WHOLE BACK AND HEAD INJURY AFTER A TERRIBLE FALL
I fell on August 1st 2019 from a 6.4′ ladder, all away to my whole back. The ladder moved, and projected me on a hard floor. I even heard the crack it did on my back, especially in the middle of my back,
After months of doing nothing to even understand or do the tests necessary to diagnose the extent of my injuries, I just learned yesterday – something I knew already because of my weakened legs, the numbness, the fatigue, the pains and my readings here, on Mayo Clinic articles – that I have a spinal cord damage.
I am in the UK now because I came as a tourist on October 2019 and hoped to stay a while, but I couldn’t go back to the US because of my fall and also because of COVID 19.
To make it short, because of lack of test, diagnosis and treatment, I can now hardly walk, stand or do whatever I used to before my fall. In 6 months, I became a true old woman not because of my age, but because of the suffering and lack of treatment.
Now I need to know: can something be done, still, or am I going to go worst everyday, as it was my case since my fall, to finally become totally paraplegic, paralyzed, or worse.
I say worse because now, I have additional symptoms I never had before: blisters in my skin, some kind of painful pimples, rashes, head pain and confusion, memory loss, terrible fatigue, nervousness. My life has become a nightmare.
I want to add that in 2013 I also had a brain aneurysm surgery (no rupture) and since my fall, my head also has problems: pituitary cyst, injury near my clips, CSF or possible hydrocephalus.
If anybody had this kind of experience, or some of it, I would love to know what was the outcome.
Thank you very much for your kind support, all of you, and hope and which everyone a wonderful recovery.
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Spine Health Support Group.
Hi @ergodesign, and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You really have quite a story. Falling off a ladder on a hard surface leading to possible spinal cord injury and most certainly traumatic brain injury. I'd like to bring fellow members @darlingtondoll @dawnpereda @kw1904861 @carnes @treyaj @jenniferhunter and @staffordpark into this discussion so that they can share their experiences and thoughts about your injuries and what to do.
While you wait for others to join in, you may be interested in this video Q&A. It talks about brain injury and spinal cord injury and their differences in a younger population, but may still be relevant as you seek answers.
– Video Q&A about Enhancing Upper Limb Function in Brain and Spinal Cord Injured Patients https://connect.mayoclinic.org/webinar/video-qa-about-enhancing-upper-limb-function-in-brain-and-spinal-cord-injured-patients/
Ergodesign, can you clarify the timeline for me? You had the fall off the ladder in August 2019 and were able to travel in October 2019. That must've been a very difficult journey. Now, because of compounding symptoms due to the fall and lack of follow-up care (as well as COVID), you are unable to return to the US and things are getting worse. Did I sum that up correctly?
Have you received a diagnosis in the meantime? What rehabilitation or treatments have you done?
Can you come back to the US now?
Thank you Colleen: I fell when visiting my friend in France first, but in France, in the ER, well, just say it is not perfect, so I forced myself to walk and despite my pain, I took a taxi and went back to my friend's. I was OK really despite my terrible pain, but I could walk. A family doctor I went to see, even said: You walk, then you are OK. As incredible as it seems, my walking and the other problems occurred a few months later when I was in England.
In France, I had two MRI's: one for the head, one for the spine. Well to be short, for the back they found a fracture compression on vertebrae L2, and nothing else.
But for the head, despite my giving them my clips reference, they must have put the MRI strength too high, because I had pain while I was on the table. Then I had dizziness and nausea. This is why I believe it is so difficult to know if it is my head or my spine that is responsible for my legs' weakness and numbness now.
In England, they found an injury near my clips, that the French didn't find. So is it possible that the injury in my head, near my clips, had damaged my aneurysm surgery?
I still don't have my answer to that.
They also found CSF, a cyst on my pituitary gland, enlargement of my ventricles – but said it's not hydrocephalus, although it seems I have all the symptoms and the french radiologist said I have hydrocephalus – but he is the only one who said it – But the weakness and numbness started in November and I went to the hospital in London end of December. They kept me one month but didn't do the MRI. They said they didn't have a spot for me at the MRI because they needed one hour and a half spot that they didn't have. Finally they discharge me without any test.
The English doctors said I have discs damage, pressure on the disks, degenerative disks – which I always knew I had since I was 45 years old but never really suffered from it – but nothing like spinal cord damage, until last Tuesday. I was 74 years old last June 5th.
By then, I had tremendous difficulty walking and my brain was very painful (pressure on my temples, feeling of cold liquid running inside, headaches and very strange noises). I had difficulty concentrating, some memory problems, so I had to stay put.
When I decided to go back to the States anyway with assistance, COVID 19 happened.
Finally, I had my MRI only on April 27, and I couldn't see the doctor before last Tuesday June 16, when one of the young doctors said I have a spinal cord damage. And that is it.
