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The Broken Neck Halo Story: God is Faithful
 
Broken Neck Story and Halo Tips

 
Broken Neck Story
Table of Contents

  
 

Halo Vest Tips

 

 
 
Breaking My Neck and Living to Tell About it!
 
A SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE

My HalovestSeptember 5th, 1999, will be a day that I will always remember as a turning point in my life. That was the day that God gave me a second chance. This time He didn't save me from sin, or sorrow. This time He physically saved my life. 

You see, that was the day that I broke my neck...

1 CORINTHIANS 1:9
GOD, WHO HAS CALLED YOU INTO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, IS FAITHFUL.”

God doesn't make bad things happen to good people, but he does bring blessings from bad situations. More often than not, change starts with a challenge. Whether the challenge is physical, emotional, or spiritual, unless you are challenged in some way, you are most likely going to stay the same. 

Some people ask:
‘Why does God allow people to get Cancer?’, 
‘Why does God allow people to get hurt, even permanently injured?’, 
‘Where is God when I feel so alone?’

The answer is God's right by your side, helping you every step of the way whether you know it or not. God doesn't stop bad things from happening because then he would be taking away from our freedom to choose. He still allows us to make our own choices, and suffer our own consequences, but stays with us through it all. Whether it be cancer, paralysis, emotional strain, or something else totally unexpected, these situations that we are forced to deal with at certain times in our life cause us to slow down. They cause us to take a good, long, hard look at where we are headed, and reevaluate our direction in life.

The STORY

After just recently going through a very difficult time in my life after breaking my neck, I now realize that it is so much of a blessing not only to me, but the people around me. Whether it was the emergency personnel rescuing me from the backcountry after I tumbled off a 30 foot cliff on my mountain bike, or the doctors in the hospital after I arrived, they all noticed something I had that other patients didn't… peace. 

Philippians 4:7
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Christ is not only love and truth, but also peace. I was at peace with the whole situation, even after I saw the x-ray of C2 in my neck broken in half. I was at peace when they said that surgery would need to be done to correct my neck. I was even at peace just after the injury took place, knowing full well that I could be a quadriplegic for life, if I didn't die first.

Praise the Lord I'm still alive, let alone able to walk! It looks like he still has some work left to do with me yet. The doctors in emergency said that they don't often see people alive after getting a “hangman's fracture”, let alone walking out of the hospital 9 days after it happens. 

The DREAM

This story doesn't start on Powderface Trail in Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada however, it starts two weeks earlier in a dream. 

Now you have to understand… I wasn't really ever one to believe that I could have “visions”, or see into the future, so what I'm about to tell you still sounds strange even to me. The night of August 18, 1999, I had one of the most vivid dreams that I actually remembered after waking up. 

The dream started off with me in the forest lying on my back. I got the impression that something really awful had just happened and I had to stay very still. There were people gathered around me and I asked them to pray with me. We asked the Lord's blessing on the whole situation. 

A flash occurred.

The next thing I remember was me looking up seeing the bottom of a helicopter, being suspended from it with a 50 foot rope. I remember thinking in the dream, ‘Gosh, this is my first helicopter ride and I don't even get to enjoy it!’ I also remember there being a photographer around that was taking pictures of everything. 

Another flash occurred.

The next thing I know I'm riding in an ambulance. 

Flash.

Now I'm in the emergency ward of a hospital. 

Flash.

I'm being slowly backed into a creamy white tube with a red light whizzing circularly around my head. 

Flash Again!

The final sequence showed me an x-ray with C3 and C5 in my neck being the focus. I was very adamant in the dream that the doctors check C5 to make sure that it wasn't damaged.

The next thing I know, a voice, which I know to be the voice of the Lord, spoke to me with a few key statements. He said, 

“All these things must come to pass, but I will be with you through it all. There will be the right people in the right place at the right time.” The final underlying statement was, “You will fully recover.

The following morning I awoke rather disturbed by the dream, but passed it off as just that, a dream. 

Two weeks came and went, and I was once again reminded of the dream. My thought at the time was, “Well, it hasn't happened yet, so I guess it's not going to happen.” 

Little did I know what God was preparing me for!

