I think it makes sense for me to explain the exact details of my injury to save any confusion. Of all the other people with SCI (Spinal Cord Injuries) who have blogs/websites etc, very few seem to go into detail about the exact nature of their injury. Or they seem to do the opposite and write the word for word medical description that is so confusing and I don’t think anyone could make sense of it. So I will attempt to explain my injury as best as possible.
I have a T8 Complete spinal injury.
The T8 part refers to the part of the spine that I fractured. I actually fractured two of my vertebrae (T8 and 9), but when referring to the injury, you just say the highest level of the spine that was damaged. T8 is the eighth vertebrae in the thoracic part of the spine. As shown in the picture below… (I love visual aids!)
The ‘Complete’ part of the injury is where things get a bit confusing. SCIs are either Complete or Incomplete. And unfortunately for me, Incomplete is the one you want if you’re going to get a spinal injury (well I think it is anyway!) A complete injury basically means having no voluntary motor or conscious sensory function below the injury site, and incomplete means the opposite; that there is some voluntary motor or sensory function. There are exceptions and different classifications within this and it all gets much more complicated, but in a nutshell that is how it works. There are also hundreds of different syndromes and causes of injury that all have different names and explanations, but mine is pretty straight forward.
It is possible to start off as a complete injury and then become more incomplete, which is the direction I am hopefully heading in. The doctors and clinicians I have seen in America have told me that my injury is incomplete, and who knows if that is them being nicer or more optimistic than doctors in the UK, but it makes me feel better when they say it!
So that is my injury explained… or that is how it was diagnosed when I was first in hospital. I feel no need to get ‘re-tested’, as the whole process is humiliating. It involves being prodded by an object that is blunt on one end and sharp on the other. They start on your face and move down, and I have to say ‘sharp’ or ‘blunt’ or ‘can’t feel it’. It is not fun, and the first time I had to do this (about 3 days after my accident) I just burst into tears so they stopped! Afterwards they ask you to try and wiggle your toes and then you both stare at a pair of lifeless feet and wait for movement.
No surprise that I am not begging to be re-tested when I go for my check ups at the hospital. I’ll keep my T8 Complete label thank you!