My neurosurgeon is planning on doing an acdf in the next month. He will let me know when on Monday. I have read several post with wonderful information on recovery and what to expect. I have written down many notes. My question now is what should I expect for my healing time with my children around. I have 6 ranging in age - 1 year old to 13. I have heard that picking up my 1 year old will be out of the question - understandably. I have very anxious to get on with my life and am dedicated to do whatever it takes for my body to heal right. My husband is a great support. He will take whatever time off needed. My older children are wonderful help and have chores allready - so asking them to do a little extra is fine. Hopefully I will get through this before they all head back to school. I have lots of family and friends that will all help out. What realistically should I ask for. I want to set this all up ahead of time so I can focus on healing and not have to worry about my house and my children. Any of you have any suggestions that could help out. What did you do if you had children? What would you have done if you did have children?
Thanks ahead of time for all your help. This site has already been most helpful.
>>My question now is what should I expect for my healing time with my children around. I have 6 ranging in age - 1 year old to 13. I have heard that picking up my 1 year old will be out of the question - understandably. I have very anxious to get on with my life and am dedicated to do whatever it takes for my body to heal right. My husband is a great support. He will take whatever time off needed. My older children are wonderful help and have chores allready - so asking them to do a little extra is fine. Hopefully I will get through this before they all head back to school. I have lots of family and friends that will all help out. What realistically should I ask for. I want to set this all up ahead of time so I can focus on healing and not have to worry about my house and my children. Any of you have any suggestions that could help out. What did you do if you had children? What would you have done if you did have children?
Hi th2ju, I'm a mom who had my acdf in April. I have one 13yo, but he has numerous health issues (liver disease, crohn's disease, inherited cancer syndrome, GERD, autoimmune hives <allergic to himself>, and problems with his feet and knees/legs) and so, requires a lot more than you'd expect w/ one young teen -and a lot more physical care, especially when his legs 'give out' and he can't walk. I did not plan well enough before my acdf and had a harder time than I'd anticipated b/c of that. I would suggest that you schedule a line up of helpers and what specifically they will help with (ahead of time) and make sure it's firm or that you have back-up if x person can't make it after all when their day or need comes up. I'd cast a wide net for this help to cover as much as possible. With my 2nd surgery in May (low back was May), I cast a much wider net asking for help from neighbors and aquaintances (well-known aquaintances) as well. My husband, who also has health problems, took an enormous amount of time off work (between my 2 surgeries), but did so 'creatively', making arrangement with his boss for split days, working weekends to cover weekdays (weekends being easier for us to find helpers in place of hubby), and some telecommuting when possible. I would think the best help would be someone at your house w/ you and your kids to just help w/ whatever is needed during the time they have to spend there, sort of like a nurse at home w/ a bit of nanny, maid, and cook added in. For your earliest recovery you could line up people for 4-hour day shifts and your hubby can cover nights? Make sure you rearrange your kitchen and bath, in particular, so you do not have to reach up a lot for items you need. With my acdf I was told not to have my hands above shoulder-level for a bit, avoid using neck muscles, and that definitely meant retoodling where certain things were kept. At first, in your earliest part of recovery, just let others get things for you, though. Take it easy. Ask your helpers to pick a day or part-day to help out, then keep track so you can fill up your early weeks of recovery with their help -and have those back-up people in case someone cancels. Remember that you'll need someone to drive your kids wherever they need to go b/c you won't be driving for a while (and try your hardest to wait until you are truly ready to drive, before doing so). For me, that was one of the hardest parts of my recovery b/c my son has physical therapy and medical appts about 3x/week and most are ones I attend w/ him (PT, to see what new changes to therapy are added that I must have him do at home and to discuss problems and situations w/ his therapist -and medical to discuss the problems he's having and what we might be able to do about it, including med changes). I ended up being a passenger in a car when I should not have been b/c of this, but I didn't drive -always had someone lined up to drive us. As for a recovery time