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My nephew is a C5 complete and we are terrified!

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    My nephew is a C5 complete and we are terrified!


    I would appreciate any replies -

    My 23 yr old nephew has a severed SC at the C5 level and quite frankly I am terrified and heartbroken. He was having trouble breathing Saturday - he was injured friday the 16th - so they put him on a ventilator. He had his fusion surgery - from the C2 to the T1 on Monday - they are supposed to do a trach tomorrow. They have found infection in his lungs so they have started anitbiotics. I am so scared. Is this all part of the recovery process? Should be alarmed at the infection and at the troubles breathing? He is also having problems regulating his temperature and also his vitals - BP anf heart rate.
    Someone please help me - let me know if this is what should be expected and when he will possibly be stable.
    Also have any of you done any Hyperbaric Oxgen Therapy? Does it help? I am just absolutely terrified - I dont know any other way to put it. PLEASE HELP US AND PRAY FOR JEREMY!
    Also I would like to say Im sorry for what happened to all of you and your familys. This is an awful AWFUL thing.
    God bless you all.
    We are in Louisville, KY so I feel blessed that we have good hospitals. Has any ever heard of Frazier Rehab?

    Sorry to hear that.I had a lung collapse during surgery.IT took awhile to get off the vent.while in ICU they played music 24/7 which helped.I'll pray for you aned your family.Keep your spirits up.
    Be yourself!!!
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      So sorry you found this site. I know what you are going 11 year old niece Katie was injured a month ago. While I can't offer you advice I just wanted to let you know you've found a terrific site with awesome people.

      My thoughts and prayers are with you, Jeremey and your family.



        I am so sorry to hear about your young nephew. I like van damn had only the collapsed lung with mine, but I'm sure others on here have experienced a very similar situation with their injury and will post soon to provide personal information and just know {{{{you and your family}}}} are in many prayers tonight.

        Don't give up hope...

        Your life is what you make it, and only you have that choice!


          sorry to hear about Jeremy, but glad you found us so fast. you will get alot of great replies. sadly enough, what he is going through is very typical for SCI.. not everyone goes thru the exact same things, but we all have been thru hell dealing with this..

          are you sure it's severed? in most cases it's not, but possible.. a trach this soon? not sure what the recommended time is, but i was on the vent 12 days, never a trach...

          pneumonia and lung troubles are the norm.. having upper respiratory problems will be a long term concern with SCI.. it's very manageable, but he is still in the early stages.. once he is more stable, things will get alot better..

          concentrate on being there for his parents and hopefully friends are/will be visiting. that was crucial that my friends came to see me in the ICU and hung out when i got stable..

          how did he get injured? i'm a c5/6, complete, just over 3 1/2 yrs.. i promise that things will look up, just hold it together thru this initial, tough time...

          Life isn't like a bowl of cherries or peaches. It's more like a jar of jalapenos--What you do today might burn your ass tomorrow.

          If you ain't laughing, you ain't living, baby. Carlos Mencia


            I too send my condolences your way on the awful news. You may not see a lot of improvements for several weeks to a couple months post SCI. Hang in there for him and everyone else in the circle of family and friends. You never know what positive improvements are around the corner even though things may seem very discouraging now.

            When I was going to rehab, they emphasized two things, 1. Directing your care, & 2. Post SCI education. Knowledge is extremely important of which you will get a lot of here! As far as directing care so that he will make sure everything he needs is taken care of to keep him healthy is also important.

            When I was in rehab I was learning how to take care of myself, but getting the nurses to practice what was being preached to me, was terrible. Some can be pretty worthless, but that's another story and going off-topic here.

            Good luck, there are many people praying for your nephew and loved ones.



              There's a link above, to an article Dr. Young wrote about new spinal cord iinjuries. It's written for families and will answer a lot of questions. You should print it off for all the family to read.

              I think I've heard Frazier Rehab is good. There is a list of Model SCI centers, get him into one of them.

              Link to list of model SCI rehabs:


              What makes you say his cord is severed? That is very unusual. How was he injured?

              These are dark days for your family. See to it that everybody is fed, watered and rested. This is stressful and you must take care of yourselves.

              Learn all you can. Knowledge is power. You did good finding us this fast. WATCH HIS SKIN! Don't trust the nursing staff to do it. Skin breakdown happens fast and will set him back in rehab. Insurance companies don't give much time in rehab so don't let his skin slow him down. He needs to be turned every 2 hours.

