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Old 09-19-2012, 12:42 PM   #1
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4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Oh man, I'm nervous...this seems like a lot but I know it's needed, and I'm only 39. It's just happening fast; I expected to go in today to discuss setting up surgery for November. Next thing you know I'm registering for surgery in the hospital. The good thing is is my orthopedic spinal surgeon is the Chief Spinal Surgeon at Baylor Medical in Dallas, has done thousands of surgeries, and told me that I would be able to return to work within two weeks. He has a 5-star review from every patient review I can find online for those who have had surgery under him. So I'm in great hands. I'm just scared. Seems like a LOT has to be done - C2-3, C4-5, 5-6, 6-7!!!

Any words of encouragement?

Last edited by gav_73; 09-19-2012 at 02:07 PM.

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:34 AM   #2
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

I don't think you'll be going to work in 2 weeks. Your surgeon's hilarious when he says that. I had a 2 level acdf and I had to stay out of work for 6 weeks. I know how crappy I felt after 2 weeks and you're having a 4 level one? yeah, you'll be back at work in 2 weeks

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:03 AM   #3
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Hi ~ Tomorrow will be a week since I had a 3 level ACDF C4-7. The type of work you do, will probably dictate how long your off. I couldnt imagine going back to work next week, even to a desk job. The first couple of days at home were pretty rough, but now it's not too bad. Not being able to wash my hair has been a big bother. I've had a few visitors, and have had to tell them, "don't hug me", because of my hair. The adult sized wipes (found in the depends aisle) are great for a sponge bath. Also some shower powder helps.

The best thing I've found so far is my dear hubby, he's been such a big help. also. Encore the surgery, I putt all my shower/toiletries on top of the vanity/counter. Same in the kitchen, so I won't have to bend over, or bother my hubby.

A lot of the suggestions about what to have/do for after surgery that I found here have been spot on. The men's silk handkerchief to put between your skin and collar, is really a good idea. I live outside of Phoenix, and its still quite hot outside. I found that the pain meds make me itch a lot too, and the silk feels so much better against your skin,than the padding on the collar does.

Lots of pillows, of different size/firmness is also good. It's hard to lie flat, so I've been sleeping almost sitting up. I have a iPad, so a couple of smaller pillows in my lap allow me to use it, without having to look down.

Soft foods. My throat didn't really start to swell until a couple of days after surgery. Right now I can only swallow applesauce, pudding, etc. So I'm probably not getting a lot of protein. My postoperative is wednesday, so I'm going to ask if I should get some protein kes. V8 light is good too.

One of those"grabber" things work really well too. It seems like I fall asleep with stuff in my hands, or drop things unexpectedly. I hate to keep bothering my husband all the time, so the grabber makes me feel a little more independent.

 
Old 09-24-2012, 01:48 PM   #4
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Hey there. Well, as far as being well enough to go back to work in 2 weeks, I was totally surprised as well when he said that and I jumped on the next available.

He's the chief of spinal surgery at Baylor hospital; I read 60 independent (not on his website) post-surgical reviews from patients who seemed to have very quick recoveries (although the surgical and level of surgical procedures they were reviewing were not included). So I jumped on the next available as it is the perfect time for me during the year to take off (first quarter of the fiscal year; I am a financial analyst and auditor for a very large company in Dallas), and my sister-in-law was available on the fly to come to watch my daughter for a week while I get over the major hump of recovery (my husband will be working most of the day). I did read lots of posts on ACDF recovery on this board and bought all the post-surgical "must haves" for my house (wedge pillow, ice packs, heating pad, grabber, back scratcher, rubber mat for bath and handles, etc). Got plenty of pain meds to get me through a couple weeks, although he said he'd be surprised if I needed them after a week.

