Facing a ‘hangman’s fracture’

Victoria Callahan has never climbed the steps to the gallows. She has never had a noose around her neck, but she has been the victim of a “hangman’s fracture,” which paralyzed her from the waist down.


Her ordeal began on April 14, 2020. She had no idea the turn her life would take that day.


She remembers nothing about her Toyota Prius colliding head-on with that semi-truck. What she does remember is that in one moment she was driving, and in the next she was standing up looking at clouds, trying to figure out where she was. Everything was all white and bright.


As she continued to try to make out where she was, she heard a man’s voice saying, “Wake up, wake up.” When she regained consciousness, she realized something was terribly wrong. Her face was stuck to the car’s air bag, but she was able to see blood running down her right arm.


From that point, Victoria moved back and forth, in and out of consciousness. Finally, the fire fighters and paramedics were able to convince her that she had been in an accident. This was confirmed when she realized she was paralyzed from the waist down. The next thing she knew she was in the emergency room of Community Regional Medical Center.


After they took X-rays of Victoria, nurses cleaned her wounds and removed specks of glass from her body. Then, the trauma doctor came in to tell her that her “X-rays were really bad.”


He told her she had sustained a “C2-hangman fracture” and would need surgery right away. He also said that a neurosurgeon had been called in to operate. With that, she was left alone in the ER room.


As Victoria lay there paralyzed from the waist down and attempting to come to grips with her dilemma, something began to happen. In her words, she began to see in her spirit “prayer coming through the walls…the glory of God filled (her) ER room.” A miracle was under way.


At that point, the neurosurgeon and an ER nurse walked into the room wearing isolation gowns and holding a surgery consent form. The doctor introduced himself and gave Victoria the X-ray diagnosis. It confirmed she had sustained a bilateral C2 hangman fracture. He said her injury demanded an immediate operation to stabilize the fracture.


Instead of signing the surgery consent, however, Victoria asked for a phone. The neurosurgeon and the nurse left the room and while waiting for the phone, she began to pray as if she were talking to her best friend.


“Lord Jesus, I don’t know what will happen to me, but I know my life is in your hands. I don’t know if I will ever see my children again. I don’t know if I will walk again. I don’t know if I will live until tomorrow, but Lord, this I know; You are my everything. What do You have to say about my situation? Do I need this surgery? Lord, if you can raise Lazarus from the dead. You can raise me out of this bed.”


Then, Victoria reports, “The Lord Jesus Christ appeared in my room.” As He stood to her left, He put His right hand on her neck and His left hand on her chest. Then she heard the words,


“You don’t need the surgery; I am going to heal you.”


At that point, the nurse entered the room with the phone Victoria had requested. She decided to call a fellow Christian with whom she worked. Without informing him of her encounter with Jesus, she brought him up to speed on her situation. She told him they wanted to perform surgery right away and bluntly asked him, “What does God say to you.”


Her friend paused and prayed. Then he responded, “The Lord said you don’t need the surgery and that He is going to heal you.”


With that confirmation, Victoria made her decision. When the neurosurgeon and nurse returned with the consent form, ready for surgery, Victoria informed them she was declining the surgery. She refused to sign the form. She reassured the doctor that she understood the risk, but was firm in her decision.


With that, Victoria was taken from the emergency room and admitted into the hospital for observation and follow up X-rays, seven hours after her first X-rays, more were taken.


The next morning the neurosurgeon walked into Victoria’s hospital room with the results of the second X-ray. He was incredulous! He called her a miracle and informed her that not only was she alive and breathing, her bones somehow had fused by themselves overnight, and she no longer needed the surgery. And that wasn’t all. She was no longer paralyzed! She could move and had feeling in her extremities!


Within a few days Victoria was home, but God wasn’t through with her yet. He had another miracle to perform. Although her neck fracture had been healed and she was no longer paralyzed, she still had some stiffness, numbness, and radiating pain from her injuries. Those things were taken care of at her church. Her pastor prayed over her, and she was “instantly healed” of all that remained from her accident. She went home weeping for joy and holding on to a verse in the Bible--Philippians 1:6; “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day of Jesus Christ.”


“I’ve witnessed many miracles in my life,” says Victoria, “but I never imagined myself to be on the receiving end. I not only received and witnessed God’s goodness, faithfulness, miracles, and healing, I experienced what it means to be loved by God. This is my Jesus story.”


Note: Victoria is a supervising nurse in a hospital ICU unit.