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Old 05-02-2012, 08:25 AM   #1
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Spinal pre-op blues.

Hiya again,
I've just had my spinal pre-op ahead of my ACDF in 19 days (and counting) and learned a little bit more that I may have already really known but maybe didn't quite take in before. Firstly that the op *really* is being done to try to stop any further myelopathy, that in my case it's not very likely that I'll see an appreciable difference in my walking afterwards and that because of the position of the disc there's a chance I may have to have a posterior approach after this if it hasn't worked to relieve the myelopathy but I won't really have any choice as things have progressed so quickly that I can't take the risk of things progressing further. On the plus side, I will get more range of movement and my arm pain is expected to lessen, oh and I get a perching stool, a wee bottle, a sock putter-onner, a giant shoe horn and a grabber! What a lovely nurse though, she made me laugh a lot and she's going to do her best to get me a good looking anaesthetist to ensure sweet dreams

 
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:35 AM   #2
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

What the nurse told you is completely true and I've written it so many times here, it should be my name. Spine surgery is done to stop any further progression of the damage and not to fix what has already happened...although in most cases, it does help if the nerve or cord can fix itself with time. That is why true recovery time is 2-3 years after surgery as the nerves and cord can continue to regenerate.

And in the neck, the chances of getting rid of numbness is 70% whereas in the lumbar, it's only 50%. Stats on getting rid of pain are very bad...only about 30%.

But having been paralyzed, I can tell you, you DON'T want that. I was lucky that most of mine healed with time but I will forever have to keep those muscles strong in order to keep them working.

As for the possible posterior surgery, you'd probably only have that one bad level done so it isn't a big deal. Both of my neck surgeries were from the back and they had to cut a lot of muscles so it is far more painful and a much longer healing process. But that was for C3 to T1 and my incision goes from the back of my head to my shoulder blades. Deal with that only when you have to.

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

 
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:47 AM   #3
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

Thanks Jenny, you know when you've heard something but a little voice inside says 'Ok, but that doesn't really apply to me?' Well, this was the case with me today. I'm having a little wallow tonight with a view to counting blessings and seeing positives tomorrow. Anyway, she said she has seen 2 people who were as bad as me have 'some' recovery, so I might just become the 3rd xxx

 
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:08 AM   #4
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

If this makes you feel any better....I had a shard of broken bone impaled in the junction of the C6 left sided nerve and my spinal cord that paralyzed me....and I fully recovered. And it was there for 27 days too(long story....no one saw it).

So if I can recover so can you! But you have to give it time. Nerves are the slowest growing cells in the body and it can take 8-10 months for one nerve to re-connect and start working again(and it tells you it has re-connected with pain!). So you have to be a patient patient!

I started Vit. B complex vitamins after surgery as B's are needed for nerve health and I'm going to ask my doc about starting a drug for peripheral neuropathy that helped me after my broken neck. And then you slowly but surely exercise the affected areas so that the nerve signals can start flowing again....you may have to teach your legs how to walk normally again. Physio is your best friend after spine surgery of any kind.

But a positive attitude may be your best bet on achieving a full recovery.

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

 
Old 05-02-2012, 10:40 AM   #5
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

You guys are so spot on, I love it. Being able to talk to people that are dealing with similar issues and knowing what you are all talking about.

I had to have surgery for all the same reasons, to stop the progression of damage that was done; and to also prevent paralysis. Most people think the surgery will fix them completely. That's not true, I still have symptoms/pain, but the progression of the disease was stopped, and the pain was drastically reduced. Not being at risk for paralysis is a plus. In the end, because I waited so long to have the surgery, I have permanent damage to my spinal cord, and will always have some discomfort.

 
Old 05-02-2012, 11:13 AM   #6
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

Thanks guys, I think what took me aback was hearing her say that the benefits of the operation were for me very slight, that it was hopefully going to stop further damage and that was that, I was surprised to hear her say it so bluntly, but I suppose she has to be blunt otherwise there'd be a lot of unhappy people with myelopathy wondering why they weren't jumping off the operating table. I will deffo try the B vits and will keep as positive as I can, God knows, I have 4 children to look after and there can be fewer better motivations. xxx

 
Old 05-02-2012, 11:32 AM   #7
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

I agree being blunt is so much better than giving false hope. Honesty goes so much further in the long run. Good luck on your surgery. I'm sure you'll come through it like a trooper! We're all here rooting for you! Are your kids old enough to help you during recovery?

