afterward. That also means I can’t sleep on my stomach, which was always my favorite position. It’s a lot of little things that no one ever thinks about until something like this happens. But it could be worse, so I’ll stop whining about it. I’d like to tell you that you won’t have residual problems (and I certainly hope you don’t), but I’d bet money that you will. Maybe not major problems, but you’ll probably have aches and pains in your neck forever. It’s true of everything, though. I fractured the knuckle in one of my fingers back in 1995 and it hasn’t been the same since. Nothing is ever the same once it’s been broken or injured. But think of it this way, after having such severe injuries, a little bit of pain isn’t that big a deal. You could’ve been a quadriplegic, or worse, you could’ve died. If you don’t mind me asking, how’d you break your neck?

      • Damn well I almost always sleep on my stomach, Sometimes i do even with this cervivcal collar on, but i also lifted heavy weights in the gym so hopfully ill still be able to do that my neurologist already said i could. From the looks of you X ray yours def looked worse than mine, mine will heal and only c5 is moved forward by a millimeter. I cant wait to get out of this cervical collar its been nearly 3 months now i miss driving so much. Anyway thanks for the response and ill keep you posted on my progress!

      • Oh and it was jan 8th the night before my birthday i was in the back seat of a friends car and he really screwed up and turned left into another car going 45 ish mph or so and I did not have my seat belt on in the back it was only a 4 min drive, but anyway next thign i know my entire face and body covered in blood, my heal split open lots of pain and i couldn’t move my neck got in the ambulance then spent a week in the hospital. It was one of those moments where your just thinking “ok this is it, it was a solid life but idc its my time” kinda didnt care if i died at that point i was in so much pain.

      • I know EXACTLY what you mean about not caring! Sometimes, when the pain is just too much to handle, your mind welcomes the escape. I’m so glad you’re still here though. And that cervical is awful, but it’s temporary. The first time I drove after everything, it rained. Just like the night I wrecked. I was terrified. Even now, I still sometimes have flashbacks when I’m driving. Scares the crap out of me. But we’re resilient! You can’t keep us down. 🙂 I look forward to your updates and wish you a speedy and easy recovery.

  30. Hi Kimberly, can I ask what level your spinal cord injury was? My husband had a motorcycle accident on Father’s Day 2016. He just mastered being able to stand up by himself. He’s a C5, functioning at a C7. He’ll walk again but he’s so concerned his hands won’t recover. His right hand is better than the left. Can you tell me what exercises you did to recover so quickly?

  31. Hi, Angie. Sorry to hear about your husband’s accident. I certainly hope he recovers well and soon. My injuries were C5, C6, and C7. I was terrified my hands wouldn’t recover too, so I know exactly what he’s going through. I squeezed putty and a foam stress ball, performed the Occupational Therapy tasks they gave me in rehab, like picking up change and buttons, etc. When that felt too slow for me, I began to write. I started simply by circling words in those Word Find puzzles. Then I practiced writing my name a lot. I think another good exercise would be squeezing clips, like the kind you put in your hair. He could also get Play Dough and do things like break off small pieces and form them into balls or squares. Anything to get those digits working again. I also used one of these, the Hand Helper II Exerciser:

    http://rehab-store.com/p-3291-hand-helper-ii-exerciser.html?gclid=Cj0KEQiA9P7FBRCtoO33_LGUtPQBEiQAU_tBgKzyDZQLemsnhr6AYv2sP2ES3eYojhtzMsu_Itef4fIaAoIP8P8HAQ

    The strength in my hands never returned to normal. They’re weak, but they work. My right hand is weaker than my left, which sucks since I’m right handed. I still have cramps in both, though I have them much more frequently in my right than my left. (My entire right side is weaker than my left. Is it that way for your husband?) I believe your husband’s hands WILL recover. I’m sending him positive thoughts and good vibes. I wish you both all the best.

