After the first night in hospital, I was still fasting as I was waiting for my MRI scan and that only happened at 12noon. I have previously watched shows using the MRI scan numerous times but I have never done one personally before. I’m a little cluster phobic so it became quite a scary experience for me. My head was clamped in the “helmet” head lock and my neck locked due to the neck brace I was wearing (I have no idea when this was put on me). As the doctors were doing a full body MRI scan on me and I was told that it would require 20mins to complete the scan.
As I was wheeled into the machine, I entered the “tunnel” and the ceiling was so close to my face. Negative emotions rushed through me. I immediately closed my eyes. Keep them shut as tightly as possible, but I would occasionally take a peek.
#I have no damn idea when I peek when I know the ceiling height wouldn’t change. *faceplam*
Goodness, the ceiling is really so close.. feels like its gonna be collapsing on me…
Im gonna keep my freaking eyes shut for this whole procedure..
Sleep… zac.. sleep..
Morphine.. please work now…
Space out.. please…
*takes a peek
Wa lao eh… (Singaporean version of wtf)
Stupid. Why I peek..
Sleep… zac.. sleep…
Nurse: Zac, is everything ok for you inside?
Zac: yes (trying to be brave. As usual)
N: ok. Get comfortable inside. You will be staying there for quite a while..
Im really gonna throw up soon.. freaking scared…
The machine started making this loud humming sound. I guess it has all started.
Dear Lord, please… let this pass quickly.. I know this has to be done for the doctors to do a better diagnosis on my conditions. So please spare me some mercy and let all these pass soon. Let me fall asleep in your comfort and let time fly by.. please..
After a while, the machine stopped humming.
Dear Lord! You are the best! That was fast!!
N: Ok Zac. The machine has finished warming up. We will start the scan now.
N: Remember to be as still as possible. If not, we will repeat the MRI again.
Yeah. I will be as still as a log. No way am I going to do this again!
Stay still now zac! Don’t move! Breathe slowly.. stop playing with the thumb. Relax… sleep.. close your eyes.. sleep.. but don’t move..
Side track – When I was 5, I got stuck in a tunnel at the kindergarden playground and the teachers had to save me from the tunnel. Guess that’s when this fear all started. Mind you. I wasn’t fat then. I was really thin and slim. *glares at you*
As the doctors might want to do an immediate operation on me should anything bad is shown on the MRI, my stomach had to be emptied to be put under GA. So after my MRI, I was wheeled to this other room and it was full of female nurses and I was still on fasting status. I requested for water and was rejected initially. Eventually they gave in to my request.First sip of water after almost 24 hours!!! yeah!
Even when paralysed. doubled checked.
In that room, my hand splints were made. It was one of the most horrible experience in my life. Splints are made from melted molten hot plastic sheets that are wrapped around the arms, thus keeping the arms, hands, wrist and fingers in the desired position. My arms were still hyper-sensitive then and the touches from the nurses, plastic, pressure to wrap the mold into shape felt like the nurses shredding my arm. To make matter worse, the temperature of the melted plastic was greatly exaggerated. It felt like molten metal being poured and pressed against my shredded arms. It was hell. It was so painful, I so wanted to scream till my lunges burst. But I tried my best to hold it in.
Get a hold of yourself! A lot more challenges are about to come your way. Even harder ones, even more painful ones. Never give up. Fight this. You need to embrace this now Zac. Its time to start fighting. Do not let other sympathise you. Fight this battle strong and well. You want to get back on your feet to run another marathon, do you think its gonna be easy? Come on. FIGHT. Hold it in.
After I had my splint done, I was sent back into my Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This was the first time since the accident that I was not “high” and that I had some quiet time to finally think about some stuff.
This is the second time I cheated death. The first time was 4 years ago where I survived a car crash that “modified” my 4 door Nissan march into a 2 door sports model. I suffered a little brain damaged, a little blood clot, suffered some memory loss, lost gross motor movement for weeks and lost some fine motor skills for about a week. I wonder what is there to life. I was once a rock and roll artist and that life seemed a little pointless after the accident. I made a career switch to studying sports science and eventually became a marathon runner. Looking at it now, it is all pointless again now. So what is life all about? What will I feel the next time I lie on the ground, looking up into the sky when I take my final few breaths? Till now, I have no exact answer.. I always say “I like to live life like today’s my last”. So if I do not wake up after this blog post, will I feel any different? I have no answer. Maybe I have been given another chance to find that out.
