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Old 01-16-2007, 10:47 PM   #1
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Pre-op jitters

Hi,
I'm new here, thanks to my husband for finding it. I've been reading the spinal cord disorder board for most of the week and have found some very useful information. I was diagnosed with two herniated disks that are starting to push into my spinal cord and causing great pain/numbing/discomfort. I have had symptoms for years but have always been able to disregard them & relate them to some other problem. I'm sure this problem is due to my three whiplashes dating back to 1978, the last being in '92.

My surgeon tells me that I will have an ACDF on c-5 through c-7, using donor bone. I have an appointment with him tomorrow when he will hopefully tell me when my surgery is. We had to postpone it because my last MRI showed sinusitis and he sent me to my PCP to get on cipro. I took that nearly 2 weeks & I believe no germ could live in this body but have sprayed lysol around my family upon entering after being out in the germ filled world. However, I have been sniffling. I thought maybe it's allergies since it's such a strange winter here in NY, took some allergy spray & felt so much better. So, I am now assuming I didn't have a cold but allergies, (as many up here are currently suffering with) and hope he will still operate on me.

I'm nervous as a cat, can't sleep, (despite taking the sleeping pill, lunesta) am crabby, (xanax for that one) and my limbs don't work very well as I've had symptoms for way too long without giving too much thought to them. I saw a chiropractor who removed most of my severe headaches, (blamed on allergies last spring by my allergist) but the pain then went into my arms & legs, so I'm not so sure I like chiropractors anymore. I trust this surgeon, as he's one of three I saw with this diagnosis and he is much more thorough than the others.

I wonder what questions I should ask him tomorrow, as I don't think I will see him again until after my surgery. But maybe some of you can answer some of them for me. My first one is how much movement do you get in your neck after the operation has healed? Is there only a slight lack of movement or significant? Did any of you need a cane to get around after surgery? I feel like I could be using one right about now as my legs are growing weaker by the day. Did any of you use a special pillow at home? Was any part of your hair shaved? What kinds of pain medications did you take? I'm currently taking 1500 mg vicodin to actually cut the pain, only 500 to lesson it if I want to drive. I don't like having to take such heavy drugs but the pain is unbearable without them. In fact, it was because of my headaches, last spring that wouldn't go away with any number of ibuprofen that got my PCP on the search for the cause of them. Unfortunately, it took until October or November to be diagnosed!

He only does these types of operations on Tuesday, so I hope I get him next Tuesday! He told me that it's a 4-5 hour procedure and I'd have to stay in the hospital for 3-4 days. My husband is staying home with me until I can get around on my own during the day. How long did it take most of you to go without a nurse mate? I don't like having somebody take care of me, almost as bad as I hate not being able to be an independent driver which I'm told I can't do for 3 months. I do look forward to the time at home, reading, providing I can hold books & my laptop... any problems in that area?

Sorry for being so long winded. I sincerely hope I get some response before my appointment so I feel a little more ready for him. Each time, he asks if I have questions & I haven't had that many, perhaps you can help. Or answer the ones you can. Thanks for being here.

~Ro

 
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Old 01-16-2007, 11:17 PM   #2
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Hi There Ro,

Don't be panicked, I know it sounds silly to say that, but my husband just had the exact same surgery done on January 11th. He had C5-6 and C6-7 ruptures and had been suffering huge for months prior. His left arm had awful radiating pain and also numbness/ tingling. His thumb and pointer finger were numb and he had very little use of his tricept muscles. He was on Major meds...15 mg vicodin every 6 hrs along with valium, flexiril etc. Finally ended up on percocet plus all the other stuff. The surgeon also told me it would be a 4 hour surgery, and it sometimes is, but his took only two. When he woke up, he felt so much better...all the arm, neck pain was pretty much gone except for obvious post surgical pain. He still has a little numbness in the tip of his left pointer finger, but it may be a few weeks for that to go away. Don't get me wrong, it's no walk in the park, but rest assured you should feel better soon after the surgery. He is in a rigid collar for two weeks (quite difficult to get used to, but necessary) and then he'll go to a soft one for two more. He can't drive for the first two weeks as it is dangerous with the rigid collar (you really can't move your head to see). He can walk and move around freely though, and is pretty self sufficient. He needed help showering the first time, mostly because he was afraid because you have to remove the collar so as not to get it wet. He's still on meds, but the worst of the pain is in his esophoghas, as they have to move it aside to access the area. Swallowing will be tough for a few days, but he's even recovering from that pretty fast. He has to have a bone growth stimulator which must be worn for a few hours per day, but it's no big deal. This is common post op for people who smoke, have ever smoked or are (as you are) having multiple disks repaired...especially if they are right on top of one another like my husbands were. All in all, it was a pretty standard operation and has little likelyhood for complications. We have to get an xray prior to switching to the soft collar to assure fusion is occurring properly. Good luck and keep me posted or let me know if you have any more questions. I'm no expert, but I'll share what I do know.

