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Old 08-16-2008, 08:06 AM   #1
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Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

Hey everyone,

It has been a while since I have posted in this topic area. I usually post in the PM and Chronic Pain forum.

Lots has gone on to get this suregery date. Just to recap some things..here we go..this is long

Well after the Jan 2008 surgery (foraminotomy c 3-4 4-5 I felt better for a few weeks and then steadily went down hill from their. My Neuro had always told me I would need later fusion but that he did not like to do them on people my age.

In the end of Feb this year I felt soooo bad that my attorney (injury was from a car accident) set up an appoinment with an Ortho Surgeon who's specialty in Spine. Anyway at that time the OS said you will always have a bad neck and right now it is too soon to access anything because your to soon out from surgery. He said come back and see me in 6 weeks if your still feeling like this bad. Needless to say I came out of this appt. crying my eyes out.

Well I did not go back after six weeks because the Neuro who did the surgery had me working with my PM doing some facet blocks etc..none of which even put a dent in my pain.

All through the months after my first neck surgery the Neuro's attitude seemed to get more and more rude. It was as if he thought I was nuts and my pain was not real. He was the one mind you who said right from the begining I would need the fusion.
I even did the discogram which corralated with the symptoms I was having. The test was positive. The neuro never even explained the results to me. That was in May and what a painful test that was!
The neruo asked me to see a Pain Psychologist to see if I was a good surgical candidate. The Pain Psych's results were I was a good to fair candidate but still the Neuro was reluctant for whatever reasons and he was becomeing more and more standoffish. He actually was shocked at the Pain Psych's evaluation.
Finally at one appointment, my mom was with me...I flat out asked the neuro how old he thought I was? He got real quiet. I said "do you think I am in my 20's?" He said yes! I was shocked. The doctor did not even know my AGE. I said look I will will be 39 years old in December and it is right in my file.
So then the neuro got rude and said "Why don't you go back to Dr. Jones (the Orhto) and pick his brain and see what he wnats to do. And!! Hey if you like him better I wont be offended if you just have him do the fusion!" Well My mom and I were shocked at his atttude.

Sorry so long, but I gotta get this out.
I went back to the Orhto!
The thing is this was the second time I was in this office for an appointment and I was treated really well. The PA came in and sat down and went over the discogram I had back in May. He explained how the disogram results were positive and showed the tearing and bulgin discs. he told me that the test corralated with my symptoms and then went on to tell how this problem is treated with the ACDF. He then went into great detail and explained the whole surgery. I had questions written down concerning this surgery but I never had a chance to ask them to the Neuro because we never got to that point. I did not bring them to the Ortho appointment, but the PA answered every question without me ever asking!!!

He did a neurological exam and then the doc came in and talked to me and explained everything the PA just went over and then did his own Neruological exam. The doc decided that yes I need the fusion but he wanted to rule out the rotator cuff as an issue before doing the surgery. I was showcked becuase I tried to get the darn neuro surgeon to rule that out a long time ago.

So I went and had the nerve test and MRI which both showed no real issies other than a bit of bursitis in the shoulder.
I went to the Neuro's office with the tests and he would not even gove me the time of day and told me to come back on a few weeks. Basically he would not comment on anything. He only asked me how I was and where my pain was. I said in the same palce it alwasy has been and the same intensity it has been for the last 6 months.

When I left there I was so mad I was seeing red! I said that is it I am done with this Neuro and I will continue on with the Ortho who takes the time to listen and treat me as a human and not just some broken machine part!

So on last Thursday I went back to the Ortho Surgeon. I got the same treatment as the last time I had been there. The PA came in and explained all the tests sI had and suggested that the OS may wnat me to go to a doc about the shoulder. We discussed this further and I told him I have no pain in my shoulder joint. Only in my neck and burning also in the very lowest tip of the scapula close to my spine.
When the OS came in he discussed the tests, then discussed the shoulder and decided that I did not need to go and be treated for anything to do with that because I have no symptoms and the tests don't really show much.
SO then he asked me to tell him how I came back to seeing him and why I wanted to continue with him and not the Neuro. I told him all about my 3 1/2 year ordeal with Work comp and my arm injury that led to 4 surgeries. I told him how I worked hard to recover from the injuries and surgeries and how I got off all medication and was real good for about 3 weeks. At the 3 week mark I got into this car accident that basically was a trade ffrom the WComp stuff to a car accident and attorney deal and a different injury. I told him how the neuro was not a spine specailist and I felt that at this time I need to go with his practice. I did not want to bad mouth the Neuro. That would be not good.

So the OS went on the explain how my neck problems are treated with the fusion. He gave me a booklet and we went trhough it together. He stated that I was a good candidate because it had been over a year since the injury and no improvement and also six months since the first surgery with little to no improvement.