frame, by 4 & 1/2 to 5 weeks, I was feeling a lot better from my acdf (still not driving, though, and not lifting anything heavy). I still babied my neck, but had a lot more freedome than before. By 8 weeks, I was feeling even better still and would likely have been driving if not for my 2nd surgery by then (can't say for certain I would have been, but I think so). I'm now 12 weeks from my surgery and doing pretty darn well. My range of motion is pretty good, although I cannot move far into a head turn, only just enough (just enough being all I really need anyway), and I can't look up much yet. Looking up seems to be hard on me. Looking down is all right as long as I don't do it too long. By the end of the day, my neck is sore and either aching or hurting, depending on what I've done during the day -but that's b/c I'm doing so much more than I was before. I ice my neck at night and a couple times during the day to help alleviate that. I am still not lifting anything that is heavy, although I have had back surgery, too, and that is partly why. When I've attempted to lift more than I should, both my neck and back have let me know that I've done too much. I am still accepting help from others when it comes to anything heavy or 'heavy-ish' that needs to be moved or picked up. My NS's nurse gave me a great tip about lifting -hold it close to your body if you MUST lift it. The closer it is to your body, the "less" it weighs. The farther out from your body, the heavier. To hold my cats, I make sure they're snuggled to my body before lifting them (and waited 'til I was cleared for their weight, too). Also, I was told that I should be fused by 4 months, others here have been told much longer, but whatever amount of time, I intend to be cautious w/ my neck until I know I'm fused --and after, too, actually, but not as nervously.
My son has been a big help when he is able to and he tries to be even when he isn't feeling able. Definitely let your kids help in whatever ways they can and want to. You may feel some amount mother-guilt during your recovery, it's hard to avoid, but know that you're doing what's best for all of your children by taking care of such a serious situation with your neck. It's a gift to them as well as to you that you heal well. It sounds like you know that already, but I wanted to say it anyway. I know what's it like when mother-guilt comes and have needed to hear that myself, a few times over, as I've been recovering, too. Your family time will be different for a little bit, but you can still have family fun (after your earliest recovery). You may want to rent or borrow a ton of family-friendy movies that you can watch w/ your kids as you're recovering --games and books, too (Mad Libs are great for a time like this). Your kids can go with you on your 'recovery walks', too. Hmm, one more thing, with your youngest and maybe even the next youngest or so, too --let them see and touch your neck brace/collar before your surgery.. and have them watch you put it on and take it off beforehand, too. I unintentionally frightened a little boy about 3 w/ mine, the younger brother of one of my son's friends. My mother, too, couldn't see me while I wore it (she has Alzheimer's) b/c we knew it would upset or frighten her (or she might grab for it). I know I already said 'one more thing', but I've thought of another- Do you know how you react to anesthesia and the type of drugs you'll have in hospital and once home? You may want to talk to your kids about that, too, about how you may not be 'like yourself' at first and about seeing you in pain. That can be hard. With my acdf, I came out of anesthesia very poorly and it wasn't easy on my son to see me like that. I didn't want anyone near me and had my family leave b/c I was in so much pain and so violently sick. I had an atypical reaction to the drugs I was on when I got home, too, and that also scared my son (and husband). Even your oldest, same age as my son, may have trouble if you have any bad reactions -or even just seeing you in pain. I think it's better to talk about it first, but gently, of course. My body doesn't do well with drugs, so my reaction is no indication of what yours may be. I don't think bad anesthesia or bad med reactions are common, but as a parent I thought I'd mention the possibility. On the whole, my acdf recovery has been pretty good. I just had a bumpy deal with the drugs and not having lined up a firm schedule of help beforehand.
I wish you the very best with your surgery, recovery, and line-up of helpers. Don't worry if the house isn't looking as good as it normally does while you're recovering -that will pass in time. Oh, and if anyone gives you a gift card for maid service, hold onto it until you're recovered enough that you're not getting helpers anymore and are back 'on duty'... that's when you'll really want to use that extra help around the house, not before.
Thank you for your reply Wymom94. What an incredibly patient person you must be. You have your hands full and I hope all goes well with you. It isn't fair to have the caregivers the one needing care.
