23
Oct 2003

Not recommended injury

Not recommended injury

EDIT: the post I made a year after my accident may be interesting too.

A little over two months ago (August 17th) I broke my back quite badly in a kite mountainboarding crash. I landed very hard on my arse after my bar (which controls the kite) got caught on my harness. My L1 vertibrae burst into my spinal column damaging my spinal cord, but thankfully not severing it. I spent two and a half weeks in Glasgow Southern General Spinal Injuries Unit, which is an excellent facility by the way, where I had an operation to stabilise my back with two plates and four pins.

By all accounts I’m super lucky to be able to walk and should make a pretty much full recovery, even if it takes a year. I’m at the stage where I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a back again and I’ve got another eight weeks of wearing a space-age-looking back brace before I can start to get my back strengthened up. The surgeons are very non-commital (fair enough!) about how long it’ll get to back into sports and I’m just going to take it as it comes.

73 comments

  1. Hey from Kansas,
    Really appreciate your blow-by-blow description of your recovery. I fell off a roof on November 14 and also had a burst fracture of the L1. No spinal injury and while there was some uncertainty about surgery, a specialist finally said that it would be unecessary. The brace that I wear is a vinyl form fit shell that wraps around and cinches in the front with 3 velcrow straps.
    My problem is that I have been given very little info on recovery. My doctor indicated that I would be able to walk as soon as I got the brace. Did not know that that would only be for a limited distance at first. He said that I would be in a back brace for 3 months and the 4th month I would be weaned off of it. Till I read your info did not know why weaning was necessary. Also did not know why one doctor had said that vertebrae would heal in 2 months but would have to wear it regularly for 3 months. Still don’t know that one.
    So thank you again and hope you make a full recovery.

  2. It is nice to read something by someone else going through it. I feel going down my stairs in my apt. on November 25, crawled to my coach and finally decided to drive myself to the hospital the next day, where they x-rayed me and told me I had a compression fracture of T-8.

    The fall was just right to break it, right hard on my butt, felt it in the middle of my back though, and now I have found out that at age 30!!! I have osteoporosis of the spine and hips.

    One of my goals before this was to learn to be a good enough kayaker to go down the CO River in the Grand Canyon—have paddled down on little rafts 2x now plus I just learned how to surf on my 30th bday.

    Serious cramps in my dating life, work (I am my own boss!) and needless to say working out. And the dr. says now I have to wear the brace 2-3 more mos. before he decided if I need surgery, which he said is not the best option with my osteo.

    SCARY! What is the surgery like?

    Lisa

  3. Hi Lisa. Your fall sounds really nasty (I think every broken back story I’ve heard sounds nasty though!). It’s six months to the day since my accident and I feel like I’m starting to make proper progress now. Of course all injuries are different, but I’m surprised just how much people recover.

    I came out of surgery in lots of pain to be honest, although others haven’t found it too bad. At least I got a neat scar to show for it (picture fixed now). I was lying down for three weeks but very soon after the operation I started to walk again. I was amazed how much balance I’d lost in just three weeks and was very wobbly and tired for a number of days. I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to getting your brace off – definitely a highlight of last year for me!

    Unfortunately my dating life hasn’t been affected at all – still non-existant! :(

    Hope you recover quickly and well.

  4. Hi Mark. How are things now? I’ve been to 3 different docs. 1 says leave the brace on, threatens surgery etc. Another says wean my self off slowly. The latest says take it off now, I shouldn’t wear it at all.

    Today was up for 9 hrs about, with no brace after no weaning period. Through this whole thing I have been in so much pain as to throw up, and am taking no pain meds as I seem to be allergic.

    Every doc says something different. Not sure what to do. Its been nearly 4 mos. Any advice?

    Lisa

  5. Hi Lisa.

    I am by no means an expert, medical or otherwise and can only speak from my own experience – your injury could be (probably is) very different from mine.

    I have no idea if you should be taking the brace off or not, but if you do my opinion would be to wean yourself off the brace slowly. Assuming it is the same brace as the one I had, you will have had 4 months with complete back support. I was amazed at how much my muscles had vanished after 3 months in the brace. Taking your brace off completely will be a big change for your body (search google for adrenal stress to see why this may be bad). There is certainly nothing to be lost by just weaning off it rather than taking it completely anyway. I took about 2 weeks to stop wearing my brace completely. 30 mins the first day, then an hour, two seperate hours in the day, 2 hours straight, 2 and 1… you get the idea.

    If you do need surgery, do try not to be too freaked out by it (easy for me to say now, I know!). The pain afterwards doesn’t last too many days and wasn’t as sore as actually breaking your back (for me at least). I was in surgery for four hours as it was quite a complicated affair with bone fragments near my spinal cord, but I think most of the operations are over a fair bit faster.

    It has been seven months since I broke my back and I’m still quite far from being fighting fit. I am unable to run, lift heavy things, etc. It’s a slow, slow process and I’m realising that it’s going to take at least a full year before I even start to get back to the things I used to do.

    I guess what I’m saying is just to take things easy. Although every injury is different, I do know how you feel on this one. It’s shite, really shite, frustrating and at times depressing. Things do get better though, despite the slow progress.

    Dig in, hassle the doctors for all the information you can and keep your chin up. Best of luck, let me know how you get on.