 
Old 01-17-2007, 08:05 AM   #3
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Hi,

Your feelings are very normal. Any time you have to go under, regaurdless of the surgery, it's scary.

Try to think how much better you will feel once you go through this. Use this board as much as you can, because the support is so helpful.

Here's some answers to your questions:

My first one is how much movement do you get in your neck after the operation has healed?

At first, once the collar comes off you will be careful in your neck movement. Eventually you will find the change to be minor (I had the same levels done as you are). I am 2 1/2 years out and hardly notice it anymore. I do have to rotate my torso with my neck to look out the back window of my truck when backing a trailer.

Did any of you need a cane to get around after surgery?

No, unless you have walking problems now, you shouldn't need one.

Did any of you use a special pillow at home?

Yes, I used the contour foam pillows they sell at drugstores. I bought two of them, to help prop the neck. I really like them, and still use them to sleep.

Was any part of your hair shaved?

No, they don't work anywhere near your hair, the cut is below the mid point on your neck, and off to one side. Mine is on the right. The surgeon put it right in a wrinkle on my neck, so you can barely see it today.

Hope that helps a little.

Dennis

Last edited by dennisgb; 01-17-2007 at 08:07 AM.

 
Old 01-17-2007, 08:29 AM   #4
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Re: Pre-op jitters

I am six weeks out from my acdf (two level - same levels as you) with plate. I had to wear an Aspen collar for 3 weeks and still wear it to travel. Riding in a car is tough even now if it is over 30 minutes. Jiggling and pot holes send those muscles into spasms. I don't take any heavy pain med, only if hurting to sleep at night. I do take Raboxin if the muscles are really firing, plus heat and cold. My trapezius is still on fire most days (top of shoulder). Some of this is from wearing the bone stimulator 4 hours per day. It rubs right on top of this muscle. I was not able to read books as you are not to extend your neck forward/down or back. This was the MAIN precaution that my doc specified even after collar was taken off. Books on tape really help as does your favorite music. Some nights at first can be rough with no sleep. Another thing I have not seen discussed on this board is to eat lots and lots of protein. I finally figured out I needed even more protein to make me feel better. Your muscles, bones, are trying to heal and protein is a major factor. Lots of pillows for sleeping is a good thing. I changed pillows again last night as things adjust your pillow needs do to. Lots of luck!

 
Old 01-17-2007, 05:46 PM   #5
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Re: Pre-op jitters

another good thing to do is start taking calcium......your bone is going to need it for fusion.........I am having surgery the 24th and 2 other gals on here are having surgery on the 23rd.......we will be thinking of you and we all will post after surgery..........read back on some of the threads ........LOTS OF INFORMATION HERE FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE "BEEN THERE/DONE THAT".....GOOD BLESSINGS

 
Old 01-17-2007, 09:12 PM   #6
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Hi Melindafm,

I'm just wondering about the comment regarging the bone growth stimulator. My husband gets his on Monday, and I am concerned because you said it causes pain. I didn't realize that...his neurosurgeon said he wouldn't feel it. What can we expect, or did I misunderstand what you said? Thanks for input.

Last edited by justme231; 01-17-2007 at 09:14 PM.

 
Old 01-17-2007, 10:12 PM   #7
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Thanks for all the well wishes and great advice. I saw my surgeon today & he has scheduled the surgery for the 23rd, so that's three of us on that day. :-)

I had an EKG & physical for preop after my visit with the surgeon. Tomorrow, I'll finish with blood work, chest xray & visit to my other doctor who can give me something else for the pain & to sleep. I seriously don't think it's wise to go in totally sleep deprived, which I feel is happening. Perhaps I'll be able to sleep this weekend.