Anyway, back to my splints, I am supposed to be in crucified position (literally be put into a lying cross figure like how Jesus was) for 2 hours and in “normal” position for 2 hours, even when I am sleeping. This meant that the maximal hours of consecutive i would get is 2 hours. In addition, I was not allowed to have any tilt in my bed, not allowed to turn my head, not allowed to turn my body, not allowed to use a pillow. Since I was paralysed, the changing of arms position was fully dependent on nurses. All I could see was the ceiling. I couldn’t see the nurse, I couldn’t see my hands. It was quite a depressing feeling. Thankfully I remembered to count my blessings, remembered to be thankful that I am alive.
One day at a time.
One night at a time.
Do not think so far. As long as I breathe, I’m going to fight hard.
This is not the end for me. This is a new start. A new chapter to my colourful life.
Whether this is going to be a good or bad chapter depends on what I make of it.
One step at a time.
Fight on.. fight on.
I have never given up. This is not the time to start now.
My determination has no equal.
After the 2nd night, I was finally officially removed from my fasting status and was able to take my first official sip of water. Although I was not briefed of my outcomes from the MRI scans, I concluded that it must have been somewhat positive because no surgery was needed. Every second that I was conscious, I did mental training to get the EMG firing and to try to delay the lost of muscle memory or neuro-connection. I imagined myself running along with my team mates. I tried to recall how the arms swung, how the legs moved, how the body made such a complicated movement looked so easy. I tried recalling how it felt to play the piano and imagined myself playing the guitar. I tried moving my right thumb and right big toe as much as possible, hoping that it might trigger my left side.
Physios came into the ICU to do a number of tests on me. Lung capacity test, sharp-blunt test, feather test (sense of touch) and was unsuccessful on numerous occasions because I was either too drugged-out (still taking my morphine) or it was too painful due to my hyper-sensitivy and it has to be aborted. As an endurance athlete, seeing my lung capacity decrease due to pain was morale-sucking. There goes my last bit of bragging rights… then I heard the emergency alarm.
Nurse: His heart rate is below 40. Crashing!
And a couple more nurses came rushing in..
only for them to realise I am in a stable state.
Nurse: Is this normal for you?
N: Are you a runner?
Zac: Yes. I am a marathon runner.
The emergency alarm kept ringing throughout the day/night and the nursing staff decided to remove the heart rate monitoring on me because 1. They believe I will not die because of heart failure 2. because the beeping was too irritating for them. From then onwards, this has been my cheap thrill to hear the emergency alarm go off. This was my positive feedback, for me to know that although I am paralysed, I am still fit and I will continue to fight this battle, through my Lord’s grace, I will fight my way back.
Lots of friends came to give me support during this tough time. Thanks to you peeps, it kept me sane, it encouraged me. I didn’t say much because I get really emotional easily. Im quite a softie. You guys are angels to me, to help remind me of the light at the end of the tunnel, to let me know I haven’t been a bad friend. Thank you. Thanks to Steph. You were the first to come. Special thanks to my supervisors Paul and Kym for being there for me, taking care of school matters, to give me a peace of mind that enabled me to focus on my recovery. Special thanks to Alex for bringing me the balloons, it really made my ceiling so much prettier. If not for the balloons, I would have stared at an empty white ceiling for 7 days (168 hours; 10080 minutes; 604800 seconds). Phil and Grace for the wonderful chocolate basket that I will mention in a much later chapter. My coach Grant came one evening to inform me that my team mates did well in the race! Positive happy news for me! Missing my team mates lots and missing the grueling session Grant provides. Hey guys, if you are reading this, work hard! Work in my share of training too! m/
|Thanks for adding a smile to my ceiling Alex. Hope i didnt freak you out with my injury. Work hard and God Speed! =)
Hi. I am Zac. I am a son, Victorian, musician, sportsman, a friend to some super awesome peeps, survived a car crash, sports scientist, survived a bike accident and now a spinal patient. I live to fight for another day with my friends in our wheelchairs. Good to meet you.
|My slightly cleaned blood splattered sunnies.
To be continued..
prepared and written by Zac Leow