  6. Dude. Hide yer butt….sheesh

  7. Yeah Mark,
    It is different. After I broke my back, the dr.’s noticed in the x-rays that my bones were thin. And then they did a bone density test & found out that I had the bones of a 70 year old lady (osteoporosis. I’m 30.

    Just found out it’s because I have this tumor on my parathyroid that makes my body think it doesn’t have enough calcium so it steals it from my bones. Can’t believe I didn’t break one last summer what with all the falling on the cliffs, etc.

    Anyway I’ll have to get surgery on that in a couple of weeks. Talk about scary shite.

    Did you hold onto a job through this? And all the rest? What are you up to now?

    Lisa

  8. Hi Lisa.

    If you’ve not already had your operation, good luck! Let me know how you get on.

    I’m doing some swimming and cycling and my back is generally feeling much stronger. However, the strange nerve pains have returned to my legs along with a phantom coxyx (sp?) pain. I’m not sure exactly what is putting pressure on my nerves, but hopefully it won’t anything too worrying in the long run.

    I was fortunate with my job as I good friends with the boss and I also develop freelance websites so was able to continue with that. How are you managing work-wise?

    I really do hope things work out well for you. I completely understand how scary it all is, even if I’m not exactly sure what is involved with your injury.

  9. Dude,
    I suffered the same sort of injury two years ago in a flying accident. compression fracture of t12 and l1 vert’s.
    i was upon my feet and flying within 8 months because i thought every thing was repaired, however i did too much too soon and paid the price cos im still recovering!!

    it can be a long repair job on the back take your time.

    good luck

  10. Hey Mark, how are you feeling?
    My story is a little more complicated then yours. But you might enjoy reading this. I fell off a ladder landing on my butt and hand. I crushed L1 and broke a piece of bone off my shoulder.I had two choises: 1- don’t have surgery and back will cave in on itself and i lose ability to walk OR 2-have surgery and chances are pretty good for a nearly 100% recovery. had back surgery dec 18, they went in through my side and placed a bone filled cage to replace lost vertebrae. they turned me over and place 2 rods and a few screws in my back. went home on 25th. a few days later a nurse came to check on me and sent me back to hospital. back was full of spinal fluid and infection had 2nd surgery next morning. A couple days later nurse told me to stand and walk a little. as soon as i stood i felt a pop in my back. hours later surgeon checked on me touched my back and said “Oh Shit – the screws popped out”. I was rushed to cat scan to confirm and had 3rd surgery the next morning. I now have titainium rods (from L4 to T8), plates and 12 screws. scar 1 starts at my butt and ends at bra line, 2nd scar starts at butt runs diagonally and is 3 inches, 3rd scar on my side is 8 inches long (know any single guys into scars?) After 3rd surgery I was not allowed to walk for 6 weeks, stairs 12 weeks, and now i can finally go out in public without my brace (except places that are really crowded for fear of falling or being pushed). I see Dr. tomorrow hopefully my back is healed enough so I can have surgery on shoulder (not only is shoulder painful, but it pops out of joint, grinds, clicks, and i have limited use of arm). The good thing about all of this misery is that I thankful everyday because I can walk. and i know eventually the pain will subside. Thanks for listening and i hope you have a short, but 100% successful recovery.
    Sincerely,
    ROBIN

  11. Hi Friends,
    I broke my back (T5 compression fracture) August 9, 2003. I am still recovering. I’m also a writer and in the process of writing an article on the other side of broken backs—the patient recuperation side (physical and emotional). I didn’t have surgery and had a highly qualified doctor treating me, but I felt that no one understands the rest of the recuperation process. I am interested to find out what other people recuperating from a broken back wish they had known as they were going through the process. My article will be aimed at doctors to help them see the other side AND perhaps result in a handbook that can be given to the patients. Please feel free to email me at nccandyp@yahoo.com. Thanks for you input.

  12. i borken my wwerst bone.

  13. my injury is a little diff. then others. In Sept. I came in contact with 220 volts of elec. with my hammer. End result being the elec. hit the head of my hammer then going in my neck and melting a disc. What I’m wondering is the titainium in your body gets cold and causes any discomfort? Working const. puts me in the cold. Doc says no but he’s a comp doc and has no metal in his body. Wishing well to all thats recovering. Kegger

  14. So far so good with cold weather for me, although I spent most of last winter in pain anyway and the temperature is only just starting to drop away here now.

    I did have a titanium screw in my ankle for a year a few years ago and that got a little funny occasionally in the winter, but nothing severe and I’m not even entirely sure if that was down to the metal. Hope the recovery goes well.