You gave me a wealth of information that I thought I wouldn't get! I am going to plan all the help out ahead of time. I will find out tomorrow when my surgery will be. I hope it isn't to far out.. I am not very patient. I am very nervous as well but I want to be on the road to recovery soon. My 13 year old is a boy as well. I don't have all the trials you do but he was born deaf and has presented with some challenges as well. He is a great helper though. My next one is a daughter at 11. She is wonderful with the younger children.
A few days before the surgery we plan to let the kids know all that is going on. Try to gently help them understand. My older 2 have already seen me in a lot of pain with the headaches I get. I think they already understand some. I love the idea about sharing the neck brace with them. I have relatives close by so when it is time for the surgery they will spend time over there. Probably a few days up to a week. They will have a lot of fun, it will keep their minds off of it, and it will help me get through a tough week. My husband will be home with me during that time. Then depending on school schedules I will have help come in the home here for the next week. Will 2 weeks of constant help be enough? I figured week 3 and 4 we can manage on our own. My kids are great at lifting and taking care of the baby. My husband can cook. What are your thoughts on this?
If the older ones are in school though I will send the younger ones out for the day to my sisters to play with her kids.
As far as driving... I have a few neighbors that would help in that direction. Our schools are all in walking distance. I will probably cancel piano lessons for my daughter for the month (she is fine with that). So I don't think I will have any where else I have to go. You said you thought you could have started driving again at 8 weeks? wow.. I don't think I have gone that long with out driving. I hope I don't get stir crazy.
I love the idea of the kids taking me on the walk. My 4 and 7 year old will love to do that with me. I also have plans to walk every day - starting very slowly - on my tredmill. It is downstairs right now but my husband said he would bring it up if I wanted to.
I am afraid of doing too much too soon. I don't stay down to easily. When I broke my foot years ago.. 2 days later.. I was caught by my friend down the stairs doing laundry when I was supposed to stay off of it. I am, however, taking my neck more seriously. I will try hard to let things go around the house and plan ahead for those things that will drive me crazy. I guess I need to consider this "me" time... and let things go. (hard to do!). I just want to make the best of this time - make sure I heal properly - so I am in less pain and on with my life. I am queen of the motherly guilt you were talking about. Fortunatly my husband grounds me. He is a wonderul guy.
Again, thanks for all the information you have given me. I will hopefull be a good girl, stay down, and get better!
>>I have relatives close by so when it is time for the surgery they will spend time over there. Probably a few days up to a week. They will have a lot of fun, it will keep their minds off of it, and it will help me get through a tough week. My husband will be home with me during that time. Then depending on school schedules I will have help come in the home here for the next week. Will 2 weeks of constant help be enough? I figured week 3 and 4 we can manage on our own. My kids are great at lifting and taking care of the baby. My husband can cook. What are your thoughts on this?
Hi Teresa (I finally saw your smiley face and name),
That first week plan sounds great, although your hubby might want a little help, too (mine did anyway --but then he's not the caregiver type by nature). The first week, I think, is the hardest so your plan for the kids and someone being w/ you all week sounds really good. If you can manage to get some help (not all day, but part of the day -someone coming by to just check on and help you for even an hour or so) for the 3rd week, maybe even the 4th since you have a large family to care for, that might make things a lot easier on you. You have a lot of responsibilities and I suspect you're going to be very tempted to do more than you should when you're home alone w/ the kids. It's our nature. Honestly, it adds something to the day (to the boring part of recovery), too, to have someone stop by and check in on you. I loved having visitors -and they always offered to help. Otherwise, though, it sounds like your hubby and kids are real team members and will be a big help. They might enjoy having visitors who help out past the 2nd week, too, of course.
>>If the older ones are in school though I will send the younger ones out for the day to my sisters to play with her kids.
If you're alone at this point, definitely make sure you've set the house up so you don't have to reach for things. I'd still see if you can line up visitors to come by --to give you a little perk in a long day alone or to help w/ things you need assistance with (or done for you).
>>You said you thought you could have started driving again at 8 weeks? wow.. I don't think I have gone that long with out driving. I hope I don't get stir crazy.
