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  • 3 level ACDF 7/11/12, then lumbar fusion

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    Old 07-04-2012, 12:19 AM   #1
    SunshineKitty
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    3 level ACDF 7/11/12, then lumbar fusion

    Hi,
    I've been lurking on the board for a while, but decided it was time to introduce myself & ask a few questions!

    Please forgive my wordiness, I'm detailed to begin with, I don't want to bore my friends who are still living their normal lives (and most have no idea what I'm talking about when I say ACDF unless I explain it lol), and I've been on medical leave since 11/1/11 when I had my accident, so I type a LOT! Feel free to skim, I won't hold it against you!

    I'll start with questions for those of you who don't want to read my novella of a back story

    QUESTIONS:
    1.) Which grabber should I buy? Is the $10 grabber at walgreens just as good as the $30 grabber found elsewhere, or should I spring for the expensive one/will the hospital or ins company give me one?

    2.) How long did it take you after ACDF to start feeling human again? If your ACDF was multiple levels, how long were you in the hospital, and did you have spinal cord compression?

    3.) How long did it take you to determine whether the surgery successfully relieved the spinal cord compression issues or if the problems the compression caused were permanent? (both of my hands and the left arm from the elbow down go numb)

    4.) Was there anything you wished someone had told you before your surgery that you discovered post op?

    5.) If you experienced swallowing issues, how long did they last, and were your issues with thin liquids, solids, or both?

    6.) What items were most useful for you post op, or what did you wish you had during your recovery?

    So back story - I slipped on a wet stair case 10/31/11, landed flat on my tush & blew up my back - all of the lumbar facets are shot as well as both SI joints. I went through the usual conservative treatments - Caudal ESI, SI injections, facet injections, blocks, 5 level bi lateral RFA, PT, pain mgmt, etc etc etc.

    I was finally referred to a neurosurgeon to discuss fusing my lumbar & SI joints, and saw him 10 weeks later, on May 25(he is one of the only fellowship trained complex spine neurosurgeons in the area, and is amazing). When his PA started my initial evaluation, she became concerned as soon as she tapped my knees - they were hyper reflexive, so she checked a few other things & became more convinced that there was a spinal cord issue. I was sent for a RUSH MRI, and booked for a follow up with the neurosurgeon the following day (I knew something was wrong when they got me in that quickly!).

    The PA's suspicions were right - my cervical spine is shot, C4-C7 are completely collapsed & compressing the spinal cord, the most serious is C6-7, which is pushing about half way through the cord, and my neck is now straight rather than curved. I'm grateful she caught it, otherwise there was a very strong chance I would have been paralyzed from the neck down during intubation for the lumbar fusion! Having the ACDF was a no brainer - 1.) I really want my lumbar fixed & can't without it, and 2.) the ACDF poses a 5% risk, vs the 100% chance I'll be paralyzed at some point in the future without it thanks to the cord compression.

    I'm having 3 level ACDF with plates, screws, bone marrow aspirate and cadaver bone as wedges to get the curve back next Wednesday (July 11, 2012). Because of the cord compression, they won't be able to intubate me, and I'll have something called Awake Fiber Optic Technique, and will be awake for a portion of the surgery so that I can tell them if they are causing any spinal cord/nerves issues/tingles (or something like that lol). Once they've passed that point, they'll knock me out completely & complete the surgery.

    I've been told that I'll spend at least the first night after surgery in ICU, followed by at least 3 days on a neuro/spine ward, will be in a hard collar for 6 weeks (then weaned off), will start PT around week 8, and once I'm all healed, we'll do the lumbar fusion - L4-S1 for sure, possibly L2-S2, depending on what he finds & additional testing prior to that surgery, and then (cuz that isn't enough?!), we'll look at fusing at least the right SI joint, possibly both (I'm thorough - this is one time half assing something would have been nice! )

    My future MIL is flying in on Sunday to take care of me (and her son) after the surgery - luckily she's a lovely woman, and I adore her so I'm happy to have her coming down! She's also going to come down for the lumbar fusion, and understands that this is going to be a long road - she was fused from T5-S2 in a 360 procedure 4 years ago (nasty scoliosis), and it has been wonderful to have her to talk to about what I'm going through since she has been there & understands!

    Before the accident, I was extremely active - I worked 40+ hours per week doing something I love, practiced yoga 5+ days per week, walked our 2 dogs 3-5miles most days, did ballet isometric exercises 3x/wk, cooked elaborate meals most nights, went out with friends - I talked & walked fast because I was always doing something! I still talk fast, but now I walk slowly with a cane and a limp (SI joint + numbness in feet + leg drop), am not allowed to walk the dogs, do yoga or ballet, can't work or make anything that requires more than 10minutes at a time in the kitchen, can barely go grocery shopping, even with the use of an electric cart, my house is a mess, and I've gained 60lbs My NS has given me clearance to diet after the ACDF (he wants the weight off before the lumbar surgery, too!), but I'm not sure how I'm going to do it without the benefit of exercise - I'm only cleared for aqua therapy, and even that is limited to walking in the water lol

    My boyfriend has been amazing throughout this whole ordeal - he's taken over the majority of the grocery shopping and cooking (he's getting better at it!), he works full time, takes care of me and our family of animals (2 dogs, 1 cat), and has been an absolute rock - our house may not be as clean as it was when I was "normal", and our dinners might not be as fancy, but I realize how lucky I am to have him, and am grateful for his unwavering love, support and sense of humor every day!

