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  • travel after ACDF

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    Old 07-18-2006, 11:59 AM   #1
    laranol
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    travel after ACDF

    Hello, I'm scheduled for ACDF 7/27. It will be a single level (I think they said 6-7?) fusion with donor bone and a plate. The neurosurgeon said I will not need a collar, and recovery is usually pretty fast. He said I can travel in a car shortly after surgery. We asked about a trip we have scheduled approx 3.5 weeks after surgery -- it involves a 6hr nonstop plane flight with about 4 hrs of driving the same day as the flight. Of course there will also be time to get to the airport and get thru security, etc, so it'd be 12+ hour travel days. The NS said he thought it would be fine. Has anyone done anything similar? We also have trip scheduled 2 weeks post surgery that's a 3 hour drive, so that would be a little easier... I could stop and walk around, etc.

    Thanks for any input!

     
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    Old 07-18-2006, 12:21 PM   #2
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    Hmm - how good are you now? If you aren't that bad and they caught this in early stage maybe you'll do ok.

    My experience over 2 surgeries has been:
    I did a 2 hour car ride (each way) at week 3 , I was wearing a hard collar, i was set back a few days. The vibration and movement of the car did bother me and sometimes still does.

    I experienced an airplane ride 7 weeks after my first surgery a couple years ago and that was not pleasant, I had inreased pressure in my spine once we took off until landing so plan on taking some pain meds ahead of time.

    Of course you can do anything you put your mind to but you'll probably get fatiqued and maybe have muscle spasms or worse. Don't aggravate your condition by lifting etc. and do you really want to do this that soon? Seems like if you have a choice you would want to give it the best shot at correcting your problem (spoken from a 2 timer) . Don't underestimate this significant surgery, most people still aren't at their best after 3 weeks. I can't believe the doc didn't tell you this. Have you ever had any surgeries before? Most people delay trips and wait until their 6 week checkup. Others will weigh in here.

    Last edited by PNo; 07-18-2006 at 12:23 PM.

     
    Old 07-18-2006, 12:43 PM   #3
    dennisgb
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    I wouldn't even think of doing that.

    Your doctor is crazy or overly optimistic.

    You will be so sore, that you won't enjoy the trip...then you'll have to recover for a week when you get back.

    Don't lift any luggage!

    Good luck.

     
    Old 07-18-2006, 09:08 PM   #4
    SpineAZ
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    I suggest you ask your doctor how soon after the surgery you can do some walking. My biggest recovery problem was that I sat around for 6 weeks, only roaming around my house, and lost sooooo much physical endurance. I wish I had just walked around the block once a day with my husband.

    Also, purchase a good travel neck pillow. You are likely to fall asleep on part of the journey and you don't want your neck bobbing around in flight. I purchased one made by eagle creek and it was very good, also they have those cushy ones you can find at many stores or even in the airport.

    But, I will tell you that personally I could not have travelled anywhere in the the first 6 weeks following surgery (I was in a cervical collar and had a C5-C7 ACDF). I had originally planned to travel from AZ to South Dakota for a family reunion that was scheduled for 4 weeks after surgery and I ended up canceling. I could not picture traveling at that point. The first time I travelled was at 7 weeks and we drove 3 hours to get to our destination.

    Also, keep in mind, your NS and his/her staff likely has not had the surgery themselves. That means they really don't know how it feels to recover. The staff in my orthopedic spine surgeon's office said I'd be find to travel 4 weeks post op but I found I could not.

    That being said, you could find yourself recovering well and you may feel up to traveling. If you do please bring your medications (even if you are feeling great and don't feel you need them as you will not be able to get them when you are far from home) and pack them in your carry on luggage, not in checked baggage. Also make sure meds are in their original prescription bottles. This helps if security questions what you may be carrying and also helps should you need additional medications while traveling. You'll have the exact doses and type of medication right there on the bottle.
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    Last edited by SpineAZ; 07-18-2006 at 09:09 PM.

     
    Old 07-19-2006, 11:09 AM   #5
    ember919
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    I think that would end up being the most miserable trip of your life. I can't believe the surgeon okayed that kind of travel so soon after surgery. There is not only the being up and around and air flight and driving to consider, but most people also have lifting restrictions after surgery, no more than 10 pounds or so. And, as your body will be using lots of energy to heal, you will be utterly exhausted.

    I wanted to attend a wedding five weeks after my surgery. I had the choice of a 1-hour flight or a 4-hour drive. When I asked my surgeon about flying, he told me I could do it, but warned me not to experience any 'sudden jolts'. As if I had any choice in that? For driving, which is what I eventually chose to do, he told me to stop, get out and walk around every 30 to 60 minutes, and I did. But I paid for that trip, was in quite a bit of additional pain for almost two weeks afterwards.

