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Seeking any advice, help, information...anything

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    Seeking any advice, help, information...anything

    My boyfriend was in a car accident. He has a C5 break. C6 and C4 basically compressed together and shattered C5. C6 has a fracture but so minor, they weren't going to do anything about it.

    He moves right arm a lot. When he arrived at ER, was moving both arms but since he has been in ICU and after surgery, has not moved left arm much. I haven't seen it personally but his family has said he has since moved his left. However, they are looking for any little sign to give them hope. I have hope for him, with or without movement. I just don't want false hope. He cannot yet squeeze hands and he does not have feeling in his legs.

    I am wanting to know what I can do for him. I'm not just his girlfriend of 6 months, or a year, 5 years, or even doubled that. I know, why hasn't he put a ring on it! We dated on and off through high school (4 years) and this october will be together for 7. So almost 11 years!

    I don't want to say the wrong thing and I want to be prepared for all the stages he will go through. He is unable to talk right now due to breathing ventilator. There are high hopes that he will have that out Monday, 2/11/13 and have trach put in. I don't want to say the wrong thing and I also want to be able to shoot down any negativity he has right away. I want to guard my spirit and hopes from the rollercoaster he is already begun but will soon be able to ride with a voice.

    Doctors have said it is "highly unlikely" he will walk. However, after researching and finding this absolutely amazing site, I don't believe it even more!

    Any advice is welcomed. I just joined this site tonight so even an email to my account would be great.

    thank you anyone and everyone!



    You sound like an amazing person, and I know you want what is best for HIM> please keep in mind that some will PUSH AWAY their boyfriend or girlfriend ( I have seen this more with men) during this time. I was in rehab with a guy who did just that...he didnt want the girl around for many reasons I am sure the men here could better explain. So my advise to you is be there and supportive but do not allow yourself to be emotionaly on a roller coaster through what may be his own journey and one he may or may not want you to be involved in..

    In other words, take care of yourself, your health, social life, personal needs and fullfillment. You can not allow yourself to hang on every word or every need of HIS. If he accepts your love and support, great..but don't be a victim and alow him to disrespect you and hurt you. Set some boundaries. It will be better for him in the long run to know he can not treat you like a doormat (if this does occur-it may not) and for you to have self esteem and respect.

    It just occurs to me that you may have been hanging on and giving more in this relationship for a long time..maybe it is time you let him show you how much he wants YOU in his life.
    "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.” ~Carlos Castaneda


      Thank you so much for the support and advice. It will not be forgotten!


        Reassure him that things will get better. It's so hard to believe sometimes. But with time and therapy, he will adapt. Your encouragenent will be appreciated. A couple suggestions, however: (source: I am a T12 complete para female, injured the end of last summer, married two years+, together for 12 years)

        1.) Be realistic about his injury. Hope he will walk again never hurts, but a spinal cord injury is severe trauma to the body. Help him cope with TODAY. Try not to let him focus on the past, and don't let him fall into the maybes of the future. Today is what counts, so start there.

        2.) Stages of grief don't happen in sequential order. He might be okay one day, in denial the next, only to be sprinkled with bouts of bitterness, anger and extreme sadness throughout. Let him grieve how he sees fit, and try not to push him through any stage. He may take some things out on you. Try to be patient. Losing the ability to control your body is not easy to deal with.

        3.) This is related to #1, but the "your brain is a powerful thing. Just will your body to recover" speeches get old REALLY fast. Use sparingly.

        4.) Be prepared for how hard its going to hit you too. Since it sounds like you are an outstanding girlfriend, and you plan to help him through this rather than bail, this will change your life too. Lean on each other. Cry, laugh, yell scream... doing these things together just might be therapeutic.

        5.) Be prepared to watch him struggle. Fight the urge to jump to his aide with everything. He will be taught how to be as independent as possible (depending on his abilities, realize he never may be 100% independent.). He will need to adjust, and its very, very hard to do so. But getting help everytime won't allow him to learn.

        6.). Granted I'm not familiar with your relationship dynamics, but lots of hugs and kisses never hurt. Remember, and remind him, that the person he is is not in his hand, or his feet. The person you love is still there. Just slightly, physically modified.

        That's all for now, I guess. My husband and I actually have developed a closer, perhaps stronger bond since my injury. I'd be happy to offer advice in that vein too, anytime. Be strong, and stay the fantastic girl you seem to be. He may not act like it at times, but he needs you now, very badly.


          There are going to be a lot of challenges ahead, but I think it might help both of you a lot if you had some basic understanding of what's going on. Paralyzed veterans of America has some excellent educational resources on their website.


          "Blessed are the pessimists, for they hath made backups." Exasperated 20:12


            Just be yourself. He's the same guy going through extraordinary circumstances.

            Please let him cling to 'some' normality (that means you, the person he has been with for 11yrs). You're going through this too so take care of yourself as well. I'm so sorry. I hope he improves.