We continued to discuss my quality of life. I told him about how I am an addict and alcoholic in recovery and how this injury has made it difficult to take part in recovery events and dinners and parties, and sit in meetings so my meeting attendance is down. I told him how I have always been compliant with th PM and my meds. I explained how my career I have been going to school for the pats 3 years should have had me already applied to the nursing program already but because of my neck injury I am behind and if the surgery does not help enough I may have to change my career focus. I told him how every day life stuff that all people do such as grocery shop, wahs dishes or clothes, fix my hair and shower, etc. are all pain intensifiers. I told him how I have no socail life because I pay dearly when I go out to a dinner party for 2 hours and then need to spend a whole day in bed. I explained I have no way to support myself and need to try and get well enough to go to work.

He listened to everything! It was really really cool to know and feel that he genuinly cared about me as a person and not some damaged machine part!

So the end result is I am now finally scheduled to have a Two level ACDF with plate and screws at C 4-5 and C 5-6 on September the 3rd.
I have tried every traditional method of treatment to get rrelief with no luck. This has been a very long and hard thing to endure as you all know from your own struggles.

So if you have read this far and have any experience with this suregery. Please come forward and share your experiences with me. What do I need to do between now and then to prepare for this surgery? I will have my Mom here after surgery for a while. She may need to drive home and be gone for a few days at which time I may stay with a fried or have someone else come stay here.

Thans for reading all this stuff. It felt soooo goood to get it all out. I know that many of you have been there and continue to be here for me. So thank you for that.

Chrissy

 
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Old 08-16-2008, 05:05 PM   #2
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

Chrissy,

Thank goodness you're finally getting the treatment you need and from what sounds like a great doctor too! I've been following your saga since I joined the board as a cervi myself a year ago and I'll be adding you to my prayers that this surgery will do the trick for you and get your life back on track. Best wishes and we're all pulling for you!

 
Old 08-16-2008, 06:09 PM   #3
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

Deadlifter,
Well thank you so much for the prayers and for keeping up on my story.

So your a cervi too?? Forgive me but I do think I have read a few of your posts, would you refresh my memory a bit about what is going on with your neck? Only if you'd like to..no pressure!

Its like I can't be;ieve I am finally here! There has been much looking into this surgery and its outcomes. You just never really know how one person will respond to a spinal surgery.

The first one I had done (foraminotomy at C 3-4 and 4-5) I have heard is much more painful post-operatively. The inscision is on the posterior aspect of the neck and this one will be anterior. I hope those who have gone before me with both these surgeries are right becase that one was a toughy!

Couple questions:
Has anyone ever purchased a wedge pillow to use after this surgery? What size was it and where did you purchase it? I would like to find one that is somehwat high-backed so that I am in a 1/2 recine and slightly raised enough to maybe watch the TV. I know Bed Bath and Beyond has them but they are a bit smaller than I was looking for.

Next thing is..I have 14 stairs to get from the downstairs to my bed room. Do you all think I should set up shop in the bedroom for the first few days out of the hospital? Last time when I had the foraminotomy I don't rember to much trouble but I only had a soft collar and no fusing of anything was nvolved?

Are there any other tips or suggestions you all might have for me to prepare my home? I live alone and have no kids or BF...but my Mom will be here for the surgery and after.


Thanks for the support!

SKZ, or Finona Jo if you all read this I would love to hear how you are doing because it has been a while.

Chrissy

 
Old 08-16-2008, 09:37 PM   #4
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

The ACDF is SO much easier than the posterior cervical foraminotomy. To be honest I am 3 months post foraminotomy and still have muscle spasms. The ACDF was a breeze compared to this past 3 months of recovery from the foraminotomy (which I should have known from all you told me). I had good and instant pain relief from the ACDF and am very glad I had it done.

I really think wearing a neck brace post ACDF helped me. I had an aspen brace for 6 weeks and while I thought it would be horrid it was actually very helpful - supported my neck (without taking over my muscle function so I still had to support my own head) and I could move and sleep with confidence knowing I couldn't move the wrong way. At about day 5 post ACDF I could shower daily - but washed my hair every 2 days. I could take the brace off for showering - but also got a second set of pads for my brace should I feel the need to shower with it on -then I could replace the pads with dry ones.

My ACDF was with an Orthopedic Spine Surgeon and I'm glad I went that direction. Also ask if they use any kind of external bone growth stimulator. It was a battery operated unit I wore around my neck for 4 hours a day. The electric field it creates helps the body heal - and from what I've seen in postings here it seems my fusion went well and occurred quickly possibly due to the use of this unit.

And, the big thing in ACDF (or any fusion) is to avoid NSAIDS (aspirin, advil, aleve, etc) during recovery as it can inhibit fusion. If you are not able to take the vicodin (or similar drugs) something like tramadol might be an option. That's what I used for the majority of the 6 months after my ACDF.