  15. Same name same pain, I came off my xj900 on jan 26th 1999 at high speed and landed on my arse, a few bumps and bruises here and there and oh yeah, a shattered pelvis.
    I was in the royal london for 3 months after a 10 hour operation then a wheelchair for 6 months then crutches for nearly a year then 2 walking sticks then 1 walking stick and now I only need one if I go to a boot sale or shopping.
    I still have 13 nuts and bolts in my arse and my pelvis is held together almost the whole way round with titainium framework plus I have no feeling below the waist on my left side and constant pain due to some stuff I cant spell :)
    However I got (get)through it, I now have a new career (unable to be a despatch rider anymore) as an IT consultant I have a camper van and have started travelling again (just got back from spain/portugal/france/gib)and this friday I am off again to Austria, I am sure the cold will do me good :)
    I have also just renewed my british canoe union membership and as soon as I get back I want to try the water again.
    Five years on I am still in pain and only work at about 50% of my old capacity but I Still ride a bike and can still laugh and my daily poo is much more pleasant now I no longer take any medication.
    btw my physio told me I would never walk again, well I can because being bloody minded can sometimes be useful.
    Take care and good luck with your recovery

  16. Today has actually been one month since i had my back surgery. I broke L2-L3 in a serious car accident on oct.30..the pain i went through over this past month was unbearable. But everyday i feel more like myself. They had to put two rods and screws in during a 5 and a half hour operation. It was a fushion between L2-L3, they had to take some bone tissue from my hip. The doctors said i was 1in from being paralyzed. Im right now wearing the brace that i have to wear for three months..it has definately put my life on hold. I am an athlete and alot of my time is devoted to working out..its really hard to just sit around, there is nowhere to put all my energy. The road to recovery is going to be a long one, but im so determined to get back to where i was and back to playing tennis. I was actually ranked in the state. It’s good to know im not the only one going through this, i guess i could consider myself lucky. :)

  17. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you – for writing it down. I have been spending the last 5 months laying around my house, sleeping, and feeling absolutely sorry for myself. I must admit that I do enjoy being miserable but it took someone an ocean away to kick my ass.
    My husband and I were in a car accident on July 11, 2004. Some guy wasn’t paying attention and decided that ours would be a good car to turn in front of at 50mph – about 20 feet in front of. My back was broken and my spine compressed badly. The pain was unbelievable. I have never felt that much pain or been so scared in all my life.
    The accident was on a Sunday. I had surgery on Monday. The doctor said that people with my type of injury have a 10% chance to walk again. I walked on Friday and went home on Saturday.
    All the technical talk was an L1 burst fracture and a T12 fracture with 60% canal compromise. I had surgery to put two, twelve inch rods on either side of my spine and holding them there are twelve, two inch bolts. I had bone from my hip put around the spine. So now I have one big fused spine, with the ability to bend at the neck and the waist. Kick ass scar – right down the middle of my tattoo which I had just had finished two months before the accident. (Actually, the scar on the tattoo isn’t bad – the doctor liked it so they had a specialist come in at the end of the surgery so there wouldn’t be a scar running down that part of my back.)
    The pain was incredible. I can not remember a time when I was not in pain since the only things I remember were being in pain or being on a whole ton of pain killers, which makes you not remember anything.
    Recovery was a day by day event. Physical therapists and doctors appointments and long days and even longer nights. I lost all my muscle and about 20 lbs in weight. The effort it look to just try and sit up was unbelievable. I say “try’ to sit because I could not even go from a laying down to sitting up position on my own (but once up, I could take a few steps, go figure). My husband had to do everything. There is no dignity left in this house.
    Over the weeks, walking became a little easier. The effort to go from here to there was like running miles. I had to start from the beginning. And, I am still “starting”, as far as working out or doing any of my at home rehabilitation. Thing is, before this I was in shape, active and always doing something – a normal 27 year old. The past few months, after mastering the walk from the bed to the freezer for ice packs and stairs, were spent thinking about all the things I wanted to do but couldn’t do. Now, that I am able to start doing active things again, I have absolutely no desire to. The other problem was I got so used to doctors and family members telling me not to do this or that, that I am now lazy. At first I pushed and pushed – too hard. I did too much, too soon and risked re-injury. So, I’ve gone from “I want to do everything NOW!” to “Leave me alone, I want to sleep.”
    From one extreme to the other. Post surgery was a surprise I wasn’t prepared for.
    I am back to work now, part time, with no restrictions. I have to do what I know I can, and not what I know I can’t. But that is the extent of my physical activity. My whole life has been turned upside down. My family stood by me the whole way and helped to no end. My husband was wonderful but I can not even begin to describe the strain this whole thing has put on our marriage of just 5 years. We are going after the guy who did this in court but it will take years.
    The one thing that I can not get over is the extreme anger and rage that I feel 24/7, which is a direct result of wanting the head of the guy that did this to me for Christmas. Either that or breaking something of his so he knows how it feels. Being forced to ask for help with everything from lunch to going tot the doctor was the ultimate crushing blow to my usual control-freak attitude – this was the root of my anger.
    BUT, (there had to be a “but” coming up), I feel like such an ungrateful ass. Everyone says “You are so lucky!” and I think “Shut up!, I feel like hell!”. I can’t help but read your story and think about what a horrible bitch I have been since all this has happened and how I have let it put my whole life on hold. Or at least into some dormant phase of sleeping all the time and not doing much else. It’s been over 5 months and my bike is dusty, my hiking boots are dusty, and my weights are, yes, dusty, which is depressing. So, I figure that if it doesn’t hurt too bad, then I can do it all I want. And if it hurts, then I can do it a little. I don’t even care about the pain anymore since it is manageable now. I have never had to wear a brace, which from what I have read from your story and the comments, is something that I am glad I did not have to go through. In short, my ass has been thoroughly kicked. The remaining healing that I have to do with the bones, and the skin (another side effect that is just lovely – horrible skin around the scar so I can’t even show it off yet!) and my horrible attitude might be made a little easier if I got out of bed and get the “do too much” mind set back.
    You said that when your friends asked you if any good came out of breaking your back, you at first said “no” right away. I also answer that question with a “NO!” and not much thinking about it. I realize now that during the past few months of feeling miserable, there have been days when little ounces of positive thought have tried to come through. Actually believing that I am lucky and being grateful for my friends and family, trying not to be so angry with the ass who did this to me, and having compassion for others in similar situations. I hate to say that I squashed those feelings so fast I was shocked. It’s going to take a little time to admit that I am lucky, grateful and, the most horrible thing of all – that I need help.
    SO, I am not the only person to go through something like this. I may be the only person to be quite such a bitch about the whole thing but that is ending – now. I am not saying that I am not still pissing mad at the guy who did this and how I have had to alter my entire life. But, I can not afford to sit around on my freshly kicked ass and wallow in my misery. So what if my back was broken. I’m still alive and I can walk. So what if my skin is horrible for a while. It will get better. (I hope!). I hope.

