(New info has proven that this story is
bogus so please consider it as fictional!!)
A true story from a real Halo user!!
Below you will find a series of questions from Bink to Shannon, a young woman who is currently wearing a HALO Brace after being injured in an accident.
Many thanks to Shannon for letting us interview her about the most difficult experience she has been through in her life. We are very appreciative.
Hello Shannon, let me first start off by again saying thanks very much for granting us this interview, it is appreciated. Please use as many or as little words as possible to best answer the questions below. If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the questions, please do not feel obligated to answer.
How did you injure your neck?
I was injured in a car accident. I was coming home from seeing a late movie with my roommate and it had just started raining so the road had suddenly become very slick. We were stopped at a light and were rear ended. The head rest was far too low causing my head and neck to hit it and snap over top of it.
What type of injury did you sustain?
I fractured my C-2 and bruised my C-4 and C-5.
How long ago did you have your accident?
The accident was on May 11th at around 11:30 pm.
How old are you?
I am 25.
Were you in the hospital after your accident?
I was taken to the ER right away and was in the hospital till late Thursday afternoon.
When did you find out you would have to be in a HALO Brace?
Early Tuesday morning. After all the tests, X-rays and CAT Scans the doctor on the ER came and told me I had broken my C-2 vertebra and would have to be examined by the neurosurgeon in the morning. Around 6:30 am the neuro came and said I would not require surgery if traction could get the bones back into alignment. After I would be placed in a halo brace for 10 to 14 weeks to allow the bone time to heal.
At the time you were told you would have to be in a HALO Brace, did you know what a HALO was?
When I heard the doctor say halo brace at first it I had no idea what he meant. It wasn’t till about a half hour later that I remembered reading an article in Sports Illustrated about a college basketball player from Ohio State who had broken his neck and was in a halo brace. I remembered a picture of him in the brace and that was when I started to worry.
Had you ever seen a HALO Brace or known anyone who had to wear one?
Never. I had only seen pictures of them. The first time I ever saw one in person was when they brought it in to apply it to me.
Where was the HALO Braced fitted and applied to you: hospital, doctors office?
The halo was put on just after I was take from the ER to my own hospital room.
How long do you have to be in the HALO?
The original estimate was 10 to 14 weeks but it will end up being around 17 weeks.
Do you know what type of brace, if any, they will put you in after the HALO is removed?
That depends on how the neck is when the halo brace comes off, how strong the muscles are and motion at the fracture site.
How long will you have to be in that brace?
It should be around 8 weeks but again that depends on how well the neck recovers.
What did the HALO Brace feel like while it was being put on?
To answer that I will take you through the process of having it put on.
Before the brace was put on I was given a shot about 45 minutes before hand to take the “edge off”. Measurement for the halo ring and vest were taken before hand. Two small patches of hair were shaved just a little above and behind my ears in preparation for the pins and then the doctors arrived to apply the brace. The halo ring was placed over my head and held in place by a pin with a small suction cup that threads through the ring into the middle of the forehead. The pins sites are then marked and I was give four shots of xylocane, a local anesthetic, at those sites to numb them. Next the pins are threaded through the ring until they are just touching the skin. Then the doctors take two torque screwdrivers and simply start screwing the pins in. Two at a time the front right with the back left then the front left and back right. To say that it hurt a little is an understatement!! Imagine the force it takes to screw a screw into a hard piece of wood, they were doing this to my skull. It was the most intense pain imaginable I was begging them to stop. The drugs didn’t help as much as would have liked. Finally it was over and the ring was in place. The vest wasn’t put till a day later. At this time weights were attached via cables to apply traction to the bones of my neck. When the time did come for the vest to be applied the neck brace I had was taken off and I was carefully rolled onto my side and the bottom half of the brace was moved into place. I was then rolled back onto my back and the front part of the vest was put on and attached to the back half and tightened. It was so tight I didn’t think it would be possible to breath. Then the uprights were attached to the halo ring and vest and I was now locked into place.
What did it feel like after it was in place?
I didn’t come up with this explanation but it felt like I was a turtle stuck on its back unable to roll over or even move. I had to breath a little shallow because of the vest and the pins were causing a lot of pain.