I came home on a Saturday and my husband went back to work on Monday. I was pretty much independent - only needing help with laundry. I just made sure i could reach whatever I needed (so things like mouthwash were on the bathroom counter instead of under the sink, milk was in a smaller manageable container instead of a gallon container, etc).

I have used the wedge pillows (both the lower one and higher one) and LOVED them each time. I got mine at Bed Bath and Beyond - you can buy two if you want to get the higher height as like you said the one's I've seen at BBB are smaller. You can also find the higher ones on the internet. I think the one from BBB is 7 inches and the other ones are closer to 14. We have the large one from years ago when my mother in law had surgery and she bought it at a local medical supply company. Or ask BBB if they can get you the higher version. It made sleeping on my back so much easier. I swear I would have loved a hospital bed at home as you can move it up and down and I'd be more comfortable but I wasn't going to spend the money to rent one.

The stairs shouldn't be too much of a problem. Like I said, you are likely to feel better with the ACDF if you had a lot of muscle type pain with the foraminotomy like I did.
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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 08-17-2008, 08:19 AM   #5
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

hey chrissy. my god woman,you ARE a saint to not have just hauled off and punched that as# in the freaking face. that is just soooo sick in how you were treated,so sick hon. sorry you had to go thru that at all. what an idiot. i am really happy tho that you DO have someone to do this surgery who actually treats you like a human being and not just another number on that good old asembly line of surgery. believe me hon,i have had some of the best surgeons(6 surgeries and an aneurysm coiling all done since 01) and some of the worst,and it really does make you appreciate the good ones even more.

everything that AZ just told you is about exactly what i was going to tell you too hon. that surgery you had,like i told you before IS much more painful with a much longer recovery time than having the anterior approach. this surgery will be nothing like that one at all. so thats some good news to hang on to.

did this surgeon say whether or not you will be in a collar after or not? having the hardware done in some cases,some surgeons don;t use them. but i would request it even if he decides not too,just in order to keep you from doing some movements that would not be good for healing correctly. they are a pain, but in the long run, YOU benefit from having a good solid alignment during at least the first few weeks anyways. i had that horrid philly collar the first time around and it was just way too big for my small neck area(told him i needed a peds collar and he thought i was crazy, but i was right) but the second time around when i had the hardware placement done,i was finally told that i could have one actually 'fitted' to my neck size. for some sick reason they never told me that the first time,and believe me, i suffered with that huge thing. so the second surgery i had a miami j collar that was a ped size and much much more comfy than the philly ick was,way more. ask to be sent to some orthotics facility where they can actually fit a collar that will be the most comfy for YOU if this is indeed the way he goes with it.

just follow what AZ up there told you abnout the NSAID crap too and the other great things in that post chrissy and i think you will do just fine. even the pain from this approach compared to what you had to endure with that other one will be like night and day hon,really. there just are no thick muscles that has to be gone thru like in the back,and that in and of itself makes it way way better for you,trust me on that one. i had that done myself for my spinal cord surgery and i am still suffering with muscle hell from it and it was back in 03? it just sucks going in thru the back.

you may be much more comfy just sleeping in a recliner if you have one or even just propping up pillows behind you so your upper body is more in the "sitting up" type of posistion? at least for the first week or so. i didn;t have a recliner but used big pillows to keep me kind of upright for a couple weeks. it really was my most comfy posistion. i am sure you will do okay crhrissy,you have had to go thru sooo much hell just to get here. hopefully from here on out,things will finally just keep going your way for once huh? i WILL be thinking of you on the 3rd sweetie. please keep us posted. hang in there hon,marcia
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3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

 
Old 08-17-2008, 04:33 PM   #6
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

Thanks Spine AZ and feelsbad,

Yes the Ortho Is so nice. i really do feel more comfortable with him doing this surgery. He even seemed more confident then the NS.

The day before surgery I am supposed to be fitted with an Aspen collar. i will have this done right in the Orthos office and then I will also go over any other things I need to at that visit.

Today I did go and have the EKG abd bloodwork etc. I will also need to go to the surgery center and chek in about a week or so before surgery. I want to make sure they know NOT to gove me Morphine or Dilauda by IV. I will break out in hives and get sick to my stomach as well as get so severly constipated that I have in past experiences had to go to the ER for blockage. SO now I just say do NOT give it to me.
I do take Morphine sulfate oraly but I do not have the same problem with it that way.
The best thing for me post op is to give me Demoral and I am going to tell them that. Not to mention al the anesthia stuff.

