17 years old and me and a couple of my friends went out to Mad River bridge for a huge party in the woods. You guessed it, I drank too much! I was sitting on the side of the bridge warding off some drunk horny teenager and I fell off the side. Landed right on the top of my head in shallow water.
One of the other kids there who saw me go over ran down to pull me out. I was very out of it and complaining that I was tired and that my neck hurt. There was a candy striper there who was saying not to let me go to sleep. She started telling me something about having slept with my boyfriend trying to get me mad so I wouldn’t pass out. I finally get up to kick this chick’s ass and that’s when you hear the sirens.
I was underage and drunk off my ass. Looking back I’m not quite sure why it warranted me escaping to the woods but that is what I did. I take off running. The cops chase me down and have to drag me back kicking and screaming.
Everything got very hectic and confusing. I wasn’t sure why I was being held down. There was an ambulance and they were trying to strap me to a board but no one would talk to me and just tell me what was going on so I just kept trying to escape. They would pull the strap across my forehead then my shoulders and as they are trying to get the next strap I’m reaching up to undo my shoulders. I tell them I have to pee they told me to piss my pants.
I was taken to Griffiss Air Force base (it was still an active base) since I was still covered by the Air Force insurance but they weren’t equipped to handle the situation. My neck was broken. The lowest of my neck bones, they would have controlled my arms, the disc was shattered, one vertebrae was broken in 2 places, the other in three. I was rushed to Upstate Hospital in Syracuse, NY. I needed a halo brace placed on my head. My blood alcohol level was too high for any kind of anesthesia so four doctors each with a hand on a screw, four screws placed around my head, all screwed their screws in at the same time. ¼” into my skull. That was the most painful thing I have ever felt in my life. The pressure was unreal!! I thought my head was going to explode!
Then they were done.
I remember laying there not moving, my head hanging from these screws. I felt so helpless. I felt like I had been beaten nearly to death and couldn’t feel anything or stop anything. I spent another couple of days in the hospital before going home. I stayed with my mom since I needed help in the mornings now. I needed help bathing since I couldn’t take of the vest my brace was connected to. It helped immensely to have my neck rubbed in the morning when I woke up. In fact, my mom used it as a way to punish me when she was mad. She would leave for work without waking me up to rub my neck. My shirts all had to have the collars torn or stretched out to fit around the bars of the brace.
One night … drunk again …. My boyfriend got into an altercation that I tried to get in the middle of to break up. I wound up being knocked back into a fence where I bounced off and fell to the ground. Passed out for a few minutes and came to as I heard sirens approaching. I was off and running again. I forget how my mom came to come get me but I was in the car with her and she was heading home but I wanted to check on my boyfriend. She wouldn’t drive to look for him so as she came to a stop light, I opened the door and jumped out of the car. And again, I was off and running.
I spent a few visits back out to the doctor during the time I had the brace on. The screws would loosen and I would have to go in to get them tightened. After this night, I went in for x-rays. Apparently, the knock and fall I took had misplaced some of the bones but it wasn’t bad enough to rebreak the whole thing to reset it. So now I have kyphosis. I’ll be a bit of a humpback someday, haha
Let me remind you, I was 17 and it was the early 90s. I teased my hair, used a ton of hairspray, and wore makeup. I hated how it looked. I always felt like a transformer. I used to get infections when makeup and hair spray would get into the screw holes. Always the front right one. My whole side of my face would swell and I would have to get antibiotics. I was so tired of this damn brace!! I was supposed to wear it for 3 months and it had already been 2 months. While my mother was at work one day I closed myself in my room with a pair of pliers, laid down on my bed, and unscrewed the screws from my head.
I admit it was a little scary but most people would probably not be surprised to know that doesn’t exactly stop me. Everything went pretty well until the last screw. The front right one. As soon as I took it out, my eye closed and I couldn’t open it (the screw was in my forehead to the outside of my right eye). Then I was like, shit! All I could do was lay there. I hadn’t supported my own head in 2 months. I couldn’t pick it up. But good news, my eye finally opened!!
My step father was home during this and had called my mother. She had rushed home from work. She came busting in telling me to get my ASS in the car! I refused to go back if they were putting the brace back in!! Oh my god I was such a stubborn brat!! I was promised they were using a different brace so I cooperated.
Back up to Upstate Hospital they told me this was not ideal but they gave me a brace that sat on my shoulders and had a chin rest so I could just sit my chin in it and at least not have to hold my head up. Deal!!! We went home and I had a job waitressing in a diner within 2 weeks.