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  • Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

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    Old 03-20-2008, 09:51 AM   #1
    DecLady
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    Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    I am not good at the medical terms, but it is a 4 level fusion in my neck, C-3 to C-7 which is set for April 28th.
    I live near Louisville , KY, and my daughter lives in Milwaukee, WI. She can arrange to come and help me for a few days, but then wants to drive me back to WI, a 7+ hour drive.
    I have not talked to my surgeon yet about this idea.

    Is there any way I will be able to manage doing this? Or is it a foolish idea?
    She thinks that if I can stay with her for 2 weeks, then I will be able to manage on my own after that.

    My brother can come and help me in mid April if I need it, but there doesn't seem to be anyone available in the first two weeks after surgery at this point.

    For those of you that have had a 4 level fusion, could you make this trip?

    Declady

     
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    Old 03-20-2008, 11:50 AM   #2
    purpletrail
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    I had a posterior fusion of C3-7 a week ago. I can't imagine riding in a car for over 7 hours on around day 3-5 post surgery. I was actually in the hospital for the first 3 days. A long car ride would be very uncomfortable. I am just picturing all of the time being upright, instead of reclining or horizontal. Also, meals on the roads... You are still trying to figure out a manageable pain medication regime at this stage and feel pretty loopy. I am 47 and handled the procedure well and still would not have been able to deal with a road trip.

    I would ask your surgical team about this. You probably have a contact person with the neurosurgeon's office who handles all the pre and post op issues. This is who you would want to disucss this with.

    Holly

     
    Old 03-20-2008, 11:51 AM   #3
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    Hello declady. From my own experience I would tell you that the plan of driving in a car for 7+ hours just a couple days out from a 4 level surgery is not a good idea. Just because they do not keep you in the hospital long, do not get fooled into thinking that this isn't major surgery.

    Not sure what your doctor will say - they may approve because you will be in a collar, but from a "can you tolerate it" side, the doctor may not have ever exerienced it and wouldn't know how it feels.

    I think on the average for people with multiple fusions (and you are a 4 where most are 2 at a time, a few people here had 3 at a time), the first week is kind of rough. If you have a lot of work done inside to clean up very bad stuff, your neck is probably going to be on the sensitive side for a couple weeks. I had a revision that was a 3 level (with hard collar) and I tried riding in car for 2 hours around week 3 and I was miserable and set back a few days from the extra jostling, swaying, and any stop and go. I can't even imagine a long road trip. Is it possible yes - would I personally do it - no.

    If you are in good health except your spine condition - if you get full time help for the first 3-5 days you are home, then after that you may not need as much help. After the initial period, I was able to take care of myself - and husband only had to help do the chores, laundry, etc. I could make a simple meal for myself etc. Showering and stuff was nice to have someone around for safety and help with clothes. There are people here who live alone and prepared some meals ahead to heat up, put everything up high so no lifting and bending, etc. but they were not 4 level fusions.

    Is it possible to get a friend or someone from church or a club to stop by each day the following week to help you with anything you couldn't accomplish on your own? Then after that maybe your brother could come the following week and allow you more time to rest? I know it's hard to ask for help, but this is one of those times where you need to figure out who you know and ask if they would be willing to help out a few hours week 2.

     
    Old 03-20-2008, 12:04 PM   #4
    purpletrail
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    I would agree with Neckpatient. At about day 5 post surgery, I was definitely able to be by myself, shower and do the basic things I needed around the house. If you are in the hospital for 1-3 or even 4 days, you may not need to have that many days of additional help at home.

    By day 5, I was able to cut back on my narcotics 50%. As long as you are charting your medications, which I feel you have to do or you will miss something or double up, you should be able to keep things straight.

    Everyone recovers differently, but if you planned for help for the first week, you should be okay. Pehaps your physician could also place an order for a home health aide for the first few days.

    I guess this almost sounds like you could travel, but believe me, you need to alternate being up for very short periods of time with being totally horizonal or reclining. You never want to be very far away from a place to get comforable. If you overdo it, you will pay dearly. Also, ice is a great help in the early days so access to the freezer is needed.

    Holly

     
    Old 03-20-2008, 10:14 PM   #5
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    Wink Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    For myself, my 2nd fusion was just a 2 level and I was in the hospital for 5 days, because they could not find the correct meds. that I could keep down, but would still help with the pain. Then, I was sent to a rehab. center, because I did not have family at home to help me and also because I had stairs to get to my apt. An unexpected event was since all the nerves were being moved around in order to get to my spine, something happened and I had a hard time lifting my feet off the ground to walk. So, rehab turned out to be a good thing anyway. When I could take care of myself, that meant doing very basic things. I was not able to be a passenger of a car for several weeks (aprx. 3) and that was for short distances. Even if you plan to lay down the whole time (which would probably be difficult for 7 hrs.), you'd be suprised how every slight turn and bump can be felt. I found the best thing I could do was to sit in the front passenger seat, laying back but supporting myself with ea. arm pushing against the door/console and had my feet well planted srtraight ahead. This way, every time we turned or stopped, I moved very little.

