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Old 01-10-2012, 08:42 PM   #1
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Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

Well I went to see the NS today for what I thought was a one level C5-C6 anterior cervical disc fusion. Wow, did I leave with my jaw hitting the ground. He walked in and his first words after the introduction was "which surgery would be better." The one opinion of course is the anterior cervical disc fusion or I can't even remember the name of the other way he wanted to fix my herniated disc. (it had to do with taking a large section of vertebrae out so he could get to the disc material behind C6-C7 I think) Anyway, the one way would be a longer recovery and take a lot longer to fuse where with the anterior cervical disc 2 level fusion he figured he could get everything and would be better for me to recover from. (of course I told him I am not a patient person) It was like my disc exploded and was along my spine. He said my case was different than normal. Imagine that. All the way to my appointment this morning I was talking myself out of surgery saying I will be just fine without it and live in pain. Yep, that really worked. So here I sit tonight in tears. I have to wear an Aspen Vista collar for 6 weeks. Cannot even ride in a car for the first 2 weeks. I have never in my life stayed at home for two weeks. Here I am a nurse and when I sit in these appointments my mind just blocks everything out. It is like I am in denial and I have no brains at the time. I will have 1 night stay at the hospital. They will let me know after surgery if I will need a bone stimulator and my first post op check up is 6 weeks. This is all I remember other than I am so scared and cannot even focus. Surgery is scheduled for January 26. I am getting one more opinion next week but I can tell you right now it will probably be the same. I am sure you have all had this experience too where it seems like no one understands your fear and your tears are silent as you don't know how to express what you are going through. I can say this here because I know there are many who have walked in these shoes. Thanks for listening. I am sure the next two weeks will be sleepless nights.

 
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:27 PM   #2
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

Hi Jas-sorry it was worse than you expected. But I'm glad you finally have some answers and solution for the pain. Stay strong and don't let your fears get the best of you

 
Old 01-11-2012, 09:36 AM   #3
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

We are all stunned when we hear we need surgery but there is something about a doc cutting into your neck that seems to really bring out the fear. And being a nurse, you've probably heard the worst....doesn't help.

One thing I can share from being here and listening to the stories of others, is that this is one time when the expertize of your doc makes a huge difference. I have no doubt you've chosen your spine doc with great care but the more they do these surgeries, the better off you'll be. There are spine docs out there who make their livings fixing what other spine docs screw up!

The ACDF for a small area is a great surgery if done correctly. My first encounter with a spine surgeon was that I needed surgery from C3 to T1 or 2. Huh?! Excuse me? My neurologist had told me she thought I would need extensive surgery but this extensive? Then he showed me the MRI and where all the problems were. Do you leave 1 or 2 out and go back in a year or 2 or fix the entire thing at once? I did the whole kit and kaboodle at once only to break it 3 months later and have the entire thing fused from C3 to T1. And I still have problems!

So when your doc says no cars and stay home for 2 weeks.....do it. And 6 weeks in a hard collar....do it. I went back to work after 2 1/2 weeks. My doc said I could but only part time and with a ton of restrictions...and my boss violated everyone one of those restrictions and I worked far more than I was supposed to on top of it. And then a previous injury showed up and the whole neck fell apart. Now, I'm retired on disability.....SO DO AS YOUR DOC TELLS YOU!

You nurses and especially doctors make the WORST patients! So please, be nice to you and give yourself lots of time to heal. Tears are just fine...we've all done that...but let yourself be the kind of patient you always wish you'd have as a nurse.

gentle hugs...........Jenny

PS my daughter-in-law is a nurse(MA in pediatric nursing and manages peds clinics...and a bad patient!)

 
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Old 01-11-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

My first orthopedic spine surgeon did an ACDF C5-C6-C7. It went very well and some of my symptoms were gone when I woke up and of all the surgeries I've had this was very low on the pain scale. C4 was '"iffy" and I had wanted him to add it and he didn't feel it was necessary. Now it's necessary 6 yr later. So, I strongly advise anyone having spine surgery to talk to the surgeon before surgery and in the pre-op room that you want adjacent levels fixed or any other problem fixed if needed so you can hopefully avoid doing ACDF again
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:46 PM   #5
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

Thank you for all your kind words and especially the words of advice. Jenny, yep you are so right I am a terrible terrible patient. I guess when I am in the hospital I want to be treated like a person and if I come across a dr. or nurse who does not do that it makes me crazy so that is one of my problems up front. I have to agree that something about cutting into my neck and working on my spine is like hearing I have cancer. You know when you have your appendix out it is a clear cut thing but with the neck as all of you well know there are no guarantees for the future. And that is what we all want is our future without pain and restrictions.