    Kim

    • Thanks Kim, that is great info… now to only convince him to do the mundane… his left side is weaker than his right. He has made significant progress in the past month. Therapy says his strength is so much stronger than it was a month ago. They have him in a treadport walking study, which I think helped a lot. He doesn’t talk much, especially about his injury, but I can tell he is terrified to attempt to do much on his own. I guess I’m just frustrated but happy with the gains the past month

  32. It is very scary in the beginning. I was always afraid I would fall and hurt myself all over again, possibly even worse than I was already injured. I don’t like to talk about my accident and all that came after because I always get choked up. My voice cracks and I tear up. It’s a traumatic thing. But it’ll get better and easier. I know you’re frustrated, but imagine how frustrated he is. His body doesn’t work the way it did, the way it should, and everything is much harder now than before. It’ll get better, though. Just hang in there. 🙂

  33. wow, glad you survived ….I have struggled with neck pain for 40 years , bad sprain…God bless you

  34. Colota Bennett

    I just recently went through the same kind of situation the day before my 23’rd birthday i got in a car accident. Although i wasn’t driving i was the only person that was injured.I was Angry and Depressed for a long time, i kept asking myself why this happen to me, i had to accept the fact i would never get the answer to the question. On the bright side I’m alive and walking. God is GOOD

  35. Sean Michael Gillis

    What a inspirational story. I wish I could remember my accident, some days.. Other days I’m glad I don’t. Right now mentally, Its all just confusing. Questioning everything. Where do I go from here? What am I suppose to do now? I’ll never be the same, I’ll never live like I use to. Did I live before? All I know is I’m ALIVE now. Im not sure what quality of life I’m going to have now , but I am alive. I survived, I have a long unknown road ahead, but I consider myself extremely lucky.

    March 9th 2017 started out like any other day, I think.. I can’t seam to remember much of anything. I made it home from work, and back to my hotel.. I think I was doing laundry, and wanted to shower.. I think we were going to go out for supper.. I’m not sure if that happened.

    I woke up the next evening, in the hospital. I have I guess what seams like little flashes of consciousness. There was so many doctors standing around me, I can recall them just moving rags covered in blood, and hearing them say ‘we have family here to see him’ and ‘ he needs to be cleaned up more.’ I couldn’t understand what happened. I fell back asleep..

    The next time I woke up, I was sporting some new gear. I have a body brace, as well as a hard neck brace. I found out these will be on me for the next six months, depending.. The doc hopes I’ll be a possible candidate for surgery after six months.

    I was in a accident. I was the driver. From what I gathered, it seams like we hit black ice on the highway. The accident was about 300 ft long, I was ejected from the truck, and was found about 140 ft from where the truck stopped flipping. The truck was wrote off, and I’m just about.

    I can’t recall exactly what happened, but from how I feel, i didnt land soft or gracefully. I fractured my c1 and c2 in my neck. Also I fractured my t11 my l4 and my l5. I broke several ribs, my lung had collapsed. I had bleeding in my lungs, as well uncountable cuts and bruise’s from head to toe. I picked glass from my head/face/legs the week I was in the hospital.

    This is my first time ever talking about it, and now that I realized that I’m not to sure what else to say. I’m not sure how well I’ll recover, but I’m hopeful things will get better. I could have died that night, but I didnt. I could have been paralyzed for the rest of my life, but I’m not. I may feel alot of pain all day long, but pain is temporary, death is forever. I’m alive. I survived.

  36. Wow, Sean. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m so glad you’re still here. Breaking C1 and C2…that could’ve been so much worse. There are times I wish I couldn’t remember what happened. I sometimes wish I would’ve blacked out, but then I would’ve been ejected and…well, I don’t like to think about what would’ve happened then. Focus on the now. Putting one foot in front of the other. It’ll all fall into place, but it can be overwhelming if you try to do it all at once. You’ll get there. I wish you all the best in your recovery. 🙂 Hugs, Sean.

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