    I would highly suggest that you first talk to your Dr. and make it clear that you will not have anyone to help you at home and that is a concern of yours. I would also make sure to remind him of this, the day of the surgery, when he visits you prior to surgery. That way he will put it on your file and the nurse and social worker will be aware of it. The Social Worker will come to your room and ask all kinds of questions about your living arrangements, so that she can make whatever arrangements that she needs to. Remind her of this at that time. They will also keep you in the hospital longer, if they know that you are going to be alone. They will use that extra time to make sure you are walking well, can do stairs (if you have stairs in you home or to get to your home), you are voiding and eating well. Basically, they will be more inclined to keep you until they are comfortable that you can take care of your self.

    Good luck.

    Lorie

    Good luck and I suggest finding some help in your own house.
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    Old 03-21-2008, 09:14 AM   #6
    DecLady
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    Lorie,
    Thanks so much for your helpful reply. It is sounding like the idea of going somewhere for recovery is not a wise one! I will do what you and others suggest, I will talk to those at the hospital that can help me make the right decisions!
    I am so glad that I posted this...I am a bit more scared than I was about how this surgery will go, but having all this good info helps a lot!
    Thanks!
    Declady

     
    Old 03-21-2008, 04:46 PM   #7
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    By all means don't travel that far. The pain and uncomfortable factor will be insurmountable - I had enough trouble getting comfortable at home let alone in a car for hours. Also, car rides can be risky themselves - even if she's a great driver. Also, consider that you may have pain or other complications (not likely, but it could occur) and you don't want to be 7 hours away from your surgeon. Even if you have minor stuff and the surgeon says "come in and see me" you would not be able to do so.

    I was able to function on my own after a few days. If you have some friends who can perhaps be there for you when needed (maybe once a day or so) you should be fine.

    You will want to check with your surgeon to see if it's an ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) or a Posterior cervical discectomy and fusion. The anterior goes through the front of the neck and appears to be less painful than the Posterior version - as the PCDF goes through muscles making the surgery and recovery a bit more painful.
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    Old 03-21-2008, 05:33 PM   #8
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    Hi

    The slightest bumps in the road put me into agony still at week 3.5 when husband was driving me to work. 2 level ACDF. Can't imagine a 2 hr ride!

    My hospital was an hr away and it was a misrable ride even on an excellent highway.

    My mom has a home health aide and her svc provides 4 hr service for $65. per 1/2 day.

    If you cannot find local friends or associations to help, perhaps a home health care svc would help. We used the service out GP suggested which has a great reputation. They provide short term health care.

    They do meal prep, help you bathe, go shopping, read to you and can tuck you in. They are angels.

    Best of luck with your recovery!

    July

     
    Old 03-22-2008, 03:40 AM   #9
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    I concur with what everyone has posted. My surgeon ended up keeping me longer due to minor complications (I think I was in a total of 6 days) and I really needed that time. Maybe if you get the additional time in the hospital and your daughter times her stay to coincide when your return home, you will really only need her to stay with you those first few days home. She could do your laundry and chores that you need completed around the house. And then if you could have your Doctor have his insurance coordinator work with your insurance to get a homecare aide to come in for a while after your daughter leaves, I think that would help immensely.

    Also, the suggestion of prepared dinners that you keep in your freezer is a brilliant one. I think I read that suggestion on this forum a while ago and I did that and it helped SO much. I do have a family (husband who works crazy hours and 3 teenage kids - one that is special needs). So, I prepared meals prior to surgery, that I could just microwave (casseroles, lasagne, etc) post-surgery and it made it so much easier. I just used that prepackaged lettuce and presto - we had a dinner!

    The important thing I found was being organized and really prepared for the surgery and ran everything by my Doctor. I think part of the reason they kept me longer in the hospital is they knew the challenges I deal with with my Special needs son - he is so sweet, but very physically and emotionally demanding at times.

    I was in the hospital for 6 days and I admit it was challenging riding home in the passenger seat of our car in my hard collar and I only live 45 minutes away from the hospital. It took a lot out of me. So, I really can't even imagine a 7 hour drive and my procedure was 2 levels, not 4.

    Well, keep us posted on what you decide! I know there's so much to think about, it's good that you are thinking about all the variables and looking at everything in depth.

    You're in my thoughts!

    ~ Fiona
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    Old 03-28-2008, 08:41 AM   #10
    DecLady
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    Re: Havin 4 level fusion, when can I travel?

    I have heeded your advice and I will not be travelling right after the surgery! may later, but I am working on having care at home for the first few weeks, how long will depend on how well I do on my own.
    I am getting scared, the surgery is 4/28 and after reading about how people with 2 levels fused fare, I am concerned about having 4 done!
    But, I am strong, and I will do my best to prepare for what is ahead of me. Fingers crossed that I am lucky enough that I am on the good side of the healing curve!

    Thanks for all the information and support, it is much appreciated!

    DecLady

     
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