            Good on you for seeking advice.
            Last edited by lynnifer; 7 Feb 2013, 6:08 PM.
            Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

            T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12



              I was in your exact shoes 5 months ago, to the day - my husband shattered his C6 and was offically diagnosed as a C5 incomplete quadriplegic. Let me first start off by saying (and you will get tired of hearing this, but its true) that things will get MUCH better regardless of what function he may or may not get back right away. I was on this sight 5 months ago asking the same questions and was given great advice and i will give the same to you. Be patient and be there for him. Listen to what the doctors say to you, but dont take everything to heart. I've figured out, after much venting on here about negative doctors, that their job is to prepare you for the worst and it is your job to hope for the best. Get him to the best inpatient therapy center that you can, this makes all the difference in the world when it comes to his mental and physical recovery. I was terrified when my husband was in the ICU and I was so afraid that I would lose "him" You are both going to go through your own grieving process, but like with any loss you will learn to adjust to a new normal. My husband was released from inpatient and discharged back home to me at the end of December and he's already plucking my nerves like he used to do :-) Keep your head up :-) if you want to private message me, or ask or talk about anything I will be happy to help. I'm not a veteran at this yet, but I would be happy to extend the same courtesy that was given to me 5 months ago


                I'm so sorry to hear about your boyfriend's injury. I remember well those early days after my accident and how frightening they were. I'm glad you posted here and have already gotten such wise advice from those that have responded. Things will get better. Right now, you probably feel as if a big box of puzzle pieces have been dumped in front of you and you have to put them all together at once. I"m sure there are more questions than answers. Just a few things to add to what has already been suggested.

                Keep a journal of your bf's progress, observations and things the doctors and nurses tell you. Things can get into quite a muddle, especially under stress. This will help you keep things straight. Have your bf participate in this.

                Take very good care of yourself. It's exhausting being a loved one at a time like this. Take time each day for a break...a trip to a coffee shop, a TV show. Get sleep and eat well.

                I wish the best for you. Please let us know how you're doing.


                  stay supportive, but first and foremost stay his girlfriend/wife (when it happens) and not his caregiver.


                    I just wanted to say hello My "hubby" (11 years, no ring!) is a C6 . His accident was 7 1/2 months ago. My best piece of advice is that you must educate yourself - I would come home from the hospital every night and read until i couldn't stay awake anymore. At first I was SOOO overwhelmed . There is so much to know when it comes to a spinal cord injury. But the more educated you become, the more confident and capable you will feel. He will be hospitalized for awhile, and this gives you time to learn. When he comes home, you will be faced with a lot of crazy things . You MUST be educated.
                    There is no way of knowing how much he will recover. He may or he may not. This is why I decided that the only attitude is a positive one. In the hospital i told him that he would get better. And i still tell him that every day. I told him that people beat this, and they do. I kicked the phsycologist out and told him never to come back (he came in saying " you're most likely stuck like this.. and you need some antidepression medication). When you're in the ICU with a tube stuck down your throat is not the time to be worrying about your entire future. Don't lay anything too heavy on him right now. Just keep telling him that its gonna be okay. Thats all he really needs to know at this point. I don't think its cool to tell someone that they will never walk again, especially when they are in the ICU.
                    Try to eat The forum is awesome. You will probably find yourself here a lot over the coming months.. We'll be here


                      Hi Heather,

                      I know you & your boyfriend are going through so much with his recent injury, but hang in there...over time in the next few weeks to months his injury should stabilize & he should get some recovery after what's known as 'spinal cord shock' or swelling wears off.

                      He's fortunate to have loved ones like you supporting him as he is in the hospital & goes through what for many of us who've has spinal cord injuries, was initially a terrifying time.
                      Loved ones, like a girlfriend are usually a huge source of support at a time like this after a traumatic injury when it seems your entire life & existence is turned upside least in my case my girlfriend at the time all those years ago was when I first got hurt. Remember to take care of yourself too.
                      C4/5 incomplete, 17 years since injury

                      "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same.” - Carlos Castaneda

                      "We live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom: our body." - Marcel Proust


                        I agree with all these posts in response to your reaching out for help. It has been 6 1/2 years since my injury. C5/6 incomplete. I was 60 at the time of injury. Totally paralyzed and on vent for starters. The first two years incredibly painful but I kept moving - or being moved. Found some great P/T's and now I walk several times a day. (in the early days I could barely do 30 seconds in the standing frame without passing out). I recently was able to stand up from a chair and remain standing completely balanced without the help of anyone. This was huge for me. My fingers started coming back a year or so ago and I can use an Ipad. Bowel and bladder have gotten better but still not perfect by any means. Your journey will have its own story and as others have said, don't give up hope, don't listen to doctors who say you he won't walk again, do everything you can to get the body moving again. You and he can do it and will do it if you forge ahead.



                          First of all I just wanted to tell you all THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Each of you have helped so much in your own ways and have given me awesome advice to work with. Some things I am extremely grateful for I would have never thought of it or never would have approached it the way you mentioned.

                          I'm sorry it has been so long! I headed back to school after the first week and now have started picking up a few work hours again. But it was so comforting to get the email alerts someone replied!

                          Ryan is doing so good! He has been off the breathing ventilator for 72+ hours. We are looking to transfer him to rehab soon! They will be weaning him off the trach as well as starting physical rehab. I am getting good at reading lips!

                          Thank you again so much everyone. I can't wait to show him this site with such great advice and personal experience from every angle. I cannot express how grateful I am to have stumbled upon this place!!!

                          THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! =)


                            Originally posted by bulletc5 View Post
                            stay supportive, but first and foremost stay his girlfriend/wife (when it happens) and not his caregiver.
                            This is excellent advise. My accident was about a year ago & I have been blessed/lucky in my progress/healing. I was in the hospital for 9 months, but I do remember my wife and I discussing our future - and her future as my wife and NOT my caregiver. You may want to help, but in my opinion, help him do things on his own. Keep private things private. This forum has been so helpful, realistic, and healing - stay strong.