    That's my story in a really big nutshell - I'll try to be less wordy next time

     
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    Old 07-04-2012, 09:57 AM   #2
    teteri66
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    Re: 3 level ACDF 7/11/12, then lumbar fusion

    Hi and welcome to the board. It's amazing how life can change in the blink of an eye. Hopefully you will soon be on the road to recovery and, with your attitude, I imagine they will have to hold you down to keep you from doing too much too soon.

    I can't give you any personal information pertaining to cervical surgery as my three have all been lumbar. But I can answer a couple questions and let you know that there is a second back board called "Spinal Cord Disorders" that is many populated with those who have cervical spine issues.

    Regarding the grabber, some do work better than others. It's more a matter of checking them out, rather than a buying by price point.

    Some insurance companies will pay for everything, including rental of a hospital bed, raised toilet seat, etc. I purchased one well before my first surgery so never found out if it was covered. They will provide a walker at hospital for when you leave.

    Did you notice the "stickie note" near the top of the back board page entitled "Post-Surgery Must-Haves?" It is a compilation of tips and things people have found helpful to have post-surgery. Most of it is geared toward lumbar fusions and much of it is not necessary, but it is helpful to read through the thread as it gets you thinking about what life will be like after surgery. Remember to read through it prior to your lumbar fusion surgery.

    I wish you the best of luck. Come back when you have your lumbar surgery. I will be able to help you with those issues.

     
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    Old 07-04-2012, 09:47 PM   #3
    SunshineKitty
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    Re: 3 level ACDF 7/11/12, then lumbar fusion

    Hi Teteri - thank you for your response! I have a running list of things from the post it here & one on another spine board, but as you said most of it seems to pertain to lumbar fusions, and while I'll need those things in a few months, I'm not sure what I'll need for the ACDF

    I'll definitely check out the spinal cord board group to see if they can give me more info as well, and I will be asking you more questions when the lumbar fusion draws near. I do have a quick question about it already - during my last appt with the neurosurgeon, I asked him about what will be done when we start working on the lumbar (I like to research & plan so that I can come to terms with whatever it is that's going on!), and he told me he will do an incision from the side, place cages (both front & back), rods & screws, and will be using a combination of methods depending on what he finds when he gets in there. Does this sound like ALIF, TLIF, XLIF, 360, or something else?! I forgot to ask, and now I don't know which procedure to research lol

    Hope you've had a happy & safe 4th of July!

     
    Old 07-04-2012, 10:48 PM   #4
    teteri66
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    Re: 3 level ACDF 7/11/12, then lumbar fusion

    ALIF goes in from the front. If you are having L5-S1 fused, it will not be XLIF as they cannot do it at that low a level. Probably what he is talking about is the TLIF that may be all he needs to do, or he will then go in from the back, too.

    There are some well-informed people on the Spinal Cord board who will be able to answer your questions. I could give you some information, but I think it's best to talk to people who have been through it.

     
    Old 07-04-2012, 11:14 PM   #5
    sammieismylab
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    Re: 3 level ACDF 7/11/12, then lumbar fusion

    I mean this in the best of ways, in away you have made me feel less scared of my surgery on 7/12/12. I hope this doesn't affen you. LOL. You sound like you have a great personality. I wish you the lotter on all your surgerys. My best friend husband has a compressed spinal cored. He had surgery, but a week later he got bored and went out and mowed the lawn. He hurt him self and there is nothing they can do for him. He will be paralyzed with in the year. I keep tell her that there has to be some doctor out there to help him, but he has given up. I was as active as you were. I have a slipped disc. L4-5 it hurts to sit, but latly it hurts to lay down and my hips now. It goes into my buttocks not down my leg thank god. I will be looking for your post. Maybe your doctor can help my best friend husband. I am in Southern California. You take good care. Don't do any thing. That will be the hardest thing for US not to do. I ran, surfed, yoga, walked 4 Labs, now nothing unless I am drugged out. Thank you for your wordie story. I thought it was interesting .

     
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    Old 07-05-2012, 11:35 AM   #6
    SunshineKitty
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    Re: 3 level ACDF 7/11/12, then lumbar fusion

    LOL I'm not offended at all Sammy - in fact, I'm glad I could help you feel less nervous about your upcoming surgeries
    If your friends husband is open to traveling to FL for surgery, I can give you my neurosurgeon's information - he did his fellowship in complex spine surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, and also has a masters in mechanical engineering. He's pretty awesome, great at what he does, and has a wonderful bedside manner - I wouldn't want anyone else doing my surgeries

     
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