I guess all I can do is take his advice and reassurance about recovery and hope for the best. Does anyone know how long the actual surgery takes for this level of ACDF? Also, I have lots of bone spurs in both the front (nearest to my throat) and back of the spinal column (nearest to my spinal cord). These are questions of course I'll ask tomorrow, but do you know if they will be able to remove/shave off the posterior osteophytes during an ACDF as well as the anterior one. When I say posterior, I am not referring to the bones that you can feel from the back of your neck, but the ones on the same vertebra that will be fused in the front, but on the back side of the plate. Am I even making sense? LOL

Also, what is the first night in the hospital like? Does everyone have the "sore throat" and trouble swallowing? I've made preparations and bought the throat spray and soft foods for home; but is this always the case, particularly for a 4-level ACDF? I'm only having one fusion at the top and 3 at the bottom. He said he's going to do two smaller incisions rather than the one big one, like two different surgeries. And what causes the sore throat and difficulty swallowing in the first place?

Thanks for responding!!! Surgery is tomorrow!!! (O.o)

 
Old 09-24-2012, 01:53 PM   #5
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Also, I wanted to add that I'm not being unrealistic in my expectations for going back to work and sitting at a computer all day, as well as the commute. I plan to bring my hard collar and take plenty of breaks from sitting throughout the day. Just wanted to say that...

 
Old 09-24-2012, 03:59 PM   #6
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

My surgery for 3 level ACDF was scheduled for 3 hrs. It ended up being 4.5. Dr said that was because of a lot of arthritis (bone spurs osteophytes). I haven't had a sore throat, but have had a lot of trouble swallowing anything thicker than pudding, and applesauce. I was doing better, then yesterday it seemed like I had more swelling today. I can swallow my meds, but only in a spoonful of applesauce. Even water, if I drink it too fast, it starts to come back up. I know they move the esophagus to one side, so they can get to the discs. If your up to it there some videos of the surgery on utube. I think my trouble swallowing is from the hardware. I can feel it rubbing when I swallow.

I'm taking about 1/2 the pain meds, that I started on, and seem pretty comfortable. I'm still not able to lie flat to sleep, just propped up on pillows. I find that when I'm tired, I have to sleep, right then. I'm taking at least 2/3 naps a day. More than my grand kids..lol but now I'm sleeping at least 6hrs at night, so hopefully as I sleep more at night, the naps will stop.

I was really out of it the night of the surgery. But once I was home, I've improved every day. Everyone is different. If your ok with it, and your Dr says its ok, then go ahead and go back to work.

 
Old 09-25-2012, 07:56 PM   #7
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gav_73 View Post
Also, I wanted to add that I'm not being unrealistic in my expectations for going back to work and sitting at a computer all day, as well as the commute. I plan to bring my hard collar and take plenty of breaks from sitting throughout the day. Just wanted to say that...
Yes you are being unrealistic and once you have to wear that collar 24/7 you'll realize that. Sitting in front a computer for 8 hours? Sure. Even if you take plenty of breaks from sitting throughout the day I guarantee you that your body is still going be tired.

I had my surgery in Jan and I still get a cramped neck when I use the computer for too long.

Yeah, let us know how it goes. You can't legally drive with a hard collar on because it restricts your neck movement. So I hope you have another way to get to work.

If you go into the surgery with a TRULY realistic approach and attitude you won't be surprised when you can NOT do the things that your surgeon said you could. Luckily for me my surgeon never sugar coated the surgery or the recovery so I knew what to expect. It's amazing to me how many people don't and then they whine and complain after they do something they shouldn't have done and it set them back or caused major pain.

I don't care what you surgeon is-he sounds like an idiot. Back to work 2 weeks after a 4 level acdf? Yeah, let us know how that one goes.

Last edited by Realhousewife; 09-25-2012 at 08:01 PM.

 
Old 09-25-2012, 08:00 PM   #8
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nittany168 View Post
I think my trouble swallowing is from the hardware. I can feel it rubbing when I swallow.
I don't think it's normal to feel the hardware.

 
Old 09-25-2012, 08:13 PM   #9
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Realhousewife View Post
I don't think it's normal to feel the hardware.
. I have my first post op visit tomorrow, I'll be sure to ask. Maybe it's just some swelling, but I def feel something when I swallow.

