Hey Reddit. I broke my back skiing last year in Switzerland. I'm a L1 Incomplete Paraplegic. I was in the hospital for a month and a half, and I've been rehab ever since. I've noticed a lot of people have misconceptions about paraplegia.


Feel free to ask away, I'm happy to try to answer all the questions that I get !

EDIT: Shameless plug of the sub I created yesterday: http://www.reddit.com/r/spinalcordinjuries/ If we could get that running it would be completely awesome !

EDIT 2: I wasn't expecting this many questions, and I didn't think it would take me this long to answer them. I have to go to rehab right now, but I promise I'll try to answer all that I can, when I can !

EDIT 3: Holy shit so many questions. I'll try to answer some on my phone but i guess i wont be doing anything tonight when I get home. Never mind this isnt working on my phone. Ask away, I'll try to answer you all when I get home.

Comments: 2431 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

Thermoskanne2684 karma

I totally knew I would find you on Reddit one day. I'm the student nurse dude who took care of you for a few days in the Swiss hospital. You seem to cope really well overall with the entire situation, and that makes me very happy. I just wanted to say the team really appreciates the updates they receive from your mom from time to time. I learned a lot from working with you and I still remember discussing video games and cracked.com with you while injecting liquid into your bladder. I hope you continue making progress in dealing with your injury and being an awesome person!

twelveinchtyrone1637 karma

This is so fucking cool man, I know exactly who this is ! I just PM'd you !

scadler315 karma

why do you inject liquid into a bladder, /r/askscience? and what kind of liquid are we talking about here???

twelveinchtyrone607 karma

I just heard about this for the first time. Terrified.

Thermoskanne413 karma

I totally explained it to you when I did it, though. It is just standard saline solution which is injected via the lying catheter. It is done routinely when the catheter is lying for longer than just a few days to prevent the bladder from being empty all the time. In this case, though, we did it because the catheter seemed to have been clogged and we tried to solve it that way.

twelveinchtyrone275 karma

I'm sure you did, I just have no memory of that at all. All I remember is trying to sign up to get the internet to work and I kept of forgetting the passwords to my accounts so I ended up spending a fortune. Good times.

EDIT: I don't remember anything else because I was on methadone at the time. I was high out of my mind.

Mr_Weebles62 karma

^ That dude has seen your dick.

Thermoskanne174 karma

Seen it? I even washed it!

Dashooz87 karma

Don't worry. He didn't feel it.

twelveinchtyrone149 karma

Beat me to it :(

PUPPY_LICKER1417 karma

Can you still jack off?

twelveinchtyrone1827 karma

I can.

Everything works, I just can't feel my actual hand against my dick. It's pretty strange, but I'm extremely thankful, because it is pretty rare. A lot of guys with SCI's can still get it up, though not very long, but it's even more rare to be able to ejaculate.

Some of my orgasms have actually been a lot stronger than before the accident, completely taking over my whole body. It's kind of cool.

I hacen't had sex since the accident (blue balls holy fuck), so I can't speak about that, but jacking off hasn't changed all that much.

_paralyzed_1425 karma

You lucky son of a bitch. I'm a C-5 quad, no jacky offy for me.

twelveinchtyrone1305 karma

I'm really sorry man. Love ya.

shizzler400 karma

I just can't feel my actual hand against my dick.

So it's just like a handjob?

edit: unfortunately realised it's the other way around :(

rupesmanuva1187 karma

Like giving a handjob, I think? He can feel the dick in his hand but not the hand on his dick.

What the fuck am I doing with my life.

twelveinchtyrone825 karma

This made me laugh so much. Describing it as giving somebody else a hj wasn't the first thing that came to mind, but I guess that is exactly it.

I_Nickd_it330 karma

Ok, now i'm curious, if you are jacking yourself off, but cannot feel it, when you come is it like completely by surprise?

twelveinchtyrone461 karma

No strangely I feel it building up. I guess the bit of feeling I have is enough, and the psychological aspect probably plays a big part too.