That was just me, might be different for you --and I can only guess at when I would have been driving b/c I had my back surgery when I was 5 & 1/2 weeks post-op from my neck. I do know I wasn't ready yet at that point. I tried to drive at 4 weeks or so and it was a disaster -and was definitely not safe (I drove a bit 'blind' b/c I didn't really turn my neck to look while driving). I was also very nervous about being in a car without my neck collar. I felt so much more secure, in case of fender bender and when hitting big road bumps or dips, having it on. As a driver, it was illegal for me to wear it, so I was more nervous about driving sooner rather than later.
Oh, and I did get stir crazy, lol, both times (neck and back surgeries). What's really nice is when you're up for being a passenger and can go to the store just to get out of the house. I was never so happy to buy bread, lol.
>>I am afraid of doing too much too soon. I don't stay down to easily. When I broke my foot years ago.. 2 days later.. I was caught by my friend down the stairs doing laundry when I was supposed to stay off of it. I am, however, taking my neck more seriously. I will try hard to let things go around the house and plan ahead for those things that will drive me crazy.
I can fully relate. I've had surgery before, but I never had spinal surgeries and I was much more nervous and cautious b/c of that. Nevertheless, l was still tempted to do 'more' when I got antsy from doing so little. It's true what they say on this board, though, take it easy and don't push. It's just sometimes hard to remind yourself of that when you're bored silly. Your body will remind you (sharply) if you push it, though, and then you'll regret it (sigh). Try your hardest not to push and to just do all that you are suppose to be doing as you move through your recovery, no more. I wish you luck with this!! I am not the sit quietly type either.
I hope you continue to post about your surgery and recovery as you move along toward and through it. And, I hope that you have a smooth and successful surgery and as smooth of a recovery as possible.
Thanks again for your response. I love knowing I have someone to chat with about this. I will defiantly keep posting. The hardest part is that my surgery isn’t scheduled until the 31st of this month. It seems so far away. Right now I am to the point that I function pretty well during the day as long as I don’t do much. If I do.. a day or two later I am hurting so bad. So I have been “practicing” doing nothing – LOL!
My husband is a great caregiver. He would do anything for me. If I say jump he’d say how hi. I guess after living through me being pregnant 6 times – he has picked up a lot. I think you are right about the first week though. Even though he will do whatever it takes I will probably set up meals for him. I have a great network of neighbors that will be happy to take turns (probably for 6 weeks!) bringing in meals 3 – 4 times per week (more if needed) I hate asking for that much help but keep thinking that if the tables were turned I wouldn’t hesitate to help someone else out.
As far as when my husband is back to work, my 13 and 10 year old will be home most of the time to help me out. I think caring for a 1 year old all day for several weeks would be too much for them, but they can certainly help me out and I can find help for the baby. These 2 boys will being going back to school about 3 weeks after my surgery. At that point – 4 of my children will be full time in school. 1 will be ˝ day (Kindergarten) and the other little one home. 4 weeks out I am thinking that during the day I will still get help for those two – at least for 2 more weeks.
>>Nevertheless, l was still tempted to do 'more' when I got antsy from doing so little. >>
Yep, sounds just like me! Even though I shouldn’t be up and doing much now (b/c I know it knocks me down) I still do.. what is wrong with me. I have a hard time looking at a mess and not cleaning it up. Seeing laundry needs to be done and letting it sit. I need blinders! I told my husband I was going to pin up posters all over my room to remind me that I want to get better – and that takes time!
>>Oh, and I did get stir crazy, lol, both times (neck and back surgeries). What's really nice is when you're up for being a passenger and can go to the store just to get out of the house. I was never so happy to buy bread, lol.>>
I bet that was great. Just getting out for a little bit makes a difference. Boost your spirits a little.
Again thanks for everything. I just have to sit and wait. I don’t sleep much anymore. The pain is awful. I am currently taking Lortab at night and sometimes Robaxin. During the day I deal with it. If it is really bad my husband calls on his way home so I know I can take medicine and he will be home in soon. Sigh – hope to make it through the month and then through recovery!