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    Old 12-17-2007, 10:07 AM   #1
    Join Date: Aug 2006
    Location: San Antonio, TX
    Posts: 5
    satxcindy HB User
    ACDF surgery questions

    Scheduled for ACD (C3-4, C4-5, C5-6) this Thursday (ho, ho, ho!) & wondering about silly things. Will I be catheterized for surgery & after? Is this uncomfortable but more efficient than the bedpan? Is it difficult to sleep in a soft collar (doc says 2 weeks in a collar)? I'm a side sleeper & wonder about rolling over. How soon until I can get in the shower & have a good scrub, shave, & shampoo? Feeling better since deciding to go ahead & get this done but now all the silly little questions keep popping up. Any best lotion/moisturizer for healthy scar healing? How soon 'til they'll have me up walking (doc says 3-4 days in hospital)? Will have verts plated together (thank goodness without having to have hipbone graft) - doc says would like to do 4 but they only do that in the most dire of circumstances. Will I lose lots of range of motion? I know lots of this is individual but wondering what those of you who've been through this have found to be the norm w/ this surgery & if you have any tips, pointers, suggestions. Thanks for any & all info & wishing you all a healthy & happy holiday season!
    Cindy in San Antonio

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    Old 12-17-2007, 10:12 PM   #2
    Join Date: Jan 2005
    Location: USA
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    Re: ACDF surgery questions

    If you search old posts here you will find such a wealth of info.

    Cath was out after surgery after a few hours, and then they had me up when I had to go. I never stayed more than a 24 hour stay. A real shower was probably day 3, I think I remember not being allowed for 3 days so not to wet the scar. The most I ever did was 2 levels at a time.

    You can get this vitamin e oil at drugstore. Some people break open pills but I swear by the straight oil sold at the pharmacy - it works wonders. You can't put that stuff on until you scar is well along in healing, like about week 4for me. I am fused and plated C4,5,6,7 and have hardly any loss of range of motion and I have a short neck. I think majority of motion loss would be if you did C2-3, but expect a little.

    Get some comfy pillows before and have a variety available to you. If you have a recliner you might find that more comfy for the first week to a couple weeks. Take pills with soft foods like pudding/applesauce. You might have some choking from swelling, take small bites of food and take your time eating , follow with plenty of fluids. Take your pain pills on time the first week for comfort, you will heal faster if you feel good. You might have lots of drilling/cleanup , might have some neck pain the first two days. The surgery is not so bad, most people are surprised at how much easier it was than they imagined. Don't be afraid to ask for pain meds in hospital if you need them.

    Be careful, take your time, you get one shot at this to make it really successful, baby yourself and do not lift as per what your dr. tells you. Stay as active as you comfortably can as far as walking when you are allowed. I can't stress enough, do not try to be superwoman and really take care of yourself and your spine. You will thank yourself later if you help yourself heal well.

    Good luck and everyone will be here cheering you on.

    Old 12-18-2007, 07:45 AM   #3
    Join Date: May 2007
    Location: USA
    Posts: 1,359
    skych HB Userskych HB User
    Re: ACDF surgery questions

    Hi Sat,

    I really can't say much other than about the surgical scar thing.

    I have had many surgeries mostly on my left wrist and elbow and part of my therapy was scar treatment. NP is right that you can not really do this untill the inscision in well healed and not to tender.

    I would use oil of various types, my favorites were Neutragina masage oil and of course good old vitamin e-oil. The massage oil had a nice soft scent. Anyway I was taught that rubbing across the the direction of the scar a few times a day could help with the dispersion of the scar-tissue. Sometimes the sutures or staples will make the skin hard and bummpy even after they are removed.

    I would use a little rounded massage thing that had rounded bulb like ends. I am sure that you can find something in your house for that. I would put the oil on and massage in circular motions sort of against the grain of the inscision.

    The end results were good. The scars are all the same level as my regular skin. The scar skin tone has now blended well with my regular skin tone. This is something that took a while. Months before I could see signifigant results but really worth it. I have 10 inscision scars on my left arm and most of them can not really be seen unless ponted out. There are about 4 that can be noticed but not to bad.

    Hope this helps!!
    One thing at a time. You are a while away from the scar care part.
    We will all be here to support you and help when we can.