The ACCIDENT

Powderface Trail SignIt was the long weekend on Sunday, September 5, 1999. Me and two other friends decided to go mountain biking on Powderface Trail in the foothills 60kms west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I consider myself a moderate rider with quite a bit of experience in the type of terrain that we were to tackle that day. We decided to only take the small loop (6.8kms), and started off at about 1:30pm that afternoon.

The sun poked through the clouds on occasion, but for the most part it was a perfect day to be mountain biking. The brisk, mountain air rushed past as we started out on the trail, enjoying what was probably going to be the last mountain bike ride of the season before the snow hit. 

Two other friends and myself were making good time, and were on the way back to the car with only 1.5kms remaining on the trail. It had been uphill most of the way there, so we had started to take on some of the downhill. 

Rock in the PathThe single track was fairly wide, with rapidly rising terrain to the left, and a drop off to the right. I was being cautious as we descended around a slight curve to the left. There was a rock sticking up in the middle of the path, so I decided to go around it to the right. My tire must have hit another rock or something, because before I knew it, I was skidding off the pathway and over the hill. Attempting with all my might to correct only made matters worse as I tumbled down the 45 degree incline. 

After that I blacked out.

One of my friends riding just behind me related the rest of the story 2 weeks after the event. When I tried to ditch the bike and not go down the hill, the bike hit something in the woods, and I was sent catapulting back first over a 30 foot cliff. 

View of the Cliff I went over“Everything happened in slow motion,” my friend grimaced, recalling in agony what happened after that. “I didn't see how you landed after you went over the cliff, but I did manage to rush down and find you at the bottom of the gully. It must have been 50 feet before you rolled to a stop.”

My scraped up glasses had snapped in half, protecting my eyes from damage, but the rest of me wasn't so fortunate.

Holding my neck at the bottom of the cliffI vaguely remember sitting on a rock holding my neck with excruciating pain resonating throughout my body. Since I still had color in my face and was coherent at the time, my friend and I walked back out to the pathway. I vaguely remember holding my neck with both hands and keeping it straight as we walked, because I knew that something was terribly wrong. 

Once we made it back out to the path, a registered nurse just happened to be hiking in the opposite direction. She instructed me to lie down and kept my neck as still as possible. Within a period of about 5 minutes, God brought along a doctor and two other nurses (4 medical personnel in total). As I later found out, the husband of one of the nurses was the doctor that later treated me in emergency.

I don't remember doing this, but when everybody was gathered around me, in amongst the chaos and repeating myself several times from the concussion on the back of my head, I told everybody that I had seen this in a dream before. I said that in the dream, we prayed. 

Some of the people laughed, but my friends knew that I meant what I said, so we prayed. Nine people came by with cell phones, but none of them worked from the remote area where we were. It wasn't until somebody with an Emergency Medical Phone came along were we able to call for help. The Park Ranger came in soon after that with an immobilization board. Since another ATV accident had just occurred nearby, I was second in line to be air lifted out.

Airlift captured by the newspaper photographerIt took 4 hours before the helicopter arrived, but it only seemed like a couple of minutes to me. I was delirious, repeating myself every couple of minutes. All that I remember from that entire time I was laying on the path was looking up and seeing a worried look on one of my friends’ faces.

The next thing that I can remember is looking up and seeing a helicopter in motion, dangling below it from a 100 foot rope. My head was strapped down tight to the immobilization board with a collar protecting my neck. I tried to look side to side using just my eyes, but all I could see was air. "It's happening," I thought, "The dream is happening!" After that, I blacked out again. 

From what I heard later, I kept repeating something over and over to the rescue worker. He couldn't hear what I was saying until after they landed since the helicopter was making so much noise. What he finally heard me say was,

“It's OK. I’ll be alright.”

They managed to airlift me to a nearby parking lot, and an Ambulance took me into Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada from there. I remember part of the ride, but my memory is still rather vague. From what the EMT person later told me, I was reassuring him that everything would be all right. 

Isn't that backwards? 
Isn't he supposed to be reassuring me? 

God already had reassured me, so I knew that I would be all right… without a doubt. He didn't leave any doubts in my mind as to the events that were taking place, and what was to come.

After making it to the hospital, the doctors immediately ordered a CAT scan, MRIs and x-rays to be done for analysis. I opened my eyes for about 2 seconds as I was going into the CAT scan machine with a red light rotating around my head. I didn't realize what the machine was in my dream, but I knew what it was in real life.