              He's having trouble breathing because part of his diaphragm is paralyzed probably. My injury is c5-6, mine was, but it worked itself out. We (quads) do have compromised respiratory function.

              We do have problems regulating our body temperature, and blood pressure is off in many of us too. The spinal cord controls a lot of stuff. He'll learn to work around it.

              If he's fused from c2 to t1, he busted himself up pretty good. Does he have other injuries also?

              I'm sorry, but I've never heard of hyperbaric oxygen helping.

              We're here for you if we can help. There's a lot of experience here. We've all done it, we've all survived it, and your family will too. It's rough but it will be okay. Not the same, but okay.

              I'm praying for him. Send him our way when he's ready.
              Last edited by betheny; 22 Jun 2006, 7:51 PM.
              Does This Wheelchair Make My Ass Look Fat?


                So sorry to hear about your nephew I will be praying for him
                Be always determined in Life and Love


                  My 23 yr old nephew has a severed SC at the C5 level
                  This is MOST unusual. How did the accident happen? It is extremely rare that the cord is severed (cut in two). Most often it is crushed or bruised, and there is no way this early to tell how complete the injury will be eventually. Physicians who say otherwise really don't know what they are talking about.

                  He was having trouble breathing Saturday - he was injured friday the 16th - so they put him on a ventilator.... they are supposed to do a trach tomorrow.
                  This is very common if he actually has a C5 injury. It takes more than 9X the energy to breath for someone with a cervical injury than for an AB. It is common to fatigue and get less and less effective at breathing a few days post injury. This can cause respiratory failure, and adds to the risk for pneumonia, which is also very common. It is likely that he will be able to be weaned from the ventilator but it can be a slow and arduous process at this level of injury. A trach is best if the time on the ventilator is prolonged more than a few days, as an ET tube can cause a lot of damage to the trachea and voice box that is difficult to repair latter. It is more comfortable for the patient too, and reduces the risks for sinus infections.

                  They have found infection in his lungs so they have started anitbiotics. I am so scared. Is this all part of the recovery process? Should be alarmed at the infection and at the troubles breathing?
                  It is part of the territory. Most people get past this eventually, but lung problems remain a risk for most people with cervical SCI. It is very important that the right antibiotics be used. Also, the right methods need to be used for clearing secretions. This includes "quad" coughing, use of IPPB and a Cough-Assist machine (ideally) plus proper hydration and suctioning. Unfortunately suctioning and a trach also make you make more secretions. Frequent turning and chest PT (percussion) will help loosen the secretions up, but the lack of coughing muscles (primarily abdominals) means that he will need assistance to get the secretions out. Hang in there...this nearly always gets better in a good hospital with good medical and nursing care.

                  He is also having problems regulating his temperature and also his vitals - BP anf heart rate.
                  Also common. His autonomic nervous system used to communicate with his body through the spinal cord. Now it cannot. With an infection he will run a higher fever than an AB. He will feel cold and hot more easily than you or me. His brain cannot properly speed up his heart rate when metabolic demand is high (fever, low blood oxygen, etc.) and cannot vasoconstrict the blood vessels to keep his blood pressure up normally. Medications can be used to stablize his blood pressure and pulse in the ICU...very rarely is an external or internal pacemaker required although I have seen it needed in a few patients. Because he won't sweat when he has a fever, it is important to dampen his skin with wet washclothes or a spray bottle to help get fever down. Tylenol may help some, and a fan in addition to the water, but a cooling blanket may be needed for high fevers. Watch his skin...the cooling blanket can interfere with the pressure reducing bed features. The low blood pressure also makes him more vulnerable for pressure ulcers.

                  Someone please help me - let me know if this is what should be expected and when he will possibly be stable.
                  This is all very common. It is difficult to say how long this will take, but it is common to have to be in the ICU and on a ventilator for 2-4 weeks after an injury like this, and the trach may need to stay in place for weeks or even months after getting off the vent. We often admit patients for rehab who still have their trach.

                  Also have any of you done any Hyperbaric Oxgen Therapy? Does it help?
                  I have seen no good evidence that hyperbaric therapy is of any value in acute spinal cord injury, and as sick as he is, it would be logistically quite difficult, and even dangerous due to problems with use of equipment inside the tank and lack of access to quick emergency response from anyone not already inside the tank with him. We have seen it only helpful in certain types of infections from pressure ulcers and osteomyelitis.