    I sincerely hope that your recovery is almost complete and that you are back to all the things you love. I can only dream that one day I can have the same attitude of grateful understanding that comes across in your writing.

  18. oh my gosh im like a little emotional right now..ive been going through this broken back thing for 6 months now.. and i have found other people going through the same or worse.. thankyou for all your sharing.. i hope im not repeating my self i wrote something earlier but its not up..so forgive me if it shows up… …
    i was a media makeup artist … i had a good business that was growing.. then one day on
    the freeway my tire cap just came off
    all over the freeway
    the wheel veered to the left i lost control
    and my little cute bright yellow bug..began to roll over
    .. i yelled out ..im not ready yet
    and saw my kids flash before me…
    i awoke..my car was totalled all around me the top right .. where i was ..flat.. i was hit and i guess moved to the right i awoke laying on the passeger seat.. .. i dont know how i lived through it
    could not breath..
    feeling like a marshmellow.. i just looked with my eyes… are my legs there.. a man yelled out is every thing working . move your feet…. so many strangers came to my aid… wonderful strangers..
    any ways the back is broken.. t 8… how wonderful it is to here stories of people that are also dealing with broken backs.. what about all the emotional trama… the dealing with the old you and learning to love the new you .. and losing all that defined you .. or what you thought defined you .. the car .. the work..the money ..the independence.. the beautiful apt.. and finding out that family and friends that were egnored are there for you … finding god.. can you write me and tell me what you have found out after such trama … the doctor tells me the broken back wont heal.. the bone wont pop back up.. what about the pain … does that supside or go away… does any one have a great doctor they can share or a chyropractor in california. you are all wonderful to share..thank you so much for being here and sharing …what a blessing … love amber makeupsos7@aol.com

  19. mark i love your web sight..

  20. I have been hurt since 1998 my back is broken but I sill can walk and do a lot of things I have brake at L5 and nerve damage in other words I get bad pain down the back of my legs but I can take the pain I don’t let it stop me I look at it this way I can walk for now. But for how long I been told eventually I will lose all without a bone fusing but with the bone fusing I mite not walk all 50/50 chance I am not a gambler so I will site it out any suggestion?
    Leon
    Workers Compensation Law

  21. leon did your bone completely decompress.. did you lose the whole bone like i did.

  22. this site is fascinating…..on jan 31 my 18 year old son broke his back…t12 & L1 compression fractures….in a snowboarding accident. thank god he didn’t need surgery…he is in a brace except for when he sleeps for the next 5 weeks. he had follow up x-rays yesterday and he is still in alignment and the fractures haven’t collapsed. so, so far so good. but he is 18…..and the healing process is long. any advice for a kid with no fear and who thinks he’s invinceable? i’d appreciate your words of wisdom for my boy. thanks. kathy

  23. Kathy,

    I used to be fairly like that too sometimes, although this whole back thing brought me down to earth very rapidly. A few more decent injuries should calm hom down a bit, but I doubt that’s what you want to hear!

    It is a long and boring recovery. I got my head through it by looking forward to the challenge of getting fit again and planning how I was going to go about it. I walked loads, either just long walks about town (I lived in a little town and it was easy to escape) or up in the hills when I got stronger. This at least kept me feeling like I was in the outdoors doing something.

    Aside from that, there’s going to be a lot of time with nothing to do, so I’d spend it learning something. I developed my programming skills (very geeky), but he could just as easily get good at juggling, learn a language or something like that. I remember spending a lot of time thinking “So, this is what it’s like to not be into sports. How boring.”. I imagine he’ll be a lot like me.

    Good luck!

    To everyone I’ve not had time to reply to: best of luck with your recoveries. I’ve been super busy recently, but have thought more than a few times about each of the replies I have read – some amazing/scary stories. I hope you’re all improving more than you could have imagined.

  24. thanks so much for your reply. it’s very helpful, as is this site. get healthy and strong….nothing else matters! i keep drilling that to my son. he’s got to lay low for a few more weeks. scotland, incidentally, is top on my list of travel destinations. we loved the english countryside…adored the charm of the irish…. so now we want to check out scotland. we live in maine….so if you’re ever on this side of the pond we’ll treat you to a lobster.