Wutz_Taterz_Precious144 karma

First year med student here. It indeed seems you are really lucky! There are basically two big sets of nerves that innervate the penis; one of them is responsible for erection (parasympathetic division of nervous system), and the other is responsible for BOTH touch sensation and ejaculation (various branches of the pudendal nerve). So it seems really lucky that you lost touch sensation but can still ejaculate! I have two questions:

  1. Have you taken a fertility test? I ask because the nerves that innervate the scrotum (posterior scrotal nerves) are also a branch of the pudendal nerve and may have been damaged. I'm totally unsure of whether this can lead to infertility, but I'm curious to know.

  2. Can someone with more medical knowledge than I possess tell us how the sensory division of the pudendal nerve could be damaged but the ability to ejaculate remains?

twelveinchtyrone190 karma

I know I'm extremely lucky ! From what I've been told, none of this will lead to infertility.

youareaniceperson1250 karma

Wow you're good looking.

Circumciser_AMA82 karma

I see your only other comment is from an.. interesting sub.

twelveinchtyrone91 karma

Oh dear god.

Dashooz825 karma

Can you give some specifics about your injury while skiing. What happened? When did you realize, "Shit, this is bad."?

twelveinchtyrone1782 karma

This is actually really sad haha. I wish I could tell you I was trying a triple backflip and landed straight on my back, but I didn't. I was also a pretty good skier too, so I can't blame it on that either; to be honest, I have no fucking clue what happened.

This was my first day skiing during the season, and to warm up, I was hitting the little jumps (maybe a meter, so like 3 or 4 feet). I did definitely overshoot it, but you skiers out there know that that is something that happens pretty often. In the air, all I was thinking about was how to minimalize the dammage once I hit the ground, and to land on my skiies. Only part of my brilliant plan worked. I landed on both skiis, but somehow, due maybe to the condition of the snow, and probably because I didn't bend my legs enough, my back just snapped.

My T12 vertabrae broke, but my L1 just completely shattered. This is what was the real problem, as the bone fragments are what damaged my spinal cord.

I realized it was bad the second I hit the ground. I had always wondered what it was like the second you realised you were paralysed (most of the time after having fallen asleep on my arm, or taken a long crap on the toilet). It was obvious the second it happened. Since I didn't fall due to the accident per say, I hit the ground when my legs gave in underneath me. All I could think of was not to move, so as not to fuck up my back even more. I was lucky enough to not pass out, so as to tell the guys who found me exactly what had happened, so they wouldn't move me too much. About 15 minutes after the accident, a chopper landed maybe 5 meters away from me, and shipped me off directly to the best, and not the nearest hospital. If I had passed out and hand't been able to tell them what was up, I would have gone to the nearest place, and they probably wouldn't have been able to do anything for me. I got really luck.

ojchahine62197 karma

Ouch. If there's one thing I remember from my physics class, it's that bending your knees when landing on your feet is very important.

twelveinchtyrone1333 karma

Dont know why people are downvoting you because that is completely true. I was just so concerned with not falling on my face that I didn't anticipate the landing well.

EDIT: letters.

mrzisme186 karma

Is it possible for a greater recovery state than you're in right now? Or are you at a place where its as healed as it can be with current technology?

little0lost105 karma

Not that I can speak to OPs situation, but a friend of mine with a pretty severe traumatic brain injury is still seeing slow improvement nearly six years later. Nerves are much more regenerative than we used to believe.

neurorgasm135 karma

Not to be a party pooper, you should definitely strive toward functional rehab in any nervous injury, but central injuries are really hard to recover from, especially in the spinal cord. The brain does a little better with injury compared to the spinal cord, because the injury essentially forms a 'scar' of astrocytes, debris from apoptosed cells, etc. Depending on the injury it can be easier to go around a scar in the brain because there's physical room as well as flexibility in its organization, meaning even if you have a damaged brain area, its function can be taken on elsewhere. In the spinal cord, its position is its function. Its role is to handle messages at a specific area, so the only way to recover is regrowth, and that's really minimized by a whole cocktail of molecular inhibitors and physical factors.