 
Old 05-02-2012, 11:50 AM   #8
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

Thanks Kenzi, two are old enough (15 and 16yr old boys) and two aren't really (8 and 5 year old girls), the 16 year old takes his GCSEs this year and needs to concentrate on them as he wants to study medicine, the 15 year old cooked last night and the littlies 'helped' make pizza this evening. To be honest I'm going to mainly be relying on help from friends and family (when they can visit) but I'm hopeful we'll muddle through...that said I just had to go in and break up a fight between the 15 and the 8) Ah well, we'll see xxx

 
Old 05-02-2012, 12:11 PM   #9
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raichyrae View Post
Thanks guys, I think what took me aback was hearing her say that the benefits of the operation were for me very slight, that it was hopefully going to stop further damage and that was that, I was surprised to hear her say it so bluntly, but I suppose she has to be blunt otherwise there'd be a lot of unhappy people with myelopathy wondering why they weren't jumping off the operating table. I will deffo try the B vits and will keep as positive as I can, God knows, I have 4 children to look after and there can be fewer better motivations. xxx
Good luck with the surgery. Myelopathy sucks-I'm glad I had the surgery because even though I might never be back to where I was before it happened at least I'm not going to get any worse. I'm also glad I didn't wait to have it done when the surgeon suggested it considering how quickly it was progressing from day to day. In my case the damage was minimal thank God.

 
Old 05-02-2012, 12:21 PM   #10
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

I have a 15 and soon to be 17 year old + my husband. They were all so helpful during my recoveries. They were 9 and 11 when I had my first surgery and they were still very helpful. You'd be surprised how they rally around when Mom is really down. Mine totally surprised me with how much they did for me and cared for me during each of my recoveries.

Raich--what type of medicine does your 16 year old want to study? My daughter wants to be a Veterinarian, she's said this since she was very very young. She's been taking her high school classes with an emphasis on sciences and maths. This past year, our Veterinarian has her coming into the office and shadowing him and any of the Vets at the practice while they examine patients, fills prescriptions, interpret x-rays, etc. He's been teaching her for the last 4 months, and she loves it. He's guiding her in the classes she needs to take, and in the Summer, he's going to have her come in more frequently and wants her to sit in during surgeries, that's what she's really interested in doing. We were in the Vets office a little over a week ago, one of my dogs needed surgery, and they all told us how much they enjoy having her there; the Vet said she's so easy to teach and absorbs and retains everything. Sorry I went off topic, your post and talking about your kids really sounds like my family....LOL

You'll be fine after surgery. Since they are not cutting your hip, the recovery shouldn't be too bad. The worst for me was the inability to move around because of my hip. It took a good 2 months before I was able to put any significant weight on that leg. The incision he made in my neck never bothered me. The one thing that really hurt was across my upper back around the shoulder area and the sides of my head. They put traction on me in the OR so that it opened spaces in the spine. I had 25 lbs of traction for 5 hours, my upper back really hurt; and they put the tongs from the traction on the sides of my head, they were very sore too. They did give me pain meds., and muscle relaxers for that, but it took time for that to ease up. Also, do you drink coffee? I got a horrible headache from not having coffee the day of surgery and the day after....caffeine withdrawal. I made sure they gave me coffee as soon as I was awake enough to have it, I didn't get a headache this last time. Also, make sure they give you stool softeners, the first time, I didn't and OMG, the first bowel movement was so painful. Felt like I was trying to push a brick out. The next 2 surgeries I made sure I got stool softeners, worked like a charm, no problems. I'm trying to remember all the things I wish I would have known. So far, that's all I can think of, if I remember anything else, I'll let you know.

Last edited by NJ Ldy; 05-02-2012 at 12:22 PM.

 
Old 05-02-2012, 12:35 PM   #11
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

He doesn't know yet, hopefully NOT neurosurgery...I've seen him take watches to bits and not remember where the bits went I wanted to do Veterinary science but I was no way near clever enough at the sciences, good luck to your daughter, what an amazing profession she's going into!
Coffee...oh yes, that will be an issue for me...as will no facebook !!!! You also just reminded me I forgot to ask about stool softeners, I had best buy some just in case. I love this board, I really do

 
Old 05-02-2012, 12:48 PM   #12
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

I have a question for those of you who have already gone through surgery...

