We had been at the beach all day, and the lifeguards had just left their towers. I guess I should specify who all was there. There was a group of Young Life leaders up in Fenwick Island, De. We drove up right after camp to kind of blow off some steam. I mean camp is an awesome time, but you can get really worn out in the process. So the group that went up there was Jon Marshal, Melissa, Anna, Ryann, Heidi, and me. This was our first day at the beach, and things were kind of winding down. Jon Marshal and I had been in and out of the water a couple times body surfing, and we had dug a sweet pit that we could sit in outside of the shade. So as things were winding down Jon Marshal and I were running and jumping in the water. We would run and jump into an oncoming wave. Usually we would dive under it, but sometimes we would just let it hit us directly and knock us over. So I decided that I was going to swan dive into the next wave. So the wave came, and I ran at it and jumped under it. I didn't even feel my hands hit water. The first thing that I felt was my head crushing into the sand. This is where things get a bit hazy, but I do remember thinking what had just happened was extremely bad, it was not what I had planned, and that I was probably really hurt. So as I kind of bounce off of the sand, I realize that I cannot move any parts of my body. It felt like there was lightning running throughout my whole body. My hands, fingers, feet, and toes were all just tingling. It was like the intense vibration of a resonator was inside my body and I could not stop it, and as I felt this tingling all I could hear was this eerie white noise. I remember instantly thinking, I am underwater and I cannot move, I need to try get on dry ground right now. I wasn't able to stand up and get out because my body wouldn't move. The water was pretty deep too, I wasn't able to touch the ground with my hands to try to push myself out of the water. I could still barely move my feet so I started kind of chopping them up and down the get them moving and to slowly inch my way out of the water. Somehow in this whole process I had been flipped onto my back and my head was able to get to the surface. I have no idea how that happened because when you dive, your back is up, and I don't remember flipping or anything after the dive. But anyways, after I got my face out of the water and got a breath of air, I just started yelling for help. I yelled, "help, I can't feel my hands!" After a couple of yells Melissa and Anna came and started pulling my out of the water. The grabbed my hands and said, "We saved you Scott," with big smiles on their faces. As they said that I said, " Guys I am hurt really bad," trying to convince them that I was really hurt. They both said that it was okay because I was safe now. I remember looking Melissa in the eye and saying, "Melissa, I hit my head really hard, and I hurt my neck really bad." After that she knew I wasn't faking my injury. I'll be honest, in that situation I wouldn't put it past myself to fake an injury. So it makes sense that they thought I was messing around at first.
After saying that, a lot happened really fast. A doctor and a nurse came out of nowhere and just completely took over the situation. They lied me flat on some boogie boards and the doctor held my neck stable. They checked my spine and everything else. By that point, my feet weren't tingling any more, but my hands and arms were still going like crazy. I remember feeling a wave of emotion as they started to check me. My neck didn't hurt too bad; I mean it did, but it wasn't killing me. I just felt like what happened was just so stupid. As I heard Melissa talking on the phone with my parents, I felt so bad that what had happened was going to stress them out so bad. I had also ruined the beach trip, so I felt pretty crappy about that. As all of this hit me I just started crying because I couldn't do anything, all of this stuff was happening, and the pain was starting to get a lot worse. The nurse was able to reassure my fears, and she kept me calm until the EMT came.
When the EMT came they strapped me to one of those boards and carried me to the ambulance. I remember talking to the EMT about my accident and just how dumb it all felt. I asked him if he ever got in any dumb accidents. He said he had a couple years ago in an ATV accident, and he said, "That's just life happening. You don't plan it, it just happens and you deal with it." He also told me he was having a son in a couple months and again that wasn't something he planned on, but it was something that he would have to deal with. I just remember thinking that I would just have to deal with this first before I could do anything else that I had planned on. Before Wyldlife, JMU stuff, or marathon training I had to recover from this injury.
At this point, I also thought that my injury was just a stinger. The EMT explained it as an injury where you take a hit to the head and your nerves flare up from inflammation in your neck. I guess the main reason they thought that was because I could move everything and I could feel stuff in my arms and legs. So in spite of everything I was able to keep calm because I thought my injury was just a stinger. Based off the EMT's description, I thought I would be able to go back to Ryann's beach house that night, and I would be able to stay with them at the house. So in my mind, I was doing okay and nothing huge had happened.