    Best wishes and I will be praying for you on Thurs!!!


    Last edited by skych; 12-18-2007 at 07:48 AM.

    Old 12-18-2007, 08:13 AM   #4
    Join Date: Aug 2006
    Location: San Antonio, TX
    Posts: 5
    satxcindy HB User
    Re: ACDF surgery questions

    Thanks, Chrissy & Neck for good, positive responses.
    I find that I'm both blessed & cursed w/ a very vivid imagination that in times of duress is off & running! Can think of a thousand little things to fret about instead of focusing on the end result which I know will be good. Having as many facts assembled as possible also helps to keep me sane & thus feeling better prepared. Bless those of you who have been through this & share your information - you make it possible to know that this isn't the end of the world & that there's such a good place to go whenever there are questions.

    Old 12-18-2007, 09:03 PM   #5
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    Re: ACDF surgery questions

    You will be catheterized during surgery. By the time I got to my room after surgery the catheter was out. Most likely you will be up and walking a few hours after surgery (if only to go to the bathroom). They don't let you lay in bed so they can prevent blood clots and pneumonia. The "up right away" thing is common for most surgeries in which it's possible.

    I too had an ACDF without any bone from the hip. It was two plates and 6 screws. I was in the hospital for two nights and on the second night I was sitting in a chair eating the light meal they gave me. The more I got up the better I felt.

    I had an Aspen collar for 6 weeks and I adjusted to sleeping at an angle in my bed. If you can buy a "bed wedge" it helps keep you at an angle. I used that plus a bunch of pillows. I'll be honest I didn't sleep really well but I didn't stress to much about that since I was off work. I figured for the first few weeks I'd take sleep when I could get it. My husband was very understanding of that - he knew my sleep schedule would be off so he moved into the guest room for about 4 weeks. (Whenever I have surgery I tend to be up all night, vicodin works well for me but keeps me awake).

    I had my surgery on a Thursday and came home on Saturday morning. Sunday I sat on a shower seat and did a quick shower with shampoo. I felt a little shaky so it lasted all of 5 minutes or less but felt so good! From that point after I tended to wash my hair every 2-3 days but usually took a quick shower nearly every day. I bought an women's electric razor so I could shave my legs outside the shower and that was a good purchase (relativley cheap too).

    For the scar I used Curad Scar strips - they fit the incision well and worked well. Whenver I went out in the sun for the first year I used a 30 spf lip balm (yes, lip balm, unscented) to rub it over the scar. It was a good idea, easy to carry with me, and thicker than a lotion type product.

    I didn't really loose very much range of motion. I will tell you I am FAR more careful about straining my neck to see behind me, etc. I bought a little clip on mirror for my rear view mirror that helped me drive - it gave me more viewability behind me so I didn't have to strain.

    Here is my one BIG pointer (you may have seen this if you've read any of my prior posts): Make sure once you get home to remain as active as you can. I have a ranch style home and only went out occasionally. I didn't realize how deconditioned I was. The first day I went back to work at 6 weeks post-op I was in agony.....not from the neck but because the walk from my car to my office building simply exhausted me. We have a treadmill in our house and I should have gotten on it (when I felt able - a few days after getting home) even at ½ mph or 1 mph. I would have started at like 2 minutes and built up - keeping a slow pace - but exteding how long I walked. Or I should have made my husband walk me around the block each evening.

    Good'll do fine...take care of yourself and listen to your body as you recover.
    Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

    Last edited by SpineAZ; 12-18-2007 at 09:04 PM. Reason: spelling

    Old 12-19-2007, 01:14 PM   #6
    Join Date: Aug 2006
    Location: San Antonio, TX
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    satxcindy HB User
    Re: ACDF surgery questions

    Thanks, Spine. Surgery @ 9am in the morning so the countdown has begun. Planning to get up & around ASAP as posts on this board & all other info continues to stress that this is the best way to get started on the road to wellness. Our weather here in south TX is forecast to be mid-70's to 80's this week & next so may be able to walk to the mailbox & then to the end of the block the short way, then the long way, etc. soon. Shoot - I'm thinking I'll be back on the racquetball court within the next year! Know that I do not make light of this, though, and do appreciate all the info you guys have sent. Wishing all a wonderful holiday season & will have more questions soon, I'm sure.

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