                  I am just absolutely terrified - I dont know any other way to put it.
                  This is normal. It is a very scary thing...many families say it is the worst thing that ever happened to them as a family. You can survive it though. It is important for family members to be involved, but also to take care of themselves. Take time to sleep and eat properly. Ask friends who offer to help to do something specific that will take a load off of you (mow the lawn, walk the dog, run errands, clean the house or cook, do the laundry, etc.). Don't feel you need to be there 24/7...plan family member shifts and take the time off when someone else can be there.

                  Has any ever heard of Frazier Rehab?
                  Frazier is one of only two CARF accreditated Spinal Cord Systems of Care in the state of KY. The other is Cardinal Hill in Lexington. If you cannot get him to a Model System SCI Center, this would be the next best. The sooner he gets to rehab the better. It is not too soon to call them and get information about their program and even go over there for a family tour:

                  Frazier Rehab Institute
                  220 Abraham Flexner Way
                  Louisville, KY40202

                  Keep posting here. Feel free to ask questions (no dumb questions, only off-target answers sometimes!!!). So sorry you had to join our little club here, but there are people here who understand. Take advantage of that.

                  Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 22 Jun 2006, 9:10 PM.
                  The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


                    I am very sorry to hear about your nephew and feel your frustration and pain. My son was injured last November - 21 years old ,C6. Remember to take care of YOURSELF and remind other family members also-very important at this time. My prayers are with you and your family.


                      Sending good thoughts for all of you!

                      Hi there

                      I was lucky enough, like you to find CC and another message board soon after my brother's accident and feel so lucky that I happened to find them both cause they helped so very much. I know how you feel right now - it's really tough but will get so much better. My brother is C6/7 complete and at the time and soon after his accident, I could not understand how people on the message board could tell me he could have a good independant life, but I do now. All that kept going through my mind at the time was: damn, he is paralyzed from chest down!

                      It's been almost 2 years now and he lives on his own with an aide 3 mornings a week. It kinda still freaks me out that he can live on his own but I spent the night at his place not long ago and know he can manage on his own ok.

                      It's all overwhelming for you now, but things do get better.

                      I hate to read about a new SCI cause it is so tough, but you all will get through it, as hard as it is.

                      I am hoping for the best for you all and keeping you in my thoughts.


                      P.S. If I could be of any other help to you, just send me a private message.


                        I am also new at this and do know what you'll are going through. It is hard but 8 weeks later it is slowly getting better. I love this forum as I have found so many answers to what my son is going through. He is a T 7-8 Complete and also had many other injuries from his accident. ICU was really tough on all of us. We just take it one day at a time and pray all the time. Will keep your nephew in our prayers.......Oh, I am really encouraged about all the research out there and have a lot of hope.


                          So sorry to hear about your nephew. It is tragic and I feel your heartbreak as does everyone on this site - we have all been there. My son is a c6/7 2 yrs. post (22 yrs. old) and it went by very fast. He has come a long way. Please tell your nephew (I told my son this over and over while he was in ICU) "DON'T LISTEN TO THE DOCTORS!" There are lots of things happening in research and please tell your family to not give up hope - ever! Hope is what gets us thru each day. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.


                            My son had a C4-5 complete injury in 1998; he also developed pneumonia, lung collapsed and was on a vent for 3 months; was weaned off the vent and has had no problems since then.

                            It is very scary; take things one day at a time, and come here as much as you can to learn.


                              Thank you all for the information and support!

                              Jeremy was in a car accident - strangley enough he didnt have ANY other injuries - a few lacerations on his legs but that is it. He was in the backseat when the car struck a telephone pole. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown into the front seat - he is tall around 6'3" and we think he must have jarred his head either on the roof or dash or somthing. The boy that was driving pulled him out of the vehicle -which IMO probably severed the SC. The docs said that the cord is severed they said this after surgery. He does have pnuemonia (sp?) What do you all mean watch his skin - what should I be looking for? With the cord being severed is there a chance he may regain a couple of levels ogf funtion - maybe to a C6 or 7 ? Or is that impossible with a severed cord. I just want to FIX him. It is just sooo frustrating that all the money in the world could not FIX him. He is awake now for the first time since the accident and I am scared to visit now because I dont know what to say or do? Advice?