I will try my hardest to follow all restrictions that are given to me. However, I am one when I am in my house and see things that are not getting done I just can't leave something lie. But I guess I won't see the floor for awhile since I will be wearing a brace, so there is a bright side. haha.

Even though my NS doesn't have that warm fuzzy personality he does know what he is doing. But it's my neck!!!!!!!!

Again, thanks to all of you for your words of encourage and advice. I will keep you posted on my 2nd opinion next week. I hope he gives me the same information and options that my current surgeon has given me. So for now I am happy with my NS and surgery is planned but I need that extra opinion. I am kinda doing things the backwards way.

 
Old 01-11-2012, 09:45 PM   #6
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

Hi Jas Wow, that was some news. I wasn't aware you were over here too! Speaking from my own personal lack of patience. You really need to develope some quick. I have followed my doctors orders to a T and then some! I am only 5 wks post op C5-C6 acdf. I was told things by my Doc that were just not working for me. Like I could drive in two weeks. I was better off for waiting three weeks more and, yes was stir crazy all along too! I have never been so serious about anything like, I have been with this whole spinal issue. You know from other boards that,I quit smoking with an ACDF in mind. I have read about how others have not been patient and, thus are having more problems. I am hoping to make this a one shot deal. I pray to God "no-one will ever have to cut me open again" in the area of my spine!!!!! If I have learned anything here it is "patience is a virtue!" I have personally spoke with a gentleman that has gone through these same surgeries. He has inspired me to have faith in my surgical procedure. And was very big on being patient too. If you are anything like most of us. Such as my self " I want to be better yesterday" He assured me he was healing just fine and was at 1 year post-op. He made me a believer and, helped me adjust my attitude too! As far as opinions are concernered. You can never get to many at any stage of the process! God Bless you with your upcoming surgery. I will make a note and, say a prayer for you! xoxo

 
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:42 AM   #7
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

Quote:
Originally Posted by jas1964 View Post
Well I went to see the NS today for what I thought was a one level C5-C6 anterior cervical disc fusion. Wow, did I leave with my jaw hitting the ground. He walked in and his first words after the introduction was "which surgery would be better." The one opinion of course is the anterior cervical disc fusion or I can't even remember the name of the other way he wanted to fix my herniated disc. (it had to do with taking a large section of vertebrae out so he could get to the disc material behind C6-C7 I think) Anyway, the one way would be a longer recovery and take a lot longer to fuse where with the anterior cervical disc 2 level fusion he figured he could get everything and would be better for me to recover from. (of course I told him I am not a patient person) It was like my disc exploded and was along my b spine. He said my case was different than normal. Imagine that. All the way to my appointment this morning I was talking myself out of surgery saying I will be just fine without it and live in pain. Yep, that really worked. So here I sit tonight in tears. I have to wear an Aspen Vista collar for 6 weeks. Cannot even ride in a car for the first 2 weeks. I have never in my life stayed at home for two weeks. Here I am a nurse and when I sit in these appointments my mind just blocks everything out. It is like I am in denial and I have no brains at the time. I will have 1 night stay at the hospital. They will let me know after surgery if I will need a bone stimulator and my first post op check up is 6 weeks. This is all I remember other than I am so scared and cannot even focus. Surgery is scheduled for January 26. I am getting one more opinion next week but I can tell you right now it will probably be the same. I am sure you have all had this experience too where it seems like no one understands your fear and your tears are silent as you don't know how to express what you are going through. I can say this here because I know there are many who have walked in these shoes. Thanks for listening. I am sure the next two weeks will be sleepless nights.

