Submitted July 28, 2011

Crushed by an ATV

My story took place on November 25, 2007. The shortened version is as follows. I was taking a deer I had harvested up a mountain on an ATV. I did not see a tree under the snow that my uphill tire hit, which caused it to start to tip over. I jumped away from the ATV, but it came on top of me, with me on my knees. The full 800 plus pounds was on my back bending me over and caused a burst compression of my L1 vertebrae and also herniating all the discs below the T12. I was knocked unconscious by a blow to my head by the ATV. When I awoke, I was lying face down in the snow. I could feel a pain like a knife in the middle of my back. As I lay there, I realized how stupid I had been. I had went hunting alone. I had told no one where I was. No one was expecting me to return for 5 days. I decided to try and get up, I did not know how bad it was. I got about 3 inches off the ground and my back muscles, my stomach muscles, muscles down into my hips and legs began to have seizures. The pain was unbelievable. It tried to cause me to breath fast and deep, but I could not because it was like it would try and cut me in half, causing me to seizure more. Realizing I would not make it through the night because of the plummeting temperatures in the night at 8600 feet in late November, I would freeze to death. By morning I would probably be paralyzed. I could move my feet, but had difficulty moving my legs and could not feel them. I had to get up and walk. Trying to crawl was impossible. The ATV was down the mountain and there was no way I could get to it to ride out. Again I tried to stand up, again and again. After 6 attempts I thought it was useless. I really believed that if I stood up I would paralyze myself, because of the intensity of the pain. I decided in my mind to get up on my feet no matter how bad it hurt, as I did not have any choice. I would die there if I did not. I had no idea that my L1 had completely exploded out of my back into the spinal canal and intestines. With all my strength I did get to my feet, but it was as if I was being electrocuted. Walking about 50 yards I collapsed to the ground. I thought I would be paralyzed by the fall, I was not. Again I got to my feet, not able to breath very deep made it impossible to go very far. Again I made it about 50 yards and collapsed. I had a long ways to go to get back to the pickup. I did not know how far, as it turned out it was nearly 3 miles. I got up again, but this time fell immediately. I did this at least 5 times. I was stunned. I did not know what was wrong. Lying there, I really thought it was over and prepared to die by hypothermia. As I laid there for maybe a half an hour I realized that I could not feel my feet or legs very well, which is what was causing me problems in feeling the ground and walking. I got to my feet again, it hurt so bad each time to stand up, but this time I watched my feet. Step after step I watched. Sometimes I would go 50 yards before falling, other times I would lie down before falling. Every time I fell I thought it would be over. How many falls could I endure and not damage my spinal cord, I kept hoping. After about 8 hours of struggling and going into shock I was able to return to my pickup. I drove out for help. When the paramedics saw me they called for life flight because of being in shock and also being a very serious back injury.

At the hospital the neurosurgeon was very concerned when he saw the CAT Scans. The only choice they had was to do an metal implant between my T12 and L2. There was none of the L1 left and the discs above and below the L1 were smashed. As it turned out the surgery was also life threatening and took 8 hours. They were stunned and amazed when they learned I had walked nearly 3 miles without paralyzing myself. I have my problems today, with pain and being unable to do many things I use to do. I feel very lucky however to be able to walk and live some what of a normal life today.

Shayne Young

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