I fully regained consciousness at about 9pm that evening, in the emergency ward of the hospital. A barrage of doctors and nurses came by doing test after test, and taking samples as well as sticking an IV into my left arm. They kept asking, “Can you move your feet?” and “Do you feel this?” 

You'd think that I would be in a state of shock, anxiety, and fear, but that was the furthest thing from the truth.

Hangman's FractureI had such a sense of overwhelming peace, that I don't know how to describe it. As I lay on an immobilization board with a neck collar on, looking at the x-ray of my hangman's fracture, not knowing if I would ever be able to fully walk again (let alone play basketball or fly an airplane), Jesus gave me His peace. I had complete reassurance from Jesus that He was looking after me, and that He would bring me through this life challenging situation.

With my parents by my bedside, I started to sing:

“Even youths grow tired and weary. 
Young men stumble and fall (they fall).
But those who wait on the Lord, 
  will renew their strength.
They will mount with wings, like eagles.
They will run and not, not grow weary.
They will walk and not, not grow faint.

Do you not know, have you not heard, 
  the Lord is the everlasting God.
The creator of, heaven and earth, 
  He will not grow tired or weary.
And His understanding, no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary, 
  and increases the power of the weak.

I will run, and I will walk. 
I will soar on wings like eagles!”

Tears streaming down my cheeks, I sang this song again and again. Being a pilot, it has an added emotional response since I too “soar on wings like eagles”.

Would I ever get to fly again? 
God holds the answer to all questions.

The GOOD NEWS

One of the doctors in emergency (who was the husband of the nurse on the trail), amidst the chaos offhandedly remarked “We don't see many people alive after this type of injury, let alone those who retain full motor control in both their arms and legs.”

This may have seemed brash to those around me, but it was the truth. Here I was, a 21-year-old man, in the midst of physical, emotional, and spiritual despair and God saved me from it. Why he chose to spare me, I’ll only get to ask Him in heaven. But I do know one thing, He spared me so that I could serve Him.

I remembered about C3 and C5 from my dream, so I asked the doctors to take a close look at those vertebrae. 

“There's nothing wrong with them” stated the radiologist on duty. 

Praise the Lord! That is the only part of the dream that did not come true... but Jesus never lies, so what did He mean? He answered a few days later.

Streams of friends and family came to see me that night at the hospital. Their support and prayers were definitely heard by God, and he answered them in a big way. After praying with various people, and speaking with several different doctors, the decision was made to put me in a “Halo”. No, they weren't going to pull the plug and send me up to heaven so I could have one, rather attach a metal halo to my head. 

Halovest - FrontThe halo helps to keep the neck straight and fully extended, allowing for healing to occur. The orthodic specialist was called in, who just so happened to be a biomechanical engineer and a Christian! He drilled into my skull 4 separate screws to hold the halo in place. 

“You're going to hear a loud snap” he proclaimed using his screwdriver to fasten the bolts into my head. 

SNAP! SNAP!

Halovest - BackIt's amazing how loud things seem when they are directly attached to your skull. 

SNAP! SNAP!

“How do you feel?” he inquired, knowing what the answer was going to be before he even asked the question.

“Like my head is in a vice!” I announced in agony, still trying to regain my composure after having my skull compressed by this monolithic torture device. 

Soon thereafter, they placed me in traction to try and let my neck heal on its own. The thought was, if they could stretch my neck out enough, maybe it would go back into place on its own. This was done over a period of 2 days, with limited success. It started to move back on its own, but when they got me walking again, it slipped out of position. Five days later, the decision was made to go ahead and do surgery. 

The surgeon was one of the best in Canada. When he came into my hospital room to discuss the surgery, God revealed why he showed me C3 and C5 in my dream. I heard him say, "I usually specialize in C3 to C5, but I've done about thirty C2 surgeries." God was actually telling me the person who was going to do the surgery, not which vertebrae would be broken. Praise You Lord!

Leading up to this time, there were many people praying for my recovery. A lot of people who I hadn't seen in a long time visited me in the hospital, including some friends from high school. Pastors from various churches, as well as my sister from San Francisco came to see me. It is truly amazing to see God's family at work when ‘tragedy’ strikes. It is also truly amazing to see Him work in others, and help them to re-evaluate their lives because of what happened to me. I saw the Lord at work in everybody that I had a chance to talk with, and I know they saw Him at work in me.