 
Old 01-12-2012, 03:13 AM   #8
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

@jas1964---sorry the news was worse than you expected . When I went to my neurosurgeon, I only went because my pm dr said I had to. I told the ns the first visit that I only came because he made me, don't plan on having my neck cut on too.( had lumbar fusion 10 yrs ago & never really got any relief) when he told me my spinal cord was being compressed & that's what all the symptoms were from & would probably be paralyzed if I didn't I decided to take the chance. Today I'm 2 DAYS post - op & don't regret it yet. It hasn't been nearly as bad as I thought. When I woke up from surgery the tingling was gone from my bands! But I have to admit I feel worse today than yesterday. I'm sure some of those nerves are waking up . The SORENESS is pretty bad today.the worst part , I think, is my throat. I can eat ' drink but my throat hurts a lot way down in my throat( not in the back of my mouth just way down in my throat. The hardest part a out the restrictions is the little things to me. Because almost everything weighs more than 5 pounds( he actually told my husband nothing over 2 pounds! And between my mom & my husband they are enforcing it! It's driving me crazy! Walking is no problem at all, it's the reaching for stuff, the handle on my moms recliner is is really hard to pull. So therefor they put me in the recliner & let the foot part out but when I'm ready to vet up, they want me to sit there until they come let the handle down. And I admit I've done it myself a couple of times & did feel the pain for it. So the little things make it hard , the things u do t think about that you do everyday! I had c5-6 & c6-7 fused & all the bone spurs removed . I have a cyst in my spinal CORD that he had to leave. He said it was burrows into my spinal cord & he would've had to open up the spinal cord to get it. Said it shouldnt be a problem since he took the pressure off of it. I totally trust my ns, he dent spit out a lot mumbo jumbo, just expains what he's gonna do or what he did & tells you why. Anyway I know you've gotten a lot of good advice on here & all I wanted to tell you is it's not as bad as it seems cause I was terrified & now I don't regret it. But if your like me the ist day was good,the second day was ok ' the third day the soreness sets in, but I was already hurting so bad & I know the soreness will subside. Keep us posted! I'm new to this so it takes me awhile to figure out when someone post on here but I'm starting to figure it out. I'll keep you posted on how mine goes from here. Good luck!

 
Old 01-12-2012, 03:54 AM   #9
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

It's funny, being nearly 6 yr post-op I always say the ACDF was much easier and far less painful than I thought. But I have to remember how terrifying the prospect of an ACDF can be for those facing it for the first time. I will say it was MUCH easier than lumbar fusion. In lumbar fusion with an incision down the back it involves dissecting through layers of muscle. But with ACDF they don't do that so the pain at incision site is considerably less. However with the neck and brace many people have muscle pain and spasm so muscle relaxants are important to have available.

My two tips for ACDF
(1) be as active, walking, as you can. I wasn't and became deconditioned. Returning to work 7 wk later was horrible, not due to the neck but due to being deconditioned! Second neck surgery I had I used my treadmill (with doctor approval) starting one week post-op with 1mph for 5 minutes adding 1 minute per day. When I got to three weeks I increased the mph to 1.25.
(2) buy a 45 spf lip balm (they one I get is Banana Boat) and whenever the scar is exposed to the sun apply the lip balm to the scar. Easier to carry than a tube of sunblock and easier to apply and get directly where needed.
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Last edited by SpineAZ; 01-12-2012 at 03:56 AM.

 
Old 01-12-2012, 05:53 AM   #10
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

great board i just love it here! @ Nanacan hang in there! Throat clears about 5 days ( drink alot of water!) latex taste lingers a lil bit longer! i too woke to no more tingling arms and hands. Dull acheing arms are gone! Some days have been better than others. Just natural that we tend to get uncomfortable, as soon as any kind of pains return. This healing process is slow..... that much I have learned! (post-op 35 days) Spineaz is so on about walking. I walk everyday and feel better for it. If walking alone, bring along a walking stick. Just in case there is some unruly canine in the area. Any quick movements result in quick pain. Weather on east coast has been most favorable so far this winter. What a big plus this has been mentally! I wish you the best in your recovery and, look forward to hearing how you are doing! greatest thing about these boards is they never sleep! Lol!