We got in and after a twenty minute ride in a ambulance, lights blaring and all, and we arrived at the hospital. When we go there the first thing they did was give me a cat-scan. The results seemed to take forever to come back and after waiting what seemed like forever to get the results, a doctor came in and said "son it looks like you have broken your neck and we are going to have to fly you to Washington hospital." My heart sunk when I heard those words. I was no longer fine, I had a broken neck, a shattered C5 and a broken C6, and I just kept thinking I was going to be paralyzed for the rest of my life. At that point, there was nothing more the hospital could do so they sent my friends into my room in groups of three. It was awesome to see them, and it was hard because no one really knew what to say, but they all assured me that God was in control and that they were praying for me. I remember talking to Isaac and looking at him and thinking about all of the stuff that we had done together and crying thinking about what an great friend he was being with me in such a hard time and having the courage to assure me that God was in control in spite of everything that was going on. Also the fact that I had 6 other people in the waiting room that came in to be with me and pray with me was just overwhelming. I thought I did nothing to deserve friends like these. We prayed and prayed, and finally the transport team came and got me ready to move to Washington Hospital Center.
They gave me some sort of medication for the trip because I remember looking around in the helicopter thinking that I was feeling pretty calm for having just broken my neck and being transported in a helicopter to a hospital where almost anything could happen. Maybe it was the spirit giving me a sense of peace, and yeah the fact that I was on meds helped too. All I could think of was I would do anything to get better, and whatever it took I would do it.
So finally we get to the hospital and they move me without stopping the blades on the chopper which was pretty exciting. I got into the hospital and I was bombarded with a bunch of doctors that asked me the same questions that I had answered like a gazillion times before. The tingling in my hands had almost gone at that point, but it had lasted longer in my right side. I found out that the tingling was my nerves reacting to inflammation in my neck and they began to give me steroids to reduce the inflammation and stop the tingling. So I heard a bunch of different things from different doctors, "You're going to need surgery," or, "You will only need a brace," and, "Well you are going to get a halo around your head to stabilize your neck." Each one was said multiple times by different people so even at that point I didn't know what to expect. I was pretty calm still, and I remember being comfortable which was a huge plus because I was boarded at the first hospital and that was a pretty uncomfortable position.
So the main doctor said that they wouldn't know what needed to be done until I received an MRI. The Cat scan showed my bones, but the MRI would show the soft tissue. If there was extensive damage to the soft tissue than I would need surgery, and if not than other measures would be taken like a brace or a halo. There was a wait for the MRI, about an hour, and we just waited and eventually they called me in. Throughout all of the waiting, I was able to move my hands and feet, and I kept checking to make sure I could still move everything. So after the MRI we get the results and they tell me that I need surgery. I remembered as a little kid my brother and I talked about having to go to the hospital and I remember him saying, "Just never get surgery that's the worst." Well I was getting emergency surgery at 7 the next day, and there was no fighting it. It was about 10:30 at night, and I had to wait out in this room for them to clear a spot for me in the intensive care unit.
It was then that my pastors walked in and it was a huge relief to see them and just to be able to talk to them.I remember just being excited to tell them that three of my kids at Wyldlife camp accepted Christ. They prayed with us and stayed for a bit until I got into the ICU. Once in the room, I realized that I was facing the clock, and I was basically counting the time until my surgery. I asked the nurse to get the clock down because I didn't want to look at it, but she wasn't tall enough to get it down so she just repositioned my bed. Unfortunately, she still left me staring down the clock so it was a long night. They came in and prepped me for surgery that night. I recieived another IV so I had two in my right arm, and they put in catheter which was just generally horrible. In spite of all of this I was okay, because I just wanted to heal, so I had a pretty good attitude throughout all of it.
So time for surgery came and they came and got me. I remember being in the room with all of the doctors and having a breathing tube put down my throat. When I woke up I was in the ICU again, and it was about 4 or 5 PM. I didn't feel too bad after the surgery, but they did tell me that they did not finish everything they had wanted to do and I was going to need another surgery on Tuesday. It was Saturday so I wasn't really looking forward to spending another 3 days in the hospital before the second surgery. But the surgeon explained that my oxygen levels were going down after about 6 hours in surgery so they didn't want to risk another two hours in surgery. What they had done was they had me on my back and they went in through my neck and picked some of the pieces of the broken C5 and basically put in a prosthetic C5. They also put a plate on my neck that connected C4 through C6. The second surgery they would go in on the back of my neck and put in another plate and pick out the rest of the broken C5.
Well this is a pretty long post so I am just going to post it, and I will finish up the rest of it later. Thanks for reading.