Is the HALO Section of the brace attached to a vest or body jacket?
The body part of the brace is a plastic vest that is lined with synthetic sheep skin. Kinda like a small suit of armor.
Are you in a full vest/body jacket that covers your breasts or is the vest more of a “I” shape, going between your breasts?
No the vest doesn’t cover my breasts. The I shape is a good description.
What is the most uncomfortable part of the brace?
I would have to say the most uncomfortable part is the constant pressure of the pins. It isn’t painful but there is a constant feeling of pressure. It is a little worse when I am lying down.
What part (if any) is the most comfortable?
That’s a tough one. Although the brace is tolerable I wouldn’t call it comfortable. The one plus is that unlike other braces there is nothing pressing on my chin or jaw.
Do you wear a T-shirt or a bra under the HALO Vest?
On most occasions I do wear a shirt under the vest. What you have to do is cut the shirt all the way up the back or side which allows me to feed it under the vest then pull it together in the back. This helps limit the itching of the vest liner. As for the bra, I wear a sports bra because I find it more comfortable to wear under the vest.
If so, how often do you change them?
LOL As often as I normally would. Everyday and when it was hot I would even change the shirt more often. You do tend to get hot and sweat under the vest.
What do you normally wear over the HALO Brace?
Large sweat shirts, pullovers or jackets. What I did to a couple of old sweat shirts was make a cut where the uprights are so I could wear it normally. This allows the sweat shirt not to stretch at the neck and I used velcro to close the cuts around the bars.
How do you bath in the HALO Brace?
Are you allowed to get it wet?
You really don’t because I can’t get the liner wet or the pin sites. Getting the pin sites wet can lead to infection. So I do a few things to wash. Sponge bath my body except under the vest. Sit in a shallow bath to wash my lower body. And to get under the vest have my roommate to thread a damp towel under the vest to wash my body. Yes it must stink a little there!
Do you have someone who helps you with your day to day routine?
My roommate Jenn has been a rock since the accident. It was her car that was hit in the accident and was a write off. So I let her use mine and she drives me around when I need it and help with all the little things like washing and cleaning the pin sites. My boyfriend was away working for most of the summer but when he was back in town he also helped out.
How do you sleep in the HALO Brace?
Well I really don’t. That is the worst thing about wearing a halo brace, you can never seem to sleep for an entire night. I usually get four hours max and take naps through the day when possible. The easiest way for me to sleep is in a regular bed. I use lots of pillows to support my upper body and lay flat on my back. I will place a small pillow or a rolled up a towel and place it under my neck wedged between my neck and the bars. It help to keep my head from feeling like it is floating. I think part of the problem with sleeping is your head isn’t resting on a pillow and I have never slept on my back. In the mornings sometimes I feel pain where the back pins are from supporting my head. I can even feel very small indents in my skull around the pins.
How many times a month do you go to your Doctor for progress checks?
I went a week after being released from the hospital, then once a month. In
August I was having numbness in my right hand and went in to see him. It
was discovered that one of the bones in my neck had slipped out of place and
that was causing he numbness. So Adjustments were made to help manipulate
the bone back into place. So I was going about every week then,
Have they ever had to adjust your HALO Brace?
Yes, mostly it is just tightening pins. One of the back pins was becoming loose so often it had to be replaced. That was no fun! Adjustments were made to the position of my neck by making adjustments to the uprights and there position in relation to the halo ring.
Do you go out in public much?
At first no! But I was getting real board and stir crazy staying indoors so I did venture out. Now I go out all the time.
What has been the response of people when you are out in public?
When I walk around so many people stare it makes me feel like I’m naked. Most people just look then look away. If I’m not moving some people will ask what happened. I don’t mind that, most people are just curious as halos aren’t to common. If I was in there position I would be a little curious to. What I do hate is people saying things after I walk by as if the problem is with my hearing.
What happens when you stare back at them?
I don’t stare back as if to say “What the hell are you looking at”. I usually just give a little smile as if to say I’m all right. It puts them at ease and also makes me feel better. I couldn’t handle being bitter or mean when people stare.