I've become a germaphob so I hope to stay well before & after this procedure. Tomorrow is my last day in public before the surgery. I've moved to the other side of the house in our guest bedroom, away from my husband because one of his collegues came to work with a nasty cough/cold symptoms the other day. The kids go to the daily germ factory too, so no more kisses for them. My doctor suggested wearing a surgical mask, so far I haven't resulted to that but do lysol up the place when the family arrives home. The surgeon said it would be really horrible if I'm to get a cough & get some loose screws. I don't think he put it exactly that way but that's the gyst. ;-) and more surgery would be the treatment. :-(

I'm trying not to stress out & realize I'm my own worse enemy. This board has helped immensely because I think I'd be much more nuts if I didn't read all the success stories. What a great find this place has been. Thanks for being here!

~Ro

 
Old 01-18-2007, 06:40 AM   #8
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Quote:
Originally Posted by justme231 View Post
Hi Melindafm,

I'm just wondering about the comment regarging the bone growth stimulator. My husband gets his on Monday, and I am concerned because you said it causes pain. I didn't realize that...his neurosurgeon said he wouldn't feel it. What can we expect, or did I misunderstand what you said? Thanks for input.
The bone stimulator itself is painless. It is annoying because you can't talk on a phone when you have it on as it makes a clicking sound. My problem is the muscle on the top of my shoulder near my neck stays inflamed and spasms. The bone stimulator is a big necklace and the edge of it sits right on top of this muscle so if I move around much it rubs and makes the muscle spasm more. I like to wear it first thing in the day to get it over with as it is a little heavy (for a man it will probably not be too heavy). I am only 5'1" so it does weigh me down a little. Fun side of the thing is the lady who showed me how to use it suggested that I decorate it. She says she has seen some pretty neat things (gem stones or decorating it like a cat). It looks like a cat face. Your hubby probably won't get into decorating though.

 
Old 01-18-2007, 07:26 AM   #9
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Quote:
Originally Posted by justme231 View Post
Hi Melindafm,

I'm just wondering about the comment regarging the bone growth stimulator. My husband gets his on Monday, and I am concerned because you said it causes pain. I didn't realize that...his neurosurgeon said he wouldn't feel it. What can we expect, or did I misunderstand what you said? Thanks for input.
Melinda,

Are you sure you are talking about the same thing? Normally the bone growth stimulator isn't used until after the surgery and there is slow fusion.

Are you talking about bone growth hormone or BMP which is a paste that is applied to the bones during the surgery to improve the fusion rate.

I had this done, and it doesn't cause any additional pain.

There are other threads on here about BMP if that's what your looking for.

Dennis

 
Old 01-18-2007, 11:06 AM   #10
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Quote:
Originally Posted by dennisgb View Post
Melinda,

Are you sure you are talking about the same thing? Normally the bone growth stimulator isn't used until after the surgery and there is slow fusion.

Are you talking about bone growth hormone or BMP which is a paste that is applied to the bones during the surgery to improve the fusion rate.

I had this done, and it doesn't cause any additional pain.

There are other threads on here about BMP if that's what your looking for.

Dennis

 
Old 01-18-2007, 11:18 AM   #11
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Re: Pre-op jitters

My bone stimulator was given to me the day I came out of the Aspen collar (3 weeks after surgery). My doc feels because I am 2 level I should wear it to aid the fusion. It is manufactured by Orthofix (cervical-stim bone growth stimulator). It is like a large belt (necklace) that you hang around your neck. The brace at the top that goes across the back of my neck makes clicking noises when I have it on. The control hangs at the bottom. It is preprogrammed to run for 4 hours within a 24 hour period. It was recommended to wear it for 4 hours straight but I can run it for 2, rest and then wear it for another 2. The control does not allow it to run for more than the 4 hours in a 24 hour period. My understanding is it records internally how many hours you have worn it. I then have to attach it to a charger. I discovered today (forgot to attach to charger yesterday) that it can run for 6-7 hours before running out of battery power. I thought this was a rental type device but was told it belongs 100% to me. It is setup to be rechargeable for about 9 months before it wears out. Somewhere I saw this device cost about $5000.00. The person at the docs who explained the unit to me says it is a Class III medical device (same class as a pacemaker). It is a pretty interesting concept. Seems damaged bone creates an electrical field trying to repair itself. They have discovered by putting an electromagnetic field around damaged bone, it encourages a faster rate of healing. The device does click and I cannot talk on a phone because of the clicking. Don't know what else it may interfer with (airport or courthouse security???)

