The soft collar provides sufficient bulk around my neck to immobilize it while sleeping.
The sail repair kit had a pad to drive the needle through thick materials.
Soft collar for my neck works!
October 18, 2007 - Day 101 8.7806N,151.9247W
On this first day of my second century(!) alone on the Pacific, I woke up without the dull aching pain in my neck. Ever since the day that I had slept wrong a week ago, the annoying stab of ache on the spine at the root of my neck between my shoulder blades, had remained. The related irritation of the nerve root on the left side of the C7 joint, had done numbers on my muscles, either giving them the wrong commands as: "trapezoid, contract now and stay contracted," or giving me wrong sensations as: "the deltoid muscle on your shoulder is burning." I was on the mend after a few days on anti inflammatories and careful sleeping, but not feeling 100%.
Ever since the exchange with WorldClinic, I was under instructions to fashion a soft collar to brace my neck while sleeping. I had good winds until yesterday, so I took advantage of them, rowing while enduring a somewhat less painful left trapezoid, and sleeping face down.
The supporting column of disks of the spine are in the front. The spinal cord and the radiating nerves are contained in the canals toward the back. While sleeping face down with my chest raised relaxed the spine in the back where the nerves passed, helping me sleep, it did not solve the problem. Small muscles holding the vertebrae together had tightened as a protective reaction to the injury, and were not letting go. When I woke up in the mornings, it was difficult to raise my chin - my neck wanted to stay at the downward angle at which I had slept.
What I really needed was a mild, evenly applied traction, however I was not going to try any medieval contraption in a rocking boat; whatever force that I applied to extend my neck had to remain under control at all times. The soft collar neck brace was a must.
Yesterday a low pressure system started approaching from my east. It was going to pass within a couple degrees to my north, creating some adverse winds for a few days. While on para-anchor, I could tailor a soft collar.
I gathered the necessary sponge from among the trash heap, and set it aside in the cabin to dry. I located the spare wide velcro straps for my foot stretcher, one of which could hold the soft collar in place. I could sacrifice one of my synthetic towels to contain the layers of sponge giving the collar its shape. I had brought along a sail repair kit with me, containing a sturdy needle, plenty of waxed nylon string and most importantly a diveted metal surface, which I could strap in my palm to drive the needle through thick layers of material. I could fix clothing, mattresses, foot straps, even soft collars with this kit!
I wrapped the layers of sponge burrito style with the towel and stitched that on the outside for comfort. Also on the outside, I stitched the velcro strap along the seam of the towel. It was just long enough to go around the bulk of the collar when worn around my neck.
When I wore the collar, I had more material under my chin, which created a mild traction at the right angle, especially when I put my head down on a thin pillow, while laying on my back. It was perfect. I slept on my back most of the time, with my head's motion now in synch with my torso as the boat rocked. I no longer had them going in opposite ways, creating shearing and jarring movements on my sensitive cervical spine. I woke up relaxed and free of pain, justifying wearing the collar the rest of the way while sleeping to avoid recurrence of similar problems.
We will look for a more permanent solution when I reach land, or when the expedition allows.