I'm glad to hear about your friend, though. That must have been a very frightening thing to go through for both of you.

twelveinchtyrone120 karma

Yeah this is pretty much right. The whole thing about nerves repairing themselves at 1 mm a day or whatever only applies to nerves outside of the central nervous system !

crawlerz2468128 karma

I realized it was bad the second I hit the ground.

it's that sound you hear inside yourself. it's unbelievably unsettling

source: had more than a dozen spinal compression fractures in '98-'99 (not due to injury, but severe osteoporosis)

twelveinchtyrone181 karma

Oh yeah, that was fucking terrifying, but what really hit me the hardest, besides the ground, was the fact that I just couldn't feel shit. It was the craziest feeling in the world.

Human718525 karma


twelveinchtyrone2589 karma

I just roll with it.

RabidLeroy467 karma

With regards to support from others during your period of recovery, what was the most memorable one to date?

twelveinchtyrone1063 karma

My mom by far. She has stayed with me for months on end so that I am not alone. She first stayed with me at the hospital, and hasn't left my side since. She rented a house close to the rehab center, so that I have a place to go during the weekends and after my sessions.

My friends and other family were great too, but my mom has been fantastic.

Logon-q179 karma

Is there still risk for further damage? Say if you sit the wrong way etc?

twelveinchtyrone407 karma

Absolutely not. Hypothetically, if I had made a full recovert, I could have gone back to playing rugby for example. Ma back is welded together.

Tux-326 karma



How was switzerland?

twelveinchtyrone1174 karma

Ups and downs.

dydski288 karma

Ski Patroller here. Been patrolling for about 5 years now. My dad was a Patroller for 30 years. He was first on scene of an accident where the kid was paralyzed from the neck down. He attempted a feature in the terrain park and landed on his head. The kid was actually the son of another patroller.

As a patroller we train extensively for spinal chord injuries. C-Spine stabilization is huge. Obviously the protocols are different in Switzerland but how would you rate the care you received on scene?

twelveinchtyrone193 karma

Sorry to hear about your friends kid.

The care I received was amazing. Ofcourse I was able to tell them what was wrong, regardless of the language barrier (I guess "I'M PARALYZED" is universal), and they handled it really well. They first stabalized me, to make sure nothing else was wrong, and immediately called for a helicopter. I was scared I was going to have to be brought down the slopes, but they landed like 15 feet from me. I passed out in the chopper from the pain and morphine, so I don't remember the rest, but the initial reaction was fantastic.

gcook21269 karma

would you ever go back to skiing? i know last year i saw a guy in a wheel chair use some special type of ski rig and it looked pretty awesome

twelveinchtyrone561 karma

I'd actually really like to. My parents and family are terrified, but in my miner, if I had broken my back walking down the sstreet, I wouldn't have stopped going outside. I'm nit planning on it this winter, but it's definitely something I'd consider.

TheMediumPanda1208 karma

Reddit 2015: "Hey Reddit. I'm a guy who's broken his back twice!. Ask me anything."

twelveinchtyrone84 karma


nwsreddit212 karma

Have you tried any wheelchair based sports?

twelveinchtyrone384 karma

I haven't yet. I used to do crew in the offseason to bulk up for rugby, and I actually just ccontacted a club near my rehab center to join up. I'm looking forward to it, since sportsports were a huge part of my life.

poplols123143 karma

have you lost any ability in your body since this happened?

twelveinchtyrone445 karma

Definitely. Since the spinal cord injury was at a T12 - L1 level, everything beneath that level, so basically my belly button is effected. Thankfully, since the damage to my spine was incomplete (meaning that there was no complete cut through my spinal cord, just extensive damage), I have been able to regain movement and feeling to a lot of my legs.

I can feel pretty normally all the way down to my knee caps (everything except my penis). Past me knees, it get pretty weird. I can make out anything heavy placed on my legs (like my bed covers), or stuff like my shoes, but it isn't clear at all.

I've also been able to regain a lot of muslce on my thighs. This is what lets me walk with crutches. I need to wear ankle braces to stabilize my feet, since I can't move my ankles though. Also, my hips and butt muslces are pretty weak, which makes it difficult to walk. However, I can long enough to use my crutches around the house, or to get my wheelchair out of the trunk when I'm driving my car.