 
Old 01-18-2007, 07:57 PM   #12
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Re: Pre-op jitters

My first one is how much movement do you get in your neck after the operation has healed?
-I have near full range of motion. As soon as I got the aspen collar off at 6 weeks post-op I had significant limit in my side to side range of motion but as my muscles healed and got exercise through everyday use this got better quite quickly.

Is there only a slight lack of movement or significant? Slight

Did any of you need a cane to get around after surgery? A cane would not be reccomended in most cases. When you use a cane you put a lot of weight on to your arms which impacts your shoulder and your neck. If you currently use a cane then you may need one post-surgically but otherwise I can't see you needing one unless you have leg symptoms.

Did any of you use a special pillow at home?
-I bought a bed wedge that helped raise my head a bit and then used a variety of pillows to make myself comfortable.

Was any part of your hair shaved?
-an ACDF is anterior - they go through the front of your neck so there is no need to shave. A posterior fusion could involve a small shaved area.

What kinds of pain medications did you take?
-Post op in the hospital I was on Morophine drip that I controlled (very common these days - patient controlled medication). For discharge I had oxycontin, valium and flexeril. Eventually I transitioned to percocet and needed that sporadically through about week 10 (at week 6 I returned to work and would just need percocet and/or valium when I'd get home).

He only does these types of operations on Tuesday
-That would be quite lucky. Most surgeons have to schedule out quite a few weeks. When I decided to have it done I was able to schedule it for 4 weeks from the date we determined the surgery would be done.

He told me that it's a 4-5 hour procedure and I'd have to stay in the hospital for 3-4 days.
-It can be 4-6 hours and most people stay in the hospital 1-2 nights. I stayed in 2.

My husband is staying home with me until I can get around on my own during the day. How long did it take most of you to go without a nurse mate?
-I had the surgery on a Thursday, returned home Saturday and my husband went back to work on Monday. I was fine on my own and just made sure stuff was within my reach (food, meds, etc).

I don't like having somebody take care of me, almost as bad as I hate not being able to be an independent driver which I'm told I can't do for 3 months.
-I had to wear an Aspen Collar for 6 weeks and then could begin to drive. I too don't like having someone take care of me. I was able to do most of what I needed on my own the first week I was home. I did limit how much I drove when I started at 6 weeks - just until I felt more comfortable doing so.

I do look forward to the time at home, reading, providing I can hold books & my laptop... any problems in that area?
-If you are wearing a collar post-surgery reading and typing can be tough. I was most comfortable watching TV or reading light material (magazines).

Suggested questions:
-Will I need to wear a collar post-op? If so, can I be fitted now so I can be sure it is comfortable? If no collar, can you explain why you don't use one.
-I expect to need 1-2 nights in the hospital. Will you then evaluate me and work with my insurance if more time is needed?
-When will I be able to begin driving?
-What will be my lifting/carrying restrictions in the first few weeks after surgery?
-How soon after the surgery will I have a follow-up appointment and how often thereafter and at what intervals?
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Old 01-18-2007, 07:59 PM   #13
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Justme:

I had a bone growth stimulator I wore around my neck for 6 weeks - at 4 hours per day. I felt no pain from this at all. It was more of a nuisance as it interfered with our cordless phone, cell phone and wireless laptop so I had to avoid calls or take the thing off to make calls.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 01-19-2007, 07:05 AM   #14
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Re: Pre-op jitters

Melinda,

Sorry, I was directing the comment to justme231.

I put the wrong name in.

justme231,

Are you sure you are talking about the same thing? Normally the bone growth stimulator isn't used until after the surgery and there is slow fusion.

Are you talking about bone growth hormone or BMP which is a paste that is applied to the bones during the surgery to improve the fusion rate.

I had this done, and it doesn't cause any additional pain.

There are other threads on here about BMP if that's what your looking for.

Dennis

 
Old 01-19-2007, 10:19 AM   #15
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Re: Pre-op jitters

One thing that helped me with the pre-op jitters. Try to remember that you will be exactly where you need to be at the right time. A whole bunch of super smart people will be surrounding you; they will be prepared for every possible contingency. It's not as if you're being flown in by helicopter. Your health care team will be giving you the best possible care and, before long, you'll be feeling much, much better than you do today.
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