Harrington Rods and Synex Cage

Hi, my name is Jaedean and I was thrown from a horse in June of 2003. I landed on a chunk of dirt that shattered T10 and T11. I laid in the field for one hour until I was found and then waited for another hour for the ambulance and another hour until I got to the hospital. It was at least another half hour until I received any pain medication as they wanted to make sure I did not have a concussion. I was transferred to another hospital which had a neurosurgeon and that took another couple hours. My accident was at 2:10 pm and I was not admitted until 12:30pm. That was a Tuesday and my surgery was not until 11pm Friday. They kept me on a large dosage of morphine to help with the pain. At this time I didn't have much feeling in my legs and the muscles already started to atrophy.

I was given a choice to have surgery or not but I thought that was rather stupid to ask. I had a shattered back, 3 broken ribs and a fractured shoulder blade - of course I was going to have the surgery. I was warned I may never walk again but my faith in his surgical expertise helped me to believe I would.

After 13 hours I had Harrington rods from T8 to L4 in my spine. They took bone from my hip to lay on the rods. Now came therapy to get me to walk. That took alot of praying and pain. My children asked if I could walk and I promised them I would. I was in the hospital for 27 days and then I had home care come in to help with my recovery. I was put in a body brace and sent home to recover.

My therapist was an angel because she wouldn't give up on me when I said I couldn't do something. She worked with me for 2 months before I could get to the hospital outpatient therapy department. I had lost all balance and control of my legs and the recovery was very painful. I started with only a 1 lb weight for arm curls as I had no upper body strength either.

After 6 months I was out of my body brace and able to walk short distances with the help of a cane.

Now comes a part of the story that makes me angry. I bent over to reach for something and the right rod snapped! I heard the thump as it echoed in my chest. I went to the hospital and they did an x-ray but didn't go high enough or at the right angle to see the break. The pain increased and so did my medication.

In April 2004 the second rod broke when I was at the hospital and the doctor told me it was just a muscle cramp. My ass it was! I was in so much pain I almost passed out. I had dilaudid with me and hydromorph and I took an incredible amount just to dull the pain. The doctor in emergency just gave me a shot of torodol and sent me home.

After 2 weeks I couldn't stand the pain so I went back to my surgeon's hospital and they admitted me right away - the rods were 1/2" apart and I was bent over. It was a miracle I did not compromise my spinal cord any more than it was already.

I was admitted and booked for surgery again. This time they took out the broken rods and the 14 screws and replaced them with a shorter rod and only 8 screws. The rods now go from T9-L3 and my shattered T10 and T11 vertebral bodies were replaced with a synex cage. This surgery took two teams of surgeons, 6 litres of blood and 14 hours. The incision for the synex cage went from my shoulder blade around my ribs to below my belly button. They cut my diaphragm, deflated my lung and fixed my spine that way with the synex cage. They also removed my bottom rib to grind up and put in the synex cage for the fusion. This incision was extremely painful and still is today.

Because my body did not accept the fusion the first time, they used a bone morphogenic protein to encourage bone growth on both my Harrington rods and the synex cage. I have very little movement in my spine and lots of lower back pain and neuropathy in my legs.

I am currently on gabapentin for the nerve pain and a long lasting pain medication for the day. The pain is still increasing and I am looking for alternatives to alleviate the pain. Massage of my lumbar region works for a little while but the stiffness returns as those muscles are used for walking, standing, etc. I am considering prolotherapy or rhizotomy to help with the burning in my legs and feet.

I was given a no win diagnosis from a back pain specialist who told me I would never get better and only get worse. I don't believe him. I believe there is something that can be done.

If you have any ideas or words of wisdom for me, please send them to me as I am only 45 and have two children I would like to join for walks and other activities. I am currently 'disabled' and I don't like that term. It makes me angry and determined to help myself any way I can without the use of drugs.

That is my story. I hope by sharing this I can help someone else understand they are not alone and maybe I can receive some inspiration from someone else as well.

- Jaedean

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