HealthBoards (
-   Spinal Cord Disorders (
-   -   It's my turn now.... ACDF time! (

moonchaser 06-22-2007 08:49 AM

It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
I had my 2nd opinion with a "conservative" neurosurgeon day before yesterday. The doctor recommended a 2 level ACDF for c5/6 and c6/7. He said it would be best to go ahead and take care of them both at the same time. He seemed positive that I could get some relief from the pain and neuro symptoms.

I find it ironic that he was supposed to be the more conservative of the two neurosurgeons my Physical Rehab doctor sent me too. The first doctor recommended a one level so I could have a faster recovery period. She then joked she'd see me in about two years to do the other. My doc didn't like that idea and agrees that I should probably do the two level.

So now the reality of "oh my gosh they're going to cut me open and take out my discs" is setting in. I know not to be scared, but apprehensive is probably a good word! I haven't scheduled it yet - I'm trying to figure out how to fit it in to my work schedule. The NS' initial thoughts are 1 night hospitalization, and 2-4 weeks off work. No collar, and probably a few trips to PT afterwards.

I'm bummed that the verdicts are in, but sort of relieved at the same time if that makes sense. Any post-op tips and advice will be appreciated and listened to!


julyg 06-22-2007 01:20 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
I had same surgery 8 months ago and my opinion is if you need to get it done, do it with one surgery. I will never go through it again.

I went back to work full time after 3 weeks but still today I am no where near where I was pre-surgry activtity level.

I was hiking (8 hrs daily) in the rockies 2 months prior
to surgery, yes with hellacious spasms but still active. This surgery wiped me out! I had a good amount of bone spurs removed but still exact discs you are mentioning.

I am fusing well, but I am not about to hike or boat or do anything that will interfere with my healing. Dr says fusing takes up to 1 yr.

I am not going to joing the multiple ACDF club!

Good luck


DELTA 22 06-22-2007 05:50 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
plan on 4 weeks off work or more. I had three levels done may 30th ...and I still cant do alot..even sitting up without head support for very long...I think doctors play down recovery time.

poopoopadoop 06-22-2007 05:53 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
Yeah, I had one level done 2 mos ago and really needed a good 3 wks. With 2 levels, it would be hard to go back sooner. I wish you all the best. You will feel relieved to get it over with.


SKZ 06-22-2007 06:08 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
I had the same ACDF surgery as you will have. I am DEFINITELY better than before the surgery. Its not a panacea, but it does seem to help many people. I didnt wear a collar and am real happy about that. Those collars really sound horrible to me. I am going for my 6 month check up in July. I BETTER be fusing. I would definitely not have done it 2 separate times. I think its much better to do it all at once.

BobM 06-22-2007 08:33 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
Hi Moonchaser:
I think the best thing is to find Drs and Surgeons that you trust, and then take their advice. My surgeon 'decides' which levels for ACDF based on neuro symptoms as well as MRI images. I have the misfortune to have bad discs at C4/5/6/7/8 - in 2004 I had ACDF on C5/6/7, and in 2005 I was back to get C4/5 done, and have the prospect of more to fix C7/8, and the C3/4 level is showing degeneration that was not there several years ago.

I took 6 weeks off from work (I do engineering, so lots of desk & computer work - not heavy labor, but stressful on the neck) each time. The first time, with two levels, I needed the full 6 weeks. The second time was only 1 level, and I arranged for 6 weeks again, but could have gone back earlier.

Best advice for post op is to keep a positive mental attitude, get back on your feet and start walking as soon as you can, and take everything slow and easy - the size of the incision can be misleading since they are typically small, but it is major surgery nevertheless.

I will never get back to 100%, but I am so much better off for having had the surgery, even if I did have to have another one so soon after the first.

Good Luck!

julie10 06-22-2007 10:57 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
My ACDF was done Jan 2nd, same two levels as yours. I agree with everyone here - once and done (we/you hope!). My job requires me to sit at a computer the majority of the day, and I just couldn't do it for almost 2 months. I did start back to work part time the beginning of March. Still having some issues, having some more tests done to see if there is another level involved, bone spur in there, or if I just need to wait it out and see if my nervous system settles down. I was naive: I was told I needed surgery on Dec 20th due to severe cord compression. It was over the holidays - I didn't have time to do any research! I didn't find this board until after, but there is alot of valuable info here. My two best tips for post-care: bendy straws and a recliner for sleeping! Oh, and one more: take your painkillers! I took myself off way to early, thinking I only needed it for the first handful of days. My NS at my first follow up 2 weeks after surgery looked at me like I was crazy! So...better living through chemicals, I guess, but it's just temporary. Best Wishes to you.