I have already told the orthos office the name of the anesthesia doc who was there in January for the first neck surgery so I think they are trying to actually get hiim in for this surgery. We will see.
Lots of small things to get worked out but I will manage to get them done.
I will check around online for the wedge pillow and go out to Bed Bath and see if I might just be able to cope with 2 of the 7 inch wedges. Like I said lots of little things to do.
Thanks for all the info and I will keep you all posted on everything. I don't know the exact time of day the surgery is, but I am hoping it is in the Morning. I like morning surgery's the best because then I don't have to sit around being anxious ya know! Oh and hungyr to boot! lol

Chrissy

 
Old 08-18-2008, 08:27 AM   #7
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

just one thing here chrissy. since you DO very obviously have a real allergy to MS and dilaudid, it would really really be in your best interest to actually ALWAYS be wearing one of those medic alert tags that says that? i worked EMS for over 14 years hon and i can tell you that in most instances where you are in a severe pain situation,the one med that is always given strictly in the pre hospital arena IS MS. it is,if i remember right,the ONLY pain med that medics actually carry in the rigs. in some possible scenerio where you are not fully conscious or simply not fully alert,you could inadvertantly be given this for some specific reason and would have a reaction,you know what i mean?

either wearing the bracelet or even the necklace type really really would be a very good idea. we always looked for medic alert tags on people who were not conscious or able to simply tell us what they could be allergic to before actually giving them ANY meds that could be reacted to. believe me,there are MANY people out there who have that very same reaction to MS that you do. it is a very common med to have reactions to. you just really have to have some way of indicating any real allergy to someone if you cannot actually speak for yourself ya know?

just an FYI for ya here but the bracelet really IS the best way to go,it is much more easily seen than wearing the necklace which can sometimes get kind of hidden depending upon your posistion and what you are wearing? my son wears the bracelet thing himself. they also have some really pretty looking ones availiable these days(just make certain that the 'medic alert" insignia is easily seen in the design). i have to get one myself for a few different reasons, but you definitely need to have one with that type of allergy hon. MS is just used alot in many different situations that it could possibly be given to you if the people who should know simply don't.

just tryin to keep you safe chrissy. you have already been thru way more than any human should have to be put thru. i am glad they are fiitting you with that collar. i personally think it just really helps in keeping a person from doing certain things with their neck that could compromise a good well aligned fusion. please keep us posted hon. Marcia
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3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

 
Old 08-19-2008, 06:39 AM   #8
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

Thanks Marcia,

I was wondering about the allergy because I CAN take MS by pill for but when given it in an IV it is just so diffent that the pill. I guess because The IV just gets it right into the blood stream in a big whammo! I take 30 mg's 3 times a day but I think the standard in an ER to start with is actually a way lower dose ~ something like 4 mg,s is that because it is IV and obviously if you gave someone a bolus of 30 mg's all at once it would put them out. I hope you read this so I can maybe have this answered. I have just always wondered about that part.

Today I woke up and counted the days til my surgery and it is only 14 days away. I am nervous a bit. I feel scatterbrained.
The other day at the hospital I went to do the pre op tests...UA blood..EKG and they forgot to do my chest X-ray, so now I have to go back today if I am up to it.
Yesturday I thought I had a hair appointment and it was for today so I will be sitting for a couple hours for that.

Anyway I really appreciate all the support.
Chrissy

 
Old 08-19-2008, 09:47 AM   #9
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

Hello sweetie, you know I am praying for you & heck who would not be nervous? I would be a basket case. More then anything I pray you get relief, you have been through so much & you know of course we are all here for you. Bless you, Sammy

 
Old 08-20-2008, 06:31 PM   #10
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

Thanks Sammy,

How are you doing? I have to go and read some on the other board. I have been so busy trying to get everything in place for surgery.

You know I am also thinking of you always. This has been and still is one heck of a long road for the two of us turtles!
Chrissy

 
Old 08-21-2008, 08:09 AM   #11
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Re: Finally Have a surgery date. Now I am a bit scared!!

the only thing i can possibly think of with that type of response would be something that is actually in the IV form of MS that is possibly used as a stabilizer or something? that really is crazy hon. you really should find out why this is just in case ya know? have you ever spoken to your doc about this? perhaps asking your surgeon about it or even the hospital pharmacist if you get the opportunity(you could ask the hosp for the in hosp pharm number while there and just call down,since you don;t have anything better to do at that point anyways?)? i do know there is a big difference in the delivery between the IV MS and the long acting that i am assuming you are taking? what makes up the pill form and the IV form are totally different. maybe your response IS from some element,like i mentioned,the stabilizers in the IV form? i mean MS IS MS ya know? maybe the IV form just has much more sulfide/sulfates which IS a very strong reactive type of thing for alot of people. your body may only be able to accomdate or process that part of its make up over a longer period of time or something vs the sudden addition you would get with the IV form? what about the dilaudid you mentioned,is that any different?

i just think this needs to be figured out at some point ya know? you just need to know the 'whys' of this. you may just need to alert the dilaudid and IV MS. things just have a way of happening before ya know it,ya know? marcia
__________________
3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

 
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