The SURGERY

The following Saturday I went in for surgery. With my family and friends present, we had a prayer session to ask the Lord's blessing on what was about to take place. I also did something that is apparently uncommon before surgery.

Right after I was wheeled into the surgery room, and before the anesthetist administered his sleeping potion, I asked if we could all pray over the surgery. 

“We don't usually do this… but sure!” replied the doctor. 

Holding hands around the operating table, I lifted up my voice. 

“Lord Jesus, I pray that you guide the doctors and work through them for your glory. I pray that your will be done, and that you are present throughout the entire procedure. Please bless these people as they work to heal your craftsmanship. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Immediately following the prayer, the peace of the Lord calmed my anxious heart, and relaxed me beyond what I was humanly capable of doing on my own. 

I then had the distinct pleasure of gargling Novocain to numb my throat and trachea before they inserted a tube into my lungs for the tracheotomy. After ascertaining that I could still move my feet and hands while on artificial breathing, they knocked me out.

4 hours pass. 

The RECOVERY

I awoke in the recovery room with a wretched taste in my mouth. Welcome to the wonderful world of anesthetics. Groggy and not able to talk because my mouth was still frozen, I tried to ask the nurse “How dod everyfing go?” 

My Neck XRAY After Surgery - Click to see the transformation“The doctor said that is was 99% perfect.” She informed me.

Praise you Lord! That was music to my ears! I was later able to acquire a copy of the x-ray with the newly reinforced titanium plate that now held together C2 and C3 in my neck. The surgical team also took the disc out from in-between those two vertebrae and replaced it with a bone graft from my hip. This allows my neck to fuse together over time, and only decreases mobility by 5%. (Click on the picture to see an MPEG movie of the transformation from surgery.)

I was walking the day after surgery, and was out of the hospital in 2 days. The following weekend I visited 2 churches that I attend to thank them for their prayers and support through this time. I also wanted to show them that God hears their prayers, and answers. It was a little painful physically to go to those church services, but it was well worth it. 

I can't even begin to put into words the emotion that I felt singing to the Lord that weekend. He spared my soul, my mind, and my body. I didn't do anything to deserve it, but accept Him as my Lord and Savior.

So many times I find myself thinking that I have to earn His love. Then I remember there is nothing I could ever do to win my way into the heart of a powerful and holy God. All I have to do is Believe in His son, Jesus Christ. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins so that I could be forgiven as a sinner. Believe that through Jesus, I could be seen as holy in the sight of God.

The AFTERMATH

Never has God's Love been clearer to me than during these challenging times. As I looked out of my hospital room window one clear Fall night, I gazed across the pastel pink sunset sky, foothills in the foreground, and snow capped glistening mountain peaks as the backdrop. 

For just a fleeting moment I understood His plan not only for my life, but for all of humanity. I understood how massive and awesome God truly is. I also realized how short our time is on Earth, and how precious our time here really is.

I'm not completely sure why it takes such a slap in the face for me to genuinely appreciate life, but I do know that there has been so many blessings that have come from this incident, I can't even begin to count them. 

I also know that I will fully recover in God's time, and that I will be made whole to serve Him and advance His kingdom on earth. He usually just tells me the next step to take, and which direction to head in, but never tells me the end destination… until now.

When God blessed me with that dream, he was shining a floodlight on what was going to happen in my life. He laid it all on the line, and then told me that I would fully recover from what was about to happen. If the Lord didn't want me to have this injury, He could have easily shown me a mountain bike in my dream. That would have prevented me from going mountain biking in the first place.

But he decided not to do that. Why? Because the decisions that we make, and choices we choose determine how we live our life. Since He wasn't about to short-circuit my freedom of choice, he allowed these events to run their course. But he also had a plan and let me in on how he would bless this situation to impact not only my life, but also the lives of those around me.

People around me grew in their faith leaps and bounds when they saw how Jesus was working in me and through me. I also grew in my understanding of the almighty as he carried me through the injury, surgery, and recovery. But none of this growth would have happened unless the accident first took place. 