  25. Just want to thank you again for your site and for everyone’s stories. It helps to know that I am not the only one who is going through the long, boring recovery. And, Amber and I have been trading recovery emails and helping eachother along.
    As for the recovery, I am back to work and getting back to as normal as possible. We’ll see what my next doctors visit reveals but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t hurt as much, which I guess is a plus. The hardest part now is finally getting to the end of most of the post surgery stuff and getting my skin and muscle back to where it was before all this happened. And, can’t wait for spring so I can get the bike back out. Too much snow at the moment.
    Keeping fit has been the hardest part of all of this, after the actual back healing. Walking is great but the temptation to sit and eat junk from McDonalds is really hard to resist. Hopefully spring will get here soon and I can get back outside. Either that or learn to ski, but my doctor might not like that just yet.
    Waiting for the Spain pictures…. can’t wait to see the pink hair.

  26. Hi my name is Adam I was hit by a bus I broke my back in three place all lumbar fractures. I also broke my heels. The doctor did an emergency operation putting 12 screws 2 plates and a rod in my spine they also put metal in my feet. I was in hospital for 3 months and caught MRSA. It has been 6 months now and I have had a lot of problems the painkillers I was taking caused internal bleeding and damaged my liver. I am having another op to take metal out of my feet which is sticking out. As for my back moving is hard and I cant walk far without a stick I have lost my career I worked as a Camera assistant in the TV industry. It is hard to stay positive but I always tell myself at least I’m not paraysled.

  27. Thank you, thank you for this site. I’ve been checking in for a few weeks but haven’t written til now. I broke my back on Jan. 19 (T12 burst fracture) by slipping on a wet floor at work. I knew the minute it happened that it was no ordinary fall.
    Was hospitalized for 6 days but they decided against surgery, thank God, and since then I have just been braced. I have come so far since then: I can walk unaided now and my pain is minimal compared to the beginning. I am not working, and am stuck home not allowed to drive and am generally going crazy. I am not a youngster like most of you (I’m 53) but I’ve always been active and not one for sitting around. One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with is the depression and loneliness. My husband has been a saint, and many friends have been invaluable but then it feels like others have just abandoned me once the initial shock of my accident wore off. And now that it’s been so long others seem to feel I must be back to normal. Well, I’m not!! Until this week I have not been out for a walk (too much ice and snow, and too afraid of falling). How do you all, and many of you have been much more seriously hurt than I, keep your spirits up?

  28. Keeping my spirits up – the biggest challenge yet with all this back stuff. The depression was a really big problem and for a while I didn’t think I was ever going to be able to enjoy life again. I know this is going to sound like the annoyingly positive people that say “Look on the bright side…” but it just goes one day at a time. There were days that I didn’t want to ever get out of bed again. Then there were days when I was so angry that I wanted to get up and do something – but I couldn’t. And when someone told me then that I should “Look on the bright side” or that “things will get better” I just wanted to get a baseball bat and ……. (not very nice language to broadcast).
    But, although I hate to admit to, they were right and it did get better and now I am back to work and doing a lot of things I used to. Ofcourse, I have to be really careful not to re-injure myself. And, there are some things that I really want to do since the weather in New York is getting nice and warm, but I am just about scared to death to get on the bike. I keep thinking “what if I fall?” or what will I do if I can’t physically ride a bike now? It’s almost better for me to not try and be able to think that I might be able to ride rather than try and find out that I definately can’t.
    But, go for a walk!!! The first time I was able to walk without help was the best feeling in the world. It was something that made me feel like I was getting my life back. Don’t get me wrong, that are still many things that are not back to normal. I am paranoid of mirrors because I hate to look at my back in any way. I can not stand to ride in a car unless I am the one driving. But the pain is manageable and I can walk and I take the pro’s and the con’s and think about how much worse it could have been.
    Please try to keep your spirits up. I try to think about the things I still have and look forward to the things I can still do.

  29. OK, she did not send that comment to herself. It was me and I am computer illiterate today.

  30. I found this site while sitting at home recovering from a compression fracture to my T4 verebrae. It happened because I took a 4 meter jump, landing on my feet (on crash mats)..stupid I know, but at 38 years old I thought I could take the landing. As soon as I landed I felt a sickening burning pain at the small of my back and knew I’d hurt myself badly. I picked myself up and walked over to a chair, sitting until I felt well enough to drive myself home. After 12 days of painkillers I finally went to the doctor who sent me to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary for an x-ray. I was sent immediately to A&E and given a quick visual neuroscan by a doctor and then given a CT scan to assess the stability of the fracture. I’ve always been in 100% health and never visited a doctor in the last three years, but that day in the hospital I was scared witless waiting for the consultant to come back and tell me what the damage was. I couldn’t believe I’d broken my back and was still walking around, albeit in severe pain. As it turned out I had compresssed and cracked my L4 vertebrae, one of the cracks went right through and the hospital wanted to keep me in overnight as there was a possibility the fracture could move if knocked. I signed myself out and spent the night trying to move as little as possible before an arranged appointment at the consultant clinic the next afternoon. Next day after sitting in a waiting room for an hour and a half while my x-rays and CT scan were located the Consultants’ first words were “You’re going to be fine” as he put my pix on the lightbox.
    I’m now wearing an elasticated brace which velcro fastens together every day, taking calcium and vitamin D tablets and doing very little else for the next three weeks. I have an appointment for more x-rays in three days time to re-assess the vertebrae. I’ve been told that it’ll take 4-6 weeks for the fracture to heal if there are no complications. I can walk moderate distances wearing the brace without much discomfort but cannot drive as my injury invalidates my motor insurance.
    The whole experience has, to be honest, been very scary. Whenever I think about my fall I can see myself landing in my mind and my hands literally start sweating. Reading the posts above had the same effect.
    The worst part now is sitting waiting for the bone to heal. Its true, its frustrating and sometimes you feels as though if you got down and did just any exercise it would make it better and somehow it’d heal faster. On the other hand you know that if you move the wrong way you could be back to square one again.
    Thats my tuppence for what its worth. I’ve been very lucky compared to the stories above and wish all of you a quick and full recovery.