Do you find men or women give you more attention than normal?
Never really thought of that. I think the answer is KIDS. Actually I think the looks are even but guys tend to look longer.
What is the funniest thing anyone has said to you about your HALO?
“Mommy, look it’s a Martian.” That was also the most original. I get antenna, lightning rod, do you get all the radio stations and pin cushion all the time.
What is the meanest thing anyone has said to you about your HALO?
No one has really said anything mean directly to me that I know of. Sometimes I do hear people laughing after I pass them and I bet they are making some kind of joke. I try not to let it get to me.
Describe a typical day in the life of Shannon while in the HALO?
I was not in school over the summer and didn’t work at all, so I had tons of free time on my hands.
I would wake up and eat breakfast with Jenn then we would both go for a walk for about a half hour. We live in a school dorm so in the afternoons we would visit friends or they would come over to out place. If not I would surf the web and chat with friends and do my mail. We watch lots of movies and I read a lot also. Jenn works mostly evenings so I would either watch TV go to a friends, or chat on the net or go for another walk. You are a little bit limited in the activities you can do.
How did you find NBAK?
I was looking for information on halo braces and when you type “halo brace” into any search engine the site will come up.
What was your first reaction when you found out what NBAK was?
“What the FUCK!!!” LOL
Were you offended by our web site?
I wasn’t really offended, just shocked. The idea is really hard to swallow at first especially when your in a halo brace.
If you were offended, do you still find NBAK offensive?
I wasn’t offended but I do look at it differently now. I realize that it is a harmless activity and my curiosity led me to find out a little bit about why the attraction. As I said I have lots of time on my hands. Some people explained there fascination/attraction and I still chat with some of them.
How often do you visit NBAK?
I look in every couple of weeks or so. I will look at the message board as I did post there once. And I do find the comments of one poster in particular quite funny.
Will you continue to follow the site after you are completely recovered and brace free?
Actually I think I might from time to time for the memories. LOL!
Is there anything you like about the HALO Brace?
Yes. It kept my neck immobile allowing it to heal and avoiding surgery. In looking for information I read how I would have been treated in the past and am thankful to have the halo over long periods of traction or a cast.
Do you thing you would ever wear a HALO or any other type of brace for fun or because of the way it restricts body movement?
I am planning on keeping the halo brace as a trophy. And I can see myself slipping the brace on once and a while, but only for a short time. We plan on letting all my friends try it on when it comes off to see what I had to live through. Were going to put corks over the pins.
Can you understand why NBAK fans like to wear Neck Braces and/or why they are attracted to people who do?
I do now. I have spent a little time in the #castroom chatting with people and I see there attraction now.
Is there anything you would like to say to NBAK fans around the world?
You may think it would be nice to see what a halo brace would be like to wear. Just don’t do it for real!! LOL Having pins inserted in your head isn’t all that fun. And the fact that I wear it 24/7 for 4 months is tough.
Sorry for all the questions but they are questions all of us have and we appreciate you taking the time to share with us what everyone knows must be a very difficult time in your life.
No problem. I don’t mind at all. It feels kinda good to talk about it instead of keeping my feeling inside.
In closing, let me say again that our charter is not to offend, insult or poke fun at ANYONE, especially someone who has acutely been hurt, like yourself. We never wish any harm, illness or pain on anyone. Some people are turned on by high heel shoes, a sexy piece of lingerie, S&M, Victorian corsets, blindfolds, leg casts, etc. You name it and you can probably find an individual or a group that is attracted to it.
For us it is more about the brace itself, for some it’s the complexity of a HALO Brace, a plastic body jacket fitted with a full cervical extension or a Milwaukee Brace, for others it could be as simple as a soft collar. What ever type of brace it may be, NBAK fans are excited about he way it looks, the way it restricts movement, the way it feels on the body or the way others react to it in a public place. Call it a “Brace Fetish”, call it “Medical Bondage” or call it just plain “Bizarre”, whatever you classify it as, it is what make us all unique.
Thanks again for answering all our questions and sharing a difficult part of your life with us. All of us here at NBAK wish you a healthy and speedy recovery.
Thank you Bink! I appreciate your concern.