How do you wash your hair post op? Are you able to lift your arms to do it or what? I have long hair.

 
Old 05-02-2012, 01:10 PM   #13
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

LOL not neurosurgery...too funny! I'm sure if that was his chosen path, he would remember where those bits belong!!! I'm glad I told you about the coffee, that was a killer for me. I wish someone had told me that. There wasn't a pain medication I took that alleviated that caffeine headache. Tell your NS to make sure you get stool softeners while you're in the hospital, that will start the process; and yes, get a bottle to take when you get home. That anesthesia combined with pain medicine really binds you up.

I was so weak and tired when I first came home, I only did sponge baths. My hair was down to my shoulders when I had the first surgery, I just put it up in a ponytail. I really didn't care if I washed it or not. When I finally had enough strength to get into the shower, I think it was the 2nd week being home, I was able to wash my hair. My arms did feel heavy, and you really can't move your head around, but you manage to wash yourself and your hair. But, doing that really wipes your energy and that was all I could do all day. I was back in bed after the shower.

Last edited by Administrator; 09-25-2012 at 03:18 AM.

 
Old 05-02-2012, 01:57 PM   #14
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kenzibenzi View Post
I have a question for those of you who have already gone through surgery...

How do you wash your hair post op? Are you able to lift your arms to do it or what? I have long hair.
I had my hair cut very short before surgery. In the shower I had I shower stool which I sat on instead of standing up. I also have a handheld shower that I use.

 
Old 05-02-2012, 01:59 PM   #15
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Re: Spinal pre-op blues.

One of the first things I did after my neck surgeries was wash my hair. I got a shower stool/chair to sit on and they gave me "shower shields" to cover my incision. That hot water never felt so good. Mind you, mine were both from the back so they shaved the back of my head then tapped the rest of my hair up so I had tape residue in my hair and just had to get it out. But it did cut down on the volume of hair I had to wash. But you can do the shower shield on the front of the neck(plastic sheet with adhesive across the top to keep the water off the incision). You just sit there and do what you can but I had hubby come in and help me too. I just needed to be clean and that included my hair!

If your arms are weak, you should have someone right in the bathroom with you in case you have problems getting in and out of the tub and if you trust them, have them wash your hair and then you sit and rinse as long as you want.

And a big thumbs up on the stool softener. Anesthesia is constipating and depending on the pain med they use, they can be constipating too(especially Dilaudid). This past surgery the doc ordered prescription strength stool softeners and I needed them with surgery that low in the back that included fixing some incontinence problems.

However, if you get diarrhea after surgery, you may have an antibiotic related colitis(you get antibiotics during and after surgery) and it needs to be reported to your doc. I got it about 10 days post-op this time from using Clindamycin. Went from needing a Rx strength stool softener to diarrhea in about 3 days time. Fix one problem and then get another. At least it stopped on it's own after a few days but my doc watched me carefully.

And you need to watch your temp so have a thermometer at home. I was supposed to report any temp over 101* but I had temps of over 101* for several days after the 2 earlier surgeries so I let it go...but they will tell you if you need to report it. I didn't this time...just didn't feel like 6 hours on the road only to be told...you did this last time too!

You will get a long list of do's and don'ts......like how long to wear a collar and that is one thing you have to obey. It can be crucial. Whether it's a soft collar or hard brace, you wear it until they say it can come off. Your recovery can depend on it.

Unlike most of you, I had an experimental bone putty used on my neck and I will be seeing my NS for as long as he is in practice and probably his younger associates once he retires. It has to be watched carefully....especially since the FDA killed it for release due to so many post-op deaths when it was used in the neck. Worked on me but now I am committed to having it watched for life...just in case.

And one more comment on what they tell you before surgery. When my NS saw that piece of bone impaled in my neck(just before surgery), he told me my left arm would be paralyzed for life. I told him...not if I had any say about it. And I was right. He was very glad to be wrong.

I think they set us up for the minimal good outcome and then hope it will be much better so we are pleased. So take what the doc's and nurses said with a grain of salt. My doc gave me a 50/50 chance of having any improvement after this lumbar surgery and I could feel the difference by 2am the next morning. Once again, gave me the stats so I wouldn't be upset if I got nothing back but I was determined to make it work. I truly believe that a positive attitude is what helps me heal when my doc says I won't.

I beat almost fatal child abuse....a bad spine is child's play to me!

hugs to all....good conversation......Jenny

 
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