  31. Hi hows it goin, was away on a student ski trip to france and after spending near enough 2 days on a bus got to france at 6 in the morning. Got to my room about 8 and went to sleep, woke up at 10 and stupidly decided to go out skiing. Well whilst nailing down the slopes at stupid speeds, was skiing behind someone and had a lapse in concentration. I then hit a mogul and found myself flying off the edge of a 20ft or more drop at the side of the hill. Big silence then landed on an empty towpath, feet first then onto my arse. Heard a massive crunch in my back, i bouced back into the air due to the impact then stopped sitting down 5ft away from another HUGE scree vally to my left. Well after being taken off the slopes were i was taken to a french hospital. They said it was a compression of my L1 vertibrae and i would need a brace. Was on my back for 2 days and wasn’t allowed to get up at all then i finally got a brace on. But it was a massive solid resin body cast, they couldn’t get me a good one because the consultant wasn’t in till the saturday( i did this on the previous saturday). Anyway after being mummyfied for three weeks due to aberdeen royal infirmary have a bad habit of employing retards, i finally got the thing off and i now have a removeable one. Which is great because it means i can have a shower. But get this i still have not spoken to a othopedic consultant at Aberdeen so i don’t know how well i am.
    On the bright side though, i would have died if i went off that other huge cliff riddled with jagged death rocks, and atleast i can still walk.
    Can’t wait to hit the slopes again, just bought new skis.
    Cheers

  32. Hey everyone. Not sure how I happened onto this site, but I’m sorry to hear about all your nasty injuries.

    I’m a fellow kiteboarder. I was out here in Long Beach California and a huge gust of wind launched me into the air and slammed me on my a**.

    L1 Compression fracture. Ugh.

    In the brace, doing nothing. I’m very ucky though, considering my Mary Poppin’s ride.

  33. I understand most people’s situations and incidents, and sorry to hear that it happened to all of you. My story is similar. April 17, 2005, went out with a friend on a motorcycle, creepy part was, my intuition was telling me not to get on. 5 minutes after ignoring my inner voice, I was thrown off the motorcyle at a speed of 65 mph. I was blessed that I didnt die, I had 3 x-rays, 2 cat scans done, ended up with a concussion, and a factured t-12 lumber. I had 3days of physical therapy after being doped up on morphine, my pain started to subside. i was realeased on the 4th day being april 21. i am now in a tlso brace. one doctor says that i my back will be healed in 4-6 weeks, because i just had a chip in my t-12. then the big neurosurgeon says that i have to wear the brace for 3 months, and it about to be summer and hot as he**! it sucks im 22yrs, and trying to finish college, and now its on hold because of my supidity. never again will i ride on motorcycles unless im the driver and not on a major highway.
    Good luck to everyone and i hope that god recovers you all, so that you can go on living your lives, as the last post said above im been lucky because of the other stories i read, surgery was an option, but all the doc think its a simple thing it will heal! speedy recovery,

    Kara

  34. On a similar theme to other posts, I was told I would never write with my hand again by the physio, which made me more bloody minded to prove them wrong, and after about a year I was able to. I wonder if the shwred physios take a good guess at how you will react and pitch it that way.

  35. Miles,
    Yeah, I think physios and doctors do that on purpose. I was told three days after my surgery that I had a 10% chance to talk again. I walked three days later and I have been fine since the therapy. No marathons but I just got ok’ed to ride the bike a while ago. Finally got over the “what if I fall and mess up things even more” question and treated myself to a new bike. Can’t beleive I waited this long….

  36. Typo Update – That should be “walk”, not “talk”. My spine injury had absolutely no effect on my ability to talk, or yell, as the hospital staff can tell you.

  37. Hi there, nearly 6 months ago I suffered a compression fracture in a weight lifting accident as an athlete. I spent 4 months in a tls brace, which as a few of have realised, kind of hinders bed time activities………

    I am very lucky, but I will go back to weight lifting and even Pole Vaulting.

    Reading your stories and messages has given inspiration, as I have been really struggling with motivating myself.

    Keep with it.

  38. after i fell of a swing today right onto my back will it be broken or bruised it hurts when i run onit

  39. i was in auto accident friday may 13 2005. had a fractured 11 and 12 vertabrea, a long surgery. i am now wearing a tlso kinda turtle shell brace for 3-4 months. i am typing this flat on back now. has any one had this brace and do you get taken off it any earlier? my rib was used to build up back support. thank you and God keep blessing you.

