Jordan Thornquest speaks on Tuesday about his experience of being hit by a car in December. Two operations were required to repair damage to his broken spine.
Jordan Thornquest shows off the back brace he wears in his Twin Falls music studio on Tuesday. Thornquest was hit by a car on December 14 and broke his back. He expects to wear the braces for a few more months.
On a cold December evening, Twin Falls musician Jordan Thornquest was out for a walk with his dog Jess. The 6-year-old Welsh corgi had been restless all day.
Twenty-four-year-old Thornquest and Jess walked down Locust Street to Harmon Park, taking the same route they had walked every night. The sun had set and the persistent light disappeared into the darkness.
Twin Falls musician Jordan Thornquest picks up Jess, his Welsh corgi, on March 20, 2018 before leaving town to attend the Treefort Music Festival in Boise.
DREW NASH, TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
The human-dog duo had felt comfortable with the nocturnal walk, which could easily have ended their life – maybe a little too good.
As they crossed the street in the park, Jess turned into the center of the intersection. A car was approaching so Thornquest tried to wave to the driver.
The next thing he knew he was flying through the air.
“I’ve never felt so much power,” said Thornquest. “It’s the feeling of dull power and the air that is being knocked out of you, but incredibly enlarged. It was more than anything I could experience.
“When I landed, I was standing upright in front of the car,” he said, “and it was probably three feet from my face.”
Thornquest landed on his bum and slid across the ice. His glasses were gone and Jess was nowhere to be seen – not that he could see anything without his glasses.
His first thought was of his dog. Drivers stopped to check on him, and when he heard them talk about the dog walking around the park, he knew Jess was fine.
Next, he tried to assess his injuries as best he could.
“I wiggled my toes and wiggled my fingers and felt my legs,” he said.
Jordan Thornquest tells the story of how his back was broken when he was hit by a car in Twin Falls.
PAT SUTPHIN, TIME NEWS
Jordan Thornquest plays basketball in downtown Boise on March 24, 2018. The Treefort Music Festival hosts a rigsketball tournament in which bands compete against each other on a makeshift place instead of on the stage.
DREW NASH, TIMES NEWS
Thornquest knew he couldn’t get up, so he was lying on the street. The ice helped numb some of the pain in his back.
“People came out and looked after me,” he said. “One of them put a coat on me.”
The adrenaline kept him focused on what to do next.
Thornquest called his roommate and asked if she could pick up the dog. His roommate then called Thornquest’s mother in Boise, who notified his sister.
He called his boss to explain why he would be absent from work for a few days.
“I had to figure out how everything would be done so I could focus on going to the hospital,” he said.
Then there was nothing to do but wait. Thornquest couldn’t move because of the pain. All he could do was look up at the sky and whatever blurry faces came into his field of vision.
He knew he wasn’t paralyzed so he thought the damage caused could probably be repaired. He remembered the experience of being on the ice after the crash as being relatively calm. He knew there were others with him, the paramedics on the way, and whoever needed to be notified had already been called.
“It was very sudden and then very calm,” he said.
The full pain began to be felt when Thornquest was loaded into the ambulance.
“It became clear then that there is no comfortable way to sit when you break your back,” he told the Times News. “Any pain you feel, you will feel anywhere.”
Every position puts a strain on the spine, Thornquest explained. Whether you are standing, sitting or lying down, there is pressure on your back. In the event of a spinal injury, the pain cannot escape as there is no position that will relieve the pressure on the spine.
Thornquest was taken to Magic Valley Medical Center in St. Luke. A doctor assessed his injuries and scheduled him for an x-ray of his sacrum based on Thornquest’s reactions to where the pain was. His sacrum, the bone that connects the spine to the hips, was broken in areas S3 and S4.
The doctor ordered an x-ray of his spine, which revealed compression fractures in the T11 and T12 vertebrae.
“According to the X-rays, the biggest concern was the break in my spine,” he said. “The bone stuck out towards my spinal cord and was a few inches away from it.”
The damage to his back was too severe to be repaired at Twin Falls, so Thornquest was flown to the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Due to the weather conditions, the hospital flew him on an airplane instead of a helicopter.
He remembers being wrapped in a blanket and laid on a soft bed. The doctor gave him morphine for the pain.
“It was the first moment I couldn’t feel anything since I was hit,” he said.
Thornquest was hit at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, December 14th. He spent about four hours in the Twin Falls emergency room. Early the next morning he was flown to Boise, where he waited 18 hours to get a room.
“With the trauma season and COVID-19, the hospital was full,” he said.
The doctors at Saint Alphonsus let him rest for a day, but on December 16 Thorquest was in the operating room for successive surgeries.
“The sacrum surgery – they put a huge metal screw through one side of my sacrum to the other. It took less than an hour, ”he said. “Then the second doctor came in to do the spinal surgery. They put six screws in my back near T12 and T11. That took about six hours of work. “
The next day, Thursday, Thornquest mounted and was fitted out for a back brace.
“I went on Friday,” he said. Then they fired him.
Four days after breaking his spine, Thornquest left the hospital. He’s still wearing a back brace and will continue to do so for a few more months, but his overall recovery has been quick. He cannot lift heavy objects or put weight on his shoulders, and it will be a full year before he can run or jump again as both activities put pressure on the spine.
“All in all, it was the best scenario to be hit by a car as far as my body was concerned,” said Thornquest. But it could easily have ended in his death.
Unfortunately, physical recovery is only part of the problems he now faces.
“When you get into the hospital system in America, it’s all an expense,” he said. “It is a mental burden when you are hit by a car.”
Thornquest’s bill for both hospitals was $ 102,000. That’s more than he’s doing in four years, he said.
Two weeks before he was hit, he signed health insurance, a rescue for his financial situation.
His health insurance cut the bill to about $ 15,000, which Thornquest hopes will be covered by his auto insurance. His biggest frustration is the inability to find out if the driver who hit him had his own insurance.
After calling the police station, lawyers, and automotive department, Thornquest stumbled upon a dead end.
“Because of the gray area of this new computer system, no one is responsible for helping you,” he said. “While the doctors looked after me very well within the system provided, the system just wasn’t ready to help for anything else.”
At this point, Thornquest’s only hope is that his own insurance will zero his bills.
“Cars are huge weapons. If we don’t need them, I’d rather not have them because they’re incredibly dangerous,” he said.
He now needs more time to look in both directions, especially when driving, because he understands how quickly circumstances can change for a pedestrian.
Thornquest’s advice to motorists is simple. Watch out for the road. Be careful with intersections as they are more likely to be crossed by people. Most importantly, slow down. The slower you drive, the less likely you will hit someone – and cause serious injury in the process.
The two move on each night, though Thornquest says he and Jess are much more careful.
“We are even more careful than before about the conditions we take for granted when walking.”
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