    The surgery is a serious one, and you should not expect to be up to your normal level of activity for at least a couple of months.

    Surgeons always tend to downplay recovery time. Everything will be fine, but you DO need to plan time for rest and recuperation.

    I sincerely hope you have the option of rescheduling the trip.

     
    Old 07-19-2006, 01:11 PM   #6
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    I took a 5 hour car trip as a passenger two weeks after surgery and had no problem. My doctor told me I should be sure to get out and walk regularly. I got out at about the 3 hour time limit and did fine.

    I guess you need to play it by how you are feeling yourself after the surgery.

    Good luck with your surgery.

     
    Old 07-19-2006, 04:48 PM   #7
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    Hello again - I was watching this thread with curiousity myself. So it looks like so far we are at a 1 out of 5 chance that person was able to do early travel successfully or would consider it. There is also probably some correlation to how much work they actually need to do in your neck - some day we should do a big matrix study of all the people who post here. It would be interesting.

    Personally i know i am not a wimp, in fact i get blamed for doing too much all the time - For you, take the best possible care of yourself - you only get one you.

     
    Old 07-20-2006, 07:34 AM   #8
    dennisgb
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    After about two weeks I asked my doctor if I could move to my place on the lake in northern Minnesota to finish my recovery in a more peaceful and relaxing place. This was about a two hour trip. My doc told me to stop a couple of times along the way and just rest, so as to not stress myself too much.

    We did this, and I still had some difficulty with the trip, and paid for it for the first couple of days.

    I really enjoyed being in the more peaceful surroundings, and found myself walking around more, and enjoyed the time away.

    I still don't think a long airplane trip with driving afterwards is a good idea. I know at 8 weeks, I wouldn't have considered it.

     
    Old 07-20-2006, 01:58 PM   #9
    wimpette
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    My opinion is different from the others - providing you have an uneventful recovery you should be able to travel at 3.5 weeks BUT:
    DO NOT carry any luggage or even lift a bag for security inspection. Get 'assistance' at the airport so you don't have to walk long distances. Incidentally you should be walking daily immediately after your surgery, it's the best thing you can do. Also, even if you don't have to, get and use a soft collar for the trip - it provides a more comfort in the plane and car and also an added sense of security.

    So, in my opinion and having done it, go ahead and travel.

    W

     
    Old 07-20-2006, 04:34 PM   #10
    ThoreauFan
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    I was swinging golf clubs and walking on a treadmill 8 days after surgery. I don't recommend such for you or anyone else, by the way. That was my experience following a C5-C7 ACDF w/plates & BMP and it was under the supervision of physicians who knew my capabilities, limitations, and health status. I am continuing to do well.

    That said, some people have very long, difficult recoveries.

    A few things to consider in general:

    Your physician(s) will know a world more about your condition than I do.

    Someone else's experience is just that; his/her experience.

    Naturally, those who quickly resume their lives tend not to participate here.

    The studies that I have read do indeed indicate relatively fast recoveries on AVERAGE. But "average" doesn't mean anything. Nobody's recovery is "average" because each individual case is unique unto itself.

    All of that said, you may have a miserable experience, depending upon what that means to you. Surgery or no surgery, pushing portions of the human body WILL result in pain and inflammation. And it can hurt a lot.

    From my perspective, it's no different than when I was in pain for a full week after playing a game of football as a kid. I could barely make it up the stairs at school some mornings. It's part and parcel of how the human body functions.

    My suggestion: Stay home if you are not prepared for a painful experience.

    Your recovery will be YOUR recovery, and that will include ups and downs.

    Expectations play an important role in the recovery process.

    I got hooked on a Sheryl Crow CD recently. The lyric I love?

    It's not having what you want
    It's wanting what you've got


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    Old 08-22-2006, 10:18 PM   #11
    laranol
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    Re: travel after ACDF

    Just wanted to update and thank all of you for weighing in on this... it helped me make choices. I stayed in and focused on recovery for 2 weeks, then spent a day at my daughter's horse show 45 min away (a 3-4 hour total trip) which was tiring but successful. Then I hit a few of my son's baseball games, and at 3 weeks exactly made a 4 day trip to a horse show in Canada. Except for not carrying anything (waist packs are a great invention!) I felt pretty functional and did a lot of walking around the large showgrounds. I took my shaped memory foam pillow and tried to lie down for 15-30 min a few times each day.

    However, the really rigorous cross-country 14-hour travel days trip was only one day after getting back from Canada, and that sounded like too much. The rest of the family went without me and I'm resting up. I'm hoping that by alternating "normal" activity levels with rest, I can get back to a pretty normal lifestyle quickly. Kids go back to their schools in 2 weeks and I will be back to 2-4 hours of driving each day!

    Thanks again!

     
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