  40. Sean – to be honest, I’ve absolutely no idea if you’ve seriously hurt your back or not. I hope not, although I think a doctor is the only one who can really tell you.

    Julie – that sounds like the sort of brace I (and a fair few others here) wore for 3/3.5 months. It might not seem like it now, but it does get a little easier to deal with when you get used to it.

    Good luck everyone.

  41. Hi
    I can’t believe there are so many people in the same situation. I am a very active 34 year old and fell down 5 stairs at home. I was in agony but not wanting to scare my daughter and her boyfriend asked them to help me to the settee, In pain all night, tried a bath but did not ease the pain, then tried RALGEX (does not help broken bones!) I was too embarassed to phone work for sick leave as the day I fell down the stairs was my first day back at work folowing emergency surgery for an appendicitus. So i drove 35 miles to work, sat for 2 and 1/2 hours in a seminar and then spent approx 30mins walking around looking for a specific restaurant. Returned to the office but the pain became unbearable so drove 35 miles home. eventually i was advised to go to A and E, where I was told I had Fractured T7, was admitted for 10days and fitted with abrace.
    had to lie flat on my back, Only discharged when a care agency agreed they could come out to me to assist with washing. spent 3 months on my back with the brace, after the first 6 weeks was allowed to take small walks. Also suffered, that the brace changed my posture so much it affected the nerves in my left arm and left it in agony and virtually immobile, intense physio has since fixed it.
    during my recovery period I sold my house and had to move to my parents for 4 weeks and then move into my new house, very interesting with a broken back!!!.
    I returned to work on light duties after 3 1/2 months(very little driving) I know feel about 80% back to normal, struggle to slouch or sit in a relaxed position. but on the positive side I am approx 1 and1/2 inches taller due to my fantastic posture. I also have a very different outlook on life, which is:
    LIFES TO SHORT, SO ENJOY IT!!!
    My only problem now is the weight gain, I also had to give up smoking, and I am not able to exercise yet. I do do a pilates class once a week which is great but am not able to do any thing else yet.
    I am celebrating at the moment as I have not worn the brace at all for 5 days and have driven aprox 300 miles, which is a major milestone.
    good luck to every body on this site and to the most recent people IT DOES GET BETTER
    Thank you to every body for maqking me feel normal

  42. Greetings from Montana! My name is Erika and I am a 33 year old female. On March 19, 2005 I received a T12 burst fracture after a snowmobiling accident. I had spinal fusion of T11-T12-L1 the following day. They took a bone graft from my hip and put in 6 screws and 4 rods. I was in more pain BEFORE the surgery. Immediately after the surgery my plastic turtle shell brace was waiting for me and the nurse said I could put it on and walk around right away. I think I sat up and made it to a chair the first day, walked more the second and third day, and was discharged from the hospital on the fourth day. The surgeon told me that I would have to wear the brace for 6-8 weeks. After two weeks at home I decided to go back to work (my boss was kind enought to pay me full time regardless of how much I worked). I am a bookkeeper and I sit in a chair all day. The first week I worked just 2 hours a day and then tried to increase that by an hour every week since. I am now up to 7 hours a day but I leave if I am too tired or in a lot of pain. I haven’t been taking pain medication that much. I think my broken rib and fractured tailbone hurt much worse than my back. I had an appointment with a local doctor (actually their physican’s assisant) 2 1/2 weeks after surgery. She didn’t give me much info, just checked my x-rays to see if the metal was still in place. She told me I would be in the brace for 12 weeks. Three weeks after surgery I called the surgeon who fixed me (in another city) to inquire about exercise. He said walking was good and that I could do some upper body exercise using 3-5 lb dumbbells provided that my back was supported and it didn’t hurt. I met with the physican’s assistant again on May 5. She checked my x-rays to see if the metal was still in place and said I could start physical therapy after my brace was off. I am going in for a CT scan on Monday (it will have been 12 weeks since my surgery). I have a dr. appointment Tuesday and hopefully I will be allowed to begin weaning myself off the brace. I optimistically scheduled a physical therapy appointment for Wedsnesday – hopefully I will be able to go! I had to fly on a plane about 8 weeks after surgery. The screeners were pretty nice. They took me aside and wanded me then took swabs of my hands and Velcro straps to check for any explosive residue. I was told by my physicans assistant not to remove my brace. It never was an issue. I am really glad that I found this site. I have looked all over for info regarding my injury and spinal fusion and haven’t found much until now. I’ve been trying to eat healthy and have been taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. Before my accident I was in the best shape of my life – I believe that helped me. The hardest thing has been the depression. I have lost 10 lbs and I am weak and tired all the time. I am looking forward to some good news in the next few days. Since my accident I have learned to not be so hard on myself. I am also more appreciative of EVERYTHING! I am so thankful that I wasn’t paralyzed and that I feel as good as I do. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am trying to learn as much as I can from this accident and be a better person. In the next few days I am going to begin using something called “Scarfade” on my scars. It is supposed to provide improvement in the appearance of scars for up to 2 years after surgery. I’ll let you know if it works. I wish everyone a speedy recovery!