 
Old 01-12-2012, 09:50 AM   #11
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

SpineAZ...great tip with the lip balm for the scar protection....got to remember that for my knee scars when riding in the car with shorts on.

My biggest tip...give the healing time(I know, I always say the same thing). I've never had a surgery that is more up and down through the recovery process than these neck surgeries. Guess I'll be finding out soon if it also applies to the lumbar healing process. You will good one day and terrible the next. The numbness will be gone only to return for a few days and then go away again. Some days you sleep forever and the next you can't sleep. Depression is almost a given at some point in the healing process9has to be the deep anesthesia). So give it time.

It actually takes about 6 months for the bone to really grow strong and a full year to be completely fused. Time! And nerve cells that have been cut during surgery or damaged from whatever, can take 8-10 months to re-grow and re-connect so don't give up if you don't get all the feeling back right away. Took me 9 months to be able to move my left arm.....and now I can hold my 4 year old granddaughter.

Give it all TIME!

hugs............Jenny

 
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Old 01-12-2012, 03:31 PM   #12
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

@ jenny I deeply appreciate all that you post. All this surgery crap has been nerve ending( no pun) for me. I am feeling exactly the way you just described > (cervical healing!) and it's making me feel confused! I thought I was being patient and, just realized I need to develope a hell of alot more! I had no idea that it would take 1yr. I have a question...... I heard that in 6 mnths, the bone is jelling? Would that be partial or kinda like a full jelling of where bone is fusing? I have been looking for any info to help enhance this process. I obviously have plenty of time. Thanks again for the informative post! God Bless.

 
Old 01-12-2012, 05:25 PM   #13
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

Itralian1, nanacan & SpineAZ - I cannot thank you guys enough for all the information. I woke up at 3 am this morning in a panic over wearing the brace and what I couldn't do and then what needed to be done before surgery. Which is two weeks from today. Needless to say, I am cramming in many long hours right now trying to get everything done at work and plus I plan on working the weekends which I normally do not do. So I am literally exhausted both mentally and physically. Which of course the pain just gets worse and by the end of the day lots of tears. nanacan thank you for your honesty. I have to tell you guys I think the sore throat bothers me alot. I called my NS nurse today and she said they give me a dose of steriods while in the hospital to help with that. I started my chantix last Sunday so as of this Sunday no smoking. Which smoking is the only thing that has gotten me through all of this. I actually started chewing my fingernails. I have never done that. Wow!! Itralian1 I envy you having nice weather for walking. I live in Minnesota. Land of crappy weather this time of year. I am thinking of borrowing my moms treadmill as SpineAZ you used. I will ask permission first from my NS. I know I need to rest and take it easy and by the way you guys better be online because I am sure I will be up at all hours of the day and needing some pep talks. A huge thanks and hugs goes out to everyone. I pray that nanacan you have better days ahead and Itralian1 I pray that you continue to do so well. SpineAZ you are really a veteran and offer wonder insights. So everyone also keep me posted how you are doing.

 
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Old 01-12-2012, 05:31 PM   #14
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

I wore an aspen brace for 6 wk and it wasn't as bad as I thought. I'm one that hates turtlenecks but the brace sat far enough out that it wasn't an issue.

This is your chance to stop smoking PERMANENTLY. Go buy some carrot sticks and celery sticks and munch on those. Make the commitment to leave smoking behind as part of this process. Smoking during recovery WILL delay healing and can lead to a lack of fusion. So you must not smoke.
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Old 01-12-2012, 05:32 PM   #15
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Re: Cervical Fusion at 2 Levels!!! Wow

Jenny - So your surgeries have all been cervical? How many have you had? I am the type of person who scars so easily. I have a scar on my knee and one on my abdomen from some surgeries and other little ones on legs and arms but one on my neck is horrifying. I was also told to rub vitamin E on the scar. It was interesting that the list of meds such as ibuprofen not to take for 8 months was also listed no oral vitamin E.

Heck, depression hit already back in November. I had a long hard day at work today and came home in a lot of pain. But reading all your posts have brought my spirits up tonight. Lots of positive stuff and tips. I think the tips have prepared me and give me some understanding of the importance of listening to my dr after surgery. Thank you and hugs to you.

 
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