Tulip15 06-23-2007 11:45 AM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
I would have them both done at the same time, I had my first ACDF on C6-7 on 11/2004 at that time my C5-6 was showing signs of being done, but my surgeon said the least amount of fusions the bettter and lets just cross our fingers and hope that C5-6 could wait a long time, well after my C6-7 about 6 months after my C5-6 started causing all kinds of problems, I wound up back in surgery in 9/2006 having C5-6 and it was a completely collapsed disk, I really wished that he would have done them both at the same time.
Good Luck.

moonchaser 06-24-2007 06:52 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
Thanks for all the shared experiences and advice. I am definitely going to do the 2 level surgery. I can't imagine ever wanting to go through this a second time, especially when it looks like it's inevitable to begin with. I phoned my doc to tell her I was going with option #2. Her nurse told me that the NS I chose doesn't just like to cut, and that if he recommends surgery, I probably really do need it.

I met an Internal medicine doctor Friday night at a mutual friend's social gathering. He asked what type of surgery I was going to do as he overheard me talking to another person ( I had no idea another doctor was there!) He wasn't exactly re-assuring and was kind of sarcastically natured, but I was interested in his thoughts. I told him they told me I'd be off work 4 weeks and more importantly could resume riding horses again in 8 weeks. He laughed and told me they were being overly enthusiastic. He said I won't see the back of a horse for probably a year. :( I hope not! I will be so disappointed if that's the case.

So I'm going to stock up on bendy straws. What will be hard for me is that I live in this town by myself. The closest family member is an hour away. My mother will stay with me initially, but I hope to send her home after the first two days. I love her, but she is so negative in nature. When my Aunt had a hysterectomy, she tried to take away her pain meds after she got home because she was afraid she'd get addicted. She did the same thing to me when I had my wisdom teeth out. I'm completely convinced she'll do the same with this. So I hope I don't need strong meds, cause I probably will have to argue to get them. She means well, but I hope to be able to stay by myself right away.

I will try to get friends to pick up groceries or stuff for me. I don't know what I'll do about the lawn yet, but I'll figure it out. I was told I won't be able to pick up anything heavier than a coffee cup for the first few weeks! So I don't know how I'll do laundry, household chores, etc. There's so much to think about before hand. I joked with my hairdresser that I'd plan an appointment with her to get a haircut and highlight right before surgery. I was joking, but now that I start realizing some of the real implications, it's probably not a bad idea!

Geez, so much is spinning in the ol' brain. What else was hard for you all to do by yourself without a care giver?

poopoopadoop 06-24-2007 07:37 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
Good luck with everything! I just wanted to add that you very well might need your pain meds for a few days, weeks or more. Don't let anyone take them away sooner than you need them to. And the horse thing... I don't know... As someone on this board once wisely told me, some things (tennis in my case) are optional and can wait. I am about 10 weeks out from one level ACDF and even though I FEEL well enough to ride a horse or play tennis, I am going to wait longer. JMO of course...

Keep us posted,

julyg 06-25-2007 09:00 PM

Re: It's my turn now.... ACDF time!
Your body (and your x rays) will tell you when it is healed. It is at that time you will know when to resume activities.

Go through the board about post-surgery healing. Your Mom may not be the right choice. Perhaps you could contact an agency for help.

I have an aged Mother who lives independently with my help as well as a "caregiver". I pay the caregiver from the agency $65 for 4 hrs. She does not mow lawns, but she cooks, cleans, runs errands, takes Mom to Drs.
laundry and discusses books and they watch Oprah together! I have her come in 3 times a week in afternoons and she is a miracle worker.

You might want to ck out an agency for someone like this. They specialize in temporary work. Some are LPNs some are RNs and some are just super people.

If I hadn't had my husband to help me physically and emotionally in the first 3 weeks I would have hired an aide. I am relatively young and was very active
right up to day before surgery.

I had no clue how physically challanged I would become during post-op.

Yes I did highlights and nails 2 days before surgery! Do all your laundry! Figure out bedding and pillows, and get xtra phone books to prop up what ever you are reading on tables because you will not be looking down! I went shopping and bought xtra button down gowns and shirts (because you may not be lifting anything over your head by yourself for a while).

If you do not have a recliner, try a wedge pillow, the long tapered kind. If not, try sleeping with a big pillow stuck UNDER the head of your mattress to give it lift and see how it feels. Try it out before surgery.

If you really have no one to help out (co-workers, friends, church) perhaps a few days stay at a friendly Bed and Breakfast or Hotel after you Mom leaves so you are not "alone" and can get some help.
This is a huge surgery!

I just visited a friend who had a double bypass on Friday. She had the bypass surgery 4 days earlier and was sitting in a chair laughing at the TV when I visited her in the hospital. She was being discharged that day. Taking only Motrin for pain!

Good luck and plan well!


No way was I anywhere close to feeling or looking that good for at least 8 days!

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:23 AM.