    Erika

  43. I am a 50yr. old female and I broke my back on May 23rd. I came off my 16.2 horse while she was bolting for the barn. After 5 1/2 hours of surgery, I now have 2 rods and several screws in my back. I have never needed anyone so badly in my life to help me with so many simple things. I hate that part of this whole thing. My husband has been heaven sent and has been there every step of the way. My whole family has been very supportive. I do get tired of hearing “you are doing great – you really are”! Yeah, put this shell on and take my discomfort for one day and then tell me that. And as Meredith said, there is NO dignity in this at all. I own a dog kennel and this week (one month later) I started coming into the office for a few hours a day. Of course I still wear the turtle shell and will for about 4 months (3 more to go). It is getting very hot here so that makes walking hard. As for pain, I have been very lucky that it was not as bad as I have heard it could have been. The hardest part was moving from one side to the other in bed. That takes forever. I do have some discomfort in one leg when I am walking. I hope this goes away. I have to stop often and sit for awhile when I am up. I wonder if I should try to bear that and keep walking. It was great to find this website, though and hear so many stories that sound so familiar. I just hope that I (and all you) will one day be back to normal!

  44. Hi everyone. Its been great reading about lots of people who have experienced incidents similar to mines. I’m only 20 years old and unfortunately broke my back (t12) only 4 1/2 months ago. I damaged my back in a collision with a goalkeeper whilst playing football. As I lay on the field unable to move I was scared at the thought of being unable to walk at only 20! I could just picture myself resigned to being in a wheel chair.
    I spent the next five days in my local hospital before being moved to the southern general in glasgow. The staff, doctors and nurses are all amazing people and I owe them all so much for looking after me. I still wasnt out the woods yet however and it was thought that I was to be operated on to pin my back. Fortunately my age came to the rescue. Although i’m 6 foot 1, I apparently still had soft, suple bones which were still growing and was mending well.
    In the end I was to wear a brace for 12 weeks once I left hospital after 3 weeks. The brace as many of you will know is not pretty and I had to wear it to university everyday which was horrible. Its just so restricting and sweaty!
    Anyway its off now and i’m feelin stronger everday and just thank my lucky stars that I can still walk. It certainly gives you a fright and just reminds you how fragile life is!
    I certainly hope everyone is progressing well!
    Cheers!
    Ed

  45. have you made a full recovery yet mark? have you been back kiting yet?

  46. Hi Ivy
    I had the same problem with my right side, when I got tired or over did things my whole right side seem to drag slightly and be in more pain, it seems for me the nerves in my right side felt the break more, it’s now 5 months and the pain/dragging feeling is getting less and less. I would recommend that you don’t overdo things as it does knock you back. good luck

  47. Hey –
    I somewhat recently broke my back. I fractured my L1 vertabrate and I didnt think many people have. I am 16, and I was 15 when it happened. I fell off a horse I was training, and I was the smart one who had two people help me into a car cause I was too hard headed. Im still in some pain and a little freaked out about competing in showjumping… well,,, because Im jumping 5 feet on a 1500 Lb animal with a mind of it’s own. But I am riding again… and I am releaved im not the only one! It’s pretty hard, listening to some of our stories, so painful. Take care-
    -Elana

  48. Kiterboy – yeah, I’ve been kiting again, but not like before. Looking back, it was obvious that one of us was going to get seriously hurt sooner or later! I still enjoy heading out and messing about with kites on occasion, but I don’t see me getting back into it as seriously as before. I know what I’m like and that would be asking for trouble.

  49. Hi--I have just spent my afternoon reading all of your wonderful comments-which I can totally relate too. I was in a car accident on dec 30. I broke t11 and t12 and my sternum. It has been a long painful recovery. I had a 6 hour surgery and 3 weeks in the hospital and 1 1/2 weeks in in-patient rehab. Very greatful that I can walk. Thankfully, I’m out of my brace now (wore it for 4 months)it was getting pretty hot in Florida and the WonderWoman talk was no longer cute. I am now to the point that I think I might feel better if I toss all the medications that they have me on. I’m tired of being tired. I have terrible pain in my back still and pain in both legs that runs down from my bottom behind my knees. I also have trouble with my left hand and left foot going numb. But, I think that not being able to sleep at night(having to reposition all the time) and waking tired is getting the best of me. So, off to the Docs--can’t sleep-okay—try these zombie pills. And thats where I’m at now.
    Thank you all for listening and your not alone--no one can understand better than someone thats experencing the same. All my best. email me if you wish—stealth2c@aol.com

  50. Wow. I feel like I got off easy after reading some of your stories. Long story short: fell on a wet tile floor, hit hard on my tailbone, ended up with a compression fracture of my T10. Spent a few days in the hospital; had a metal brace that led my daughter to call me “Cyborg Woman,” and had way too much time spent staring at my bedroom ceiling.

    I seem to have healed okay but the fracture site developed arthritis so it aches badly in certain weather.

    Nine months after the accident I got diagnosed with a reproductive cancer. That was a different horror story but I got past that too.

    In February I fell off a ladder and destroyed my ankle joint capsule. A walking cast and crutches eventually became a cane and brace. I’m still in PT and have a painful limp, but the medical people involved seem impressed that I’m walking as well as I am with just an elastic wrap support now.

    I measure my progress over months, because improvements can seem invisible if you compare progress daily or even weekly. I don’t feel particularly brave or noble for just chugging along through all this, though people seem astonished by my good mood and (dark) sense of humor about these things. What other choice do any of us have except to keep going…?
    Good healing to all of you :>)