 
Old 09-29-2012, 08:12 PM   #10
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Well, I'm about 5 days post-op and it seems to have been a successful operation. While I'm by no means saying it's been easy or I'm fully recovered or anything crazy, but I think it's going pretty well for a 4-level ADCF (coming from someone who's never known anyone who's had it done).

So after waking up from surgery (3.5 hours), doc came in and told me that the discs and problem areas looked much worse "in person" than they did on the MRI and while a 4 level ACDF is typically unusual for my age (39), he seemed reassured of the aggressiveness of what we had chosen to do. He said I looked like a 70/80 year old in there.

Was in pretty bad pain during my overnight stay at the hospital
and they couldn't give me enough meds. The doc added Valium to the mix because I was very tense and the tension from the pain was adding to it and I couldn't relax. My shoulders hurt or more than anything and the valium seemed to help a lot. Upon returning home I discovered that my bed wedge hadn't been delivered yet so I had to use stacked pillows and it isn't recommended. The pillows move throughout the day and night and I've woken up many times making adjustments while in pain - not fun! Lifting my head up without anything supporting it even for a few seconds was excruciating!

Now it's Saturday and things have progressively gotten better, and I very hopeful for a return to work within the next 9-11 days. My biggest worry is being able to comfortably stop taking all meds before then. One other thing that seems unusual is the left side of my neck where my two incisions are. They are healing very nicely and I don't have external stitches or staples; they used that surgical glue stuff so you can really see the healing. But I have a very large area of swelling on the entire left side starting under my jaw bone to my collar bone to the middle of my trachea. Is this anything to be concerned about or just typical healing and swelling from the site of the surgery?

Other than that, that's what my first 5 day postoperative recovery news. I'm pretty pleased.

 
Old 10-05-2012, 01:17 PM   #11
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gav_73 View Post

Other than that, that's what my first 5 day postoperative recovery news. I'm pretty pleased.
I'm glad everything is going well for you. Hopefully you will be able to go back to work when you plan to. Just don't overdo it and listen to your body. You have a great attitude which will help a lot with the healing.

As for the bed wedge I had one of those too but found it very uncomfortable. Most people who have an ACDF sleep in a recliner post op-it's so much better than trying to sleep in a bed. For one thing you don't have to log roll yourself in and out of it and there's no worry about pillows slipping.

I think swelling is typical after any surgery. When I had my feet done both were twice the size. Same goes for my knee. I have no idea about my neck because I wore a collar 24/7.

 
Old 10-08-2012, 11:18 AM   #12
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Re: 4-level cervical ACDF next Tuesday - YIKES!

Thanks!! Well everything was going perfectly until a couple days ago. I wish I had listened more to everyone's advice to "take it easy and not overdo it." we'll, I was feeling pretty good - off pain Meds, able to drive, walking wherever and for however long I liked, etc. Since I had missed so much time with my 2 yo daughter, when I felt well enough driving and doing light activities I decided to take her "shopping" and to play at Dave and Buster's at the mall. I had also been experiencing lots of new issues with my vision - not because of surgery (although I'm sure exacerbated by pain pills), and decided to stop as a walk-in the see the eye doc. They took me in and after the exam and buying glasses an hour trip out turned into almost 5 hours. After 4 hours of carrying my purse and bags I thought I was going to die! I started having excruciating burning pain in my shoulders (mostly my right but sometimes both). I thought I had totally screwed myself up. Ever since then any activity that takes more than 30 mins causes the "flare up" again. I am certainly changing purses. Its so heavy with so much crap I just can't handle it. When it flares up I immediately rest, but require some pain pills and a Valium, which really seems to help. My saving grace (I hope) is that it only comes and goes when I'm out and about, but not at all at home and taking it easy. I know I'm only two weeks out, and I feel ready to go back to work and all that. But I am so scared that I have permanently screwed it up. Any ideas or advice? I put in a call to my doc today so still waiting to discuss the specifics. Eeeeek!!!!

 
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