Finally, and what is probably the least fun part, is everything revolving around my bladder or colon. I have enough feeling in my bladder to know when, and how badly I have to pee, but I still need to use a catheter. This honeslty isn't the worst part, since it only takes 2 or 3 minutes, and is painless and relatively easy. The annoying part is when I have to go number 2. I can't feel the need to go, so I have to follow a certain schedule (normally around twice a day). All I need is a suppository, since I can still push it all out, but it's by far the most unpractical part, since accident do happen.

atlien0255275 karma

I know this might sound crazy, but I volunteered (in the states) at a place that did "hippotherapy" (horse therapy) for both the mentally and physically disabled. Personally, I noticed the biggest difference in about 6 months with those that had spinal cord injuries--you say that you are especially weak in the hips/butt--this is exactly what horseback riding helped to rehab. Even though you might have difficulty with movement below your T12, getting on a horse a few days a week can do wonders to keeping those muscles somewhat active. I don't know if you were ever big into horseback riding (most guys aren't haha-all of my guy friends play rugby and aren't huge fans of horses) but if you have some sort of "hippotherapy" near you, give them a call. And I think it's always therapeutic to work with animals, anyway....

Regardless, best of luck with your recovery. Sounds like you've got a great group of people around you, and thats more than half the battle.

twelveinchtyrone128 karma

That's crazy ! I actually love horseback riding. A big chunk of my family is in the horse racing business, so I've always been around horses. I'll definitely give this a look ! Thanks !

default_username_121 karma

| everything except my penis.

I'm sorry bro. Is there any chance of a full recovery?

twelveinchtyrone226 karma

I don't think so. It's been a while now, and the bulk of the progress is made in the first 6 to 8 months or so. Not to say I didnt' make any, because I was seriously fucked up, but a full recovery is unlikely.

To reassure you though, I can still get it up, and do what I got to to. It's really strange, all of the good stuff is still there, but I just can't feel my hand around it. No idea how it works.

shinoda8896 karma

So do you rehab in Notwil? And are you from switzerland or did you just made a vacation here?

twelveinchtyrone394 karma

No I live in France, I was in Switzerland for a vacation. It didn't go too well.

Gravy-Leg__51 karma

You wrote you can drive a truck. How is it modified to allow you to drive it?

twelveinchtyrone194 karma

I can operate the accelerator and the brakes from the steering wheel. It's actually very simple, and kind of cool. I feel like a Formula 1 pilot. But I'm not.

cumonshoes40 karma

Has the accident changed your outlook on life? Is it positive or negative?

twelveinchtyrone37 karma

To be completely honest, I've always felt I had to make the most of what was given to me; and that's just what I have to keep on doing. I definitely didn't make it any easier for myself, but I'll do my best.

So unoriginal, I know, but you always think this stuff happens to other people. It doesn't, it happens to you.

2MinutestoBelgium35 karma

Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend? If so, were they with you before the accident, and how has your relationship with them changed. Also, do you find that your friends and family treat you any differently?

twelveinchtyrone16 karma

I do not have a significant other at the moment.

I don't find them treating me differently per se, but I do get offered help a lot.

llSpektrll28 karma

Sorry if this has been asked but, what was the acceptance period like? What concept or thought helped you move forward?

twelveinchtyrone76 karma

It was really really dificult. It went from: 1. Too stoned to know what the fuck was going on (I spent all day complementing the nurses on the cuisine of the hospital I was at) 2. In too much pain to know what the fuck was going on. 3. I got this. 4 I absolutely don't got this. 5. Now

Nothing helped me move forward (besides the support of others of course, and all that fun stuff), I just delt with it, and I still am. Now though, I know this won't stop me from living a good life. Not because there aren't a lot of things that will change; but because I won't let it.


Well there's another thing I won't be doing in my overly-cautious lifetime. I'm really sorry man.

twelveinchtyrone7 karma

Please don't let this stop you from doing things you want to do. Yes, it's terrible. Yes it can happen, but if there is one thing I learned at the hospital I was at, and in rehab. YOU ARE NEVER SAFE. If I followed your logic, I'd never change a lightbulb, or pick apples from a tree, or take a shower. I don't want to come off as an asshole, but you have to take risks in life, especially if you think it's something you can enjoy.

Skiing is amazing, and if you're careful, things like this will probably never happen to you !