When 45-year-old Nanjesh answers the phone, I am pleasantly surprised by how normal his voice sounds for someone, who just a few months ago, had a tree trunk sticking out of his neck. “I still remember it vividly, I was in the car on the way to visit a relative. The driver had swerved on the road and we crashed into a tree,” he says, recounting the horrific accident.
The accident which took place on the outskirts of Bengaluru, left a thick tree branch piercing his neck, entering from one side and exiting through the other. He was rushed to a small hospital in the vicinity where doctors stabilised him after which he was shifted to SPARSH Hospital in Yeshwanthpur.
“It was quite a critical situation. He had been stabilised and brought to us, but the neck space is immensely packed and is full of several crucial structures. We couldn’t even assess the extent of the damage at first,” says Dr Gururaj H, a plastic surgeon at SPARSH Hospital. He was one among a team of doctors who operated on Nanjesh. After initial primary assessment, Nanjesh was shifted to a CT scan, so doctors could determine what structures had been pierced or affected in any manner by the tree branch stuck in his neck.
“Several vessels and nerves that pass through the neck play a major role in supplying blood to the brain and spinal cord. We had to take utmost care not to cause any more damage than was already there,” added the doctor. It was noted that the cranial nerves of the patient were also affected, namely the facial, glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves. The facial nerve plays a huge role in facial expressions, the glossopharyngeal is involved in certain sensory functions while the vagus nerve aids in several functions including regulating heart rate, breathing and even in ensuring that the digestive tract functions properly.
Doctors took him up for a surgery to remove the tree branch, thoroughly cleanse the areas affected and repair any major structural damages. He was then monitored acutely during the postoperative period. A week later, he was discharged, having maintained a good condition. Months of subsequent follow-ups later, he has now healed properly.
“I never thought I’d speak again, but now I am back to normal. I just have to go for one more check-up, but the doctors say that there isn’t anything to worry about now,” says a relieved Nanjesh.