Sometimes the most precious gifts God can ever give makes our bodies ache, and our hands bleed when we open them.

If you get anything out of me telling you this story, please listen to this: God is a God of love. He is a God of second chances. If you put your trust in Jesus, he will never let you down. No matter how scared you might be giving it all over to Him, and trusting your life in His hands, you will never regret it if you make that decision. I challenge you to make that life transforming decision today. 

Surrender. 

Let the walls down between you and Jesus. Admit that you can't do it on your own and let Him take full control over your life. Confess your sins to Him and repent. Become a new creation in Christ and consecrate yourself to living for Him and not for your own selfish desires. Get to know Jesus personally, intimately.

Make a decision for Christ, not only for the short time that you are on this earth, but for eternity. Plan for the future by planning with Christ. He is the ultimate life planner and friend. Your relationship with Him is one that will never fail as long as you humble yourself and obey His prompting. He is the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords! When you put your trust in Him, He will never let you down. God is Faithful.
 

FREE AT LAST

Tuesday, December 07, 1999 - The Halovest Comes Off.

I will never forget that day that the Halovest came off. What a weight off my shoulders! One thing that I won't miss is the strange looks, and also the questions: 

Q. "How do you sleep?"
A. "Like a baby - I sleep for an hour, cry for an hour..."

Q. "How do you get your shirt on?"
A. "Magic."

This was definitely a spiritual marker in my life, and as such, I sat down and wrote a letter to God. The picture below is of my mother and I three days after I got the halo off. You will notice that the pin holes on the front of my head healed up very quickly - Praise the Lord! Both the pin holes and the scar on my neck will take time to fully heal, but the Lord did promise me a FULL recovery, and that is exactly what I am claiming. Here is the letter to God that I wrote:

Heavenly Father,

Home at Christmas, 3 days after getting my halo offHere I stand on the edge of tomorrow, and how sweet it is. Less than 4 hours ago, I was in bondage to a halovest, but now I sit here, in your glory... FREE. Free from all physical and spiritual hindrances that hold me back from being all that you created me to be. Before September 5th, I felt like there was a huge burden holding me back, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Not only did you break me (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), but you also set me free, only after you showed me your truth (John 8:32). 

So here I am, a man that is devoted to you, and doing your will. A man that is so very grateful for bringing me through the depths of despair to the mountain peaks. But I've leaned that it is in the depths that I grow the most in you. I'm grateful and blessed for my physical health to be restored by you, almighty Father. It is amazing to simply be able to turn my head just a little, to hold a phone up to my ear, to scratch my back, to give somebody a hug, to get into a car without bumping my head, to stretch my neck, to eat without a bib, to not be looked at like a freak, to be me again.

On the way home, after getting the halo removed, tears of joy and gratitude simply started flowing down my face. I started to sing:

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
The Lord Reigns
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia
The Lord Almighty Reigns

He has shown his awesome power,
He has triumphed mightily,
He’s the victor over darkness and the grave.
He has broken chains that bounds us,
He has set the prisoner Free,
By His own great mercy, we are Saved!

Praise you Lord God for restoring my life, and blessing me with your promise of a full recovery. Praise you Jesus for being a friend, closer than a brother. Thank you Holy Spirit and the angels for keeping my soul and spirit uplifted during this time. And thank you Lord that I can now bow my head when I pray, and give you all the glory, honor and power that you so rightfully deserve. Even now as I write this, tears of thanksgiving roll down my cheek. 

Father, Thank you cannot even start to describe the gratitude that I have right now. I pray that you always help me to remember this as a starting point in my service to you. Keep the blessings coming, and grant me the wisdom of how I can effectively let the overflow of you in my life pour out into the lives of others.

Thank you for this time of refining Lord. Now it is time to share you with the world. In Jesus powerful name I pray. Amen, and Amen.

Electrical Engineering GraduationIt is now over 6 years later, and I have fully recovered just like God promised. I finished Electrical Engineering at the University of Calgary, and I am now an airline pilot in the United States. Praise God for blessing me, and you, so richly.

If this has impacted you in any way, please let me know. I would love to hear from you! Write to me at: CEO@Halozone.com.

God loves you,

Ryan Roberts

President/CEO
Halozone Enterprises
CEO@Halozone.Com
 

  
 
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Saturday, November 18, 2017