Now I want to go back but I really don't have the courage to travel for such a long time. I am staying now in a hotel. It is also true that I wanted to have the final word from the doctors in London. I don't think I achieved so much.
@egodesign Oh you poor thing! Now I don't feel so bad after my surgery. I was in the hospital for 7 days for a fusion in my back from T-10 to S-1, I was in t he hospital that long because of a blood being off and having very low blood pressure.
I feel for you and hope something goes better for you. It must be very scary. My prayers sent your way.
Thank you very much for you empathy. And I am sorry about your surgery. What surgery was it? I am sorry, I didn't read it because now here is 10.35pm, and I need to go to sleep. Tomorrow, I will read the details of your story.
I hope by reading your stories I would know what to do. I believe I need a good doctor, one specialized in what really is causing my problems. But it seems it's not so easy in Europe
And thank you for your prayers. I send you my prayers as well for a prompt and total recovery
@ergodesign Thank you for reaching out and welcome. Do not let COVID stop you from returning to the US. If you can get a respirator that filters out particulate efficiently and snugly fits your face, you can wear that and put another cloth over it and also wear eye protection like shop glasses. If you have a window seat, there is less exposure to other passengers and the filtration systems in jets is usually pretty good which you can set to blow on your face, but you will be in close proximity to other people for a while and you can wear a respirator that long comfortably because it has a valve to let air our when you exhale. Do you have health insurance in addition to Medicare that will cover your treatment? Since your last post, I see that you said your age was 74. That is a big consideration because the cost of spine and brain care will add up to a lot, and if you have insurance that Mayo would accept, my advice is come to the US and straight to Mayo. Mayo has reopened and is doing a great job with testing and keeping patients safe and reducing risks for COVID. I had surgery at Mayo a couple weeks ago and was tested for COVID with the swab and serum tests before I was cleared for surgery for a broken ankle. People fly into the Rochester airport from everywhere. Mayo is back open for business with lots of precautions in place, so do not hesitate to come if that is a viable option. If not Mayo, then hopefully at another good teaching interdisciplinary medical center.
I do see since I wrote this, that you have posted some imaging results and that a doctor said you had spinal cord damage. That usually shows up as a white area inside the spinal cord on an MRI. Get digital copies of all your imaging and medical records. In some instances, the spinal cord has a limited ability to heal if it is uncompressed. If you think back to the injuries of actor Christopher Reeve, and the recovery he had, even being able to walk in a swimming pool after becoming a qudrapalegic after breaking his neck was a true miracle and he was very determined. You need a skilled specialist to give you a prognosis and possible surgical solution. It's been several months since your injury and there should have been some bone healing from fractures, and it may have healed with poor alignment. Only a spine specialist can tell you how bad this is. Bone remodels itself because of pressure. I am a Mayo spine surgery patient and I grew bone spurs into my spinal cord because of the uneven pressure caused by a disc that ruptured and collapsed. That bone growth was able to advance significantly in 9 months time when I compared 2 sequential MRIs. I had surgery that removed the bone spurs and freed my spinal cord and I recovered very well. If your situation is similar, surgery would be needed to free compression of the spinal cord, but that is something only a doctor can tell you. If your issues are caused by spinal cord compression, physical therapy likely will not help, and the sooner you get treatment, likely the better your recovery could be, but again, I'm not a doctor; that was my experience when physical therapy stopped helping and all I could do was use PT to try to maintain proper alignment before my spine surgery.
You are probably correct that this likely will get worse, so listen to your body. I have read several posts of a young female patient in the UK that for some reason did not have surgery or was afraid to have surgery and she is wheelchair and bed bound, and in constant pain. I thought that would happen to me if I allowed my condition to progress. I do know that patients in the UK wait forever to see spine specialists and even to have surgery scheduled because they do not have enough for the country's needs even in normal circumstances. I also had leg weakness and numbness which was caused by spinal cord compression in my neck. Here are a couple patient stories for my surgeon and one of them is mine. Let me know if I can answer any more questions.
Hi Fighter. I am thinking of it. I am very weak. I am trying to get a little better before I do. There is also the COVID. I must find out if I can go back, plane, etc. Do I have to stay in quarantine, etc. This is going to be a challenge. I wanted to have perhaps some physiotherapy thinking it would help me a little, but I am not sure. I have to prepare for it. Sure!
Do you have anyone that can meet you over there and fly with you back to the states? Yes, covid is an issue. Maybe a red eye flight could be better with less people? I wouldn't fly on a packed plane that's for sure. I'm immunocomprised, and I wouldn't think of getting in a plane, going out for dinner, etc. Hang in there, but as soon as you can get back here is the best as you know! Prayers for you.
Curious, by any chance did you get travel insurance for your trip when you bought your ticket? Sometimes it can help pay for healthcare issues that arise while traveling. I started doing this since I got older for those very reasons. If you didn’t then obviously that won’t help here – but maybe you did and forgot? Your situation sounds miserable and frustrating. Hope you can get the help you need asap!