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    Old 09-02-2011, 10:39 AM   #1
    sandycreech
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    ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Hi everyone, well I did it - Monday Aug 29th I had a 3 level fusion C4 to C7. Doc said it was an easy surgery and everything went well. He said I had almost no space in between the vertebrae, and I am now 1.5 inches taller! Very cool!!

    I'm on heavy pain (hydromorphine 2 mg) - taking 2 every 4 hrs, and on heavy muslce spasm meds (methocarbamol 750 mg) taking 2 every 6 hrs. When I woke up pain wasn't that bad, but by end of the night I hurt terribly, I couldn't stop shaking and moving at all was very difficult. The meds are definitely helping as when they run out I hurt bad! My throat was horrible at first, it felt like it was on fire. Swallowing anything was brutally painful. Best thing to chew on was ice for the first 3 days. Now the pain in the throat is different, it is like the throat is closed half way. I'm breaking the soft food I'm eating into small pieces and it is getting stuck! I quickly follow any small amounts of bread or macaroni with ice water. Is this normal? I am also having bad post nasal drip so sleeping is difficult. I do have a hospital bed and having it raised up helps. But having it too high up hurts my neck.

    I feel like I am carrying a 10 lb weight on the back of my neck. It is very painful and awkward to move. doc has me in hard neck brace i wear always unless i am in bed. I can barely moved head it any direction. Same with arms, told not to move them higher than parallel with my shoulders.

    How long does these pains last - the shoulder/neck and the throat? I am very dizzy and very sleepy, up for a few hours and then back to sleep, probably cause of the meds.

    I am glad I had it done - do not remember anything thankfully! just before I went it they came it telling me how they were going to put pins in my hands and feet to help with the nerve surgery. No thanks - don't need to know that!

    My incision on the throat (don't want to see it) is taped up. How long is it taped and covered? I am showering put putting glad press and seal over it. doc aptm is next thurs to ck incision.

    i am having a huge amount of acid, burping and heartburn. Taking meds but wonder if it is related..

    Thanks for all your help !

    Sandy Creech

     
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    Old 09-02-2011, 11:12 AM   #2
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Sandy - You didn't mention your pre-op symptoms. Are they better, or are you so distracted by the pain/discomfort from the surgery that you can't even tell?

    I hope you have someone around for Heimlichs, given how tight your throat is. Otherwise, maybe stick to liquids?

    Your post-op symptoms are a whole lot worse than mine were, but I only had one level done. Given the extent of the surgery you've undergone, it doesn't seem there's anything out of the ordinary, but others here would know better than I....

     
    Old 09-02-2011, 02:32 PM   #3
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Hi webdozer, i just got off the phone with the doctor. He said everything I am going thru - from bad acid reflux, can't swallow even small amounts of bread without it getting stuck, and the horrible neck/back pain are all completely normal for 3 level acdf, and are expected in most 3 levels. He said everyone heals differently, so i have to wait and see how i feel as time goes on. prior to surgery i had complete numbness in my left arm and pins and needles. i did have 3 epidurals and they made it better - not completely but say 80%. however the tingling was just coming back although the last epidural was only 45 days prior to the surgery. epidurals are temporary and much of how long they last seems to be related to amount of physical damage existing. i had 3 bone spurs completely grown into my nerve root on my mri. day of surgery my left arm hurt real bad, tingling and burning. all that is gone. my neck always hurt, but nothing like this. i cannot move it at all (in hard neck brace) even with brace off i move it maybe an inch. doc said very typical being just 5 days out. i have just started a very long healing process. keep walking, and resting, absolutely no lifting. i can do that. i'm trying to cut back pain pills a bit since it is morphene... have to see how i feel. thanks for your info. sandy

     
    Old 09-04-2011, 04:29 PM   #4
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    You are extremely early in your recovery. I only had a 2 level done and was in the hospital for 5 days due to swelling in my throat. I was only on liquids and soft food not bread. I couldn't eat bread for almost 2 months without it getting stuck. I had yogurt, sherbert, ice cream, loose mashed potatoes, jello, thin oatmeal, soup and items like that for at least a month or more. Give your self time and different types of food. I was only in a soft collar which is much more comfortable. When I took it off I did not feel as if I could support my head. I had a plastic hard collar for showering. I didn't like it at all. stay on top of your pain meds. I will take about 2 hours to feel relief if you wait too long. Wait at least 2 weeks to try and start to wean yourself. The steri strips covering your incision stayed on until my 2 week check. I kept mine covered and had the surgeon remove them. I was too concerned. My scar looks great now and surgery was 12/9/2010. Some people can't see the scar It is always visible to me. I was feeling pretty good and was back to carrying the laundry basket, vacuuming and getting back to most routine activities. My strength is not back yet. ROM is pretty good. Then on Friday I was stopped waiting to make a turn and an SOB was not paying attention and slammed into me at 30 mph. Hopefully my fusion is good enough and not permanent damage was done. Still waiting to find out. Going back to the OSS on Wed.
    Sorry about the off task.
    You need to give yourself time. Have a less painfilled day.

     
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    Old 09-05-2011, 08:21 AM   #5
    sandycreech
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Hi frenchfri1003 - When I read your message i wanted to jump up and scream (of course jumping right now is not a good idea one week post op!). I am sending prayers your way that you will not have any damage from the recent accident! My bad accident was back in 1990 when I was hit about 50 mph from behind. that is the accident that caused these bone spurs so many years later. I can imagine how angry you are! Do please post what the doctors feel is happening. Are you in much neck pain? I remembered after my accident i was fine at first and maybe 2 days later the pain started and then didn't stop for a long time.

    I am doing ok - 1 week post op today. I'm sleeping a huge amount still. They increased my pain meds to 4 mg morphene and muslce relaxer. I'm cutting down to just one pill every 4 hrs and it seems to be working. I'm going for walks everyday, a bit farther each day. My husband got me a hospital bed and I'm very thankful, with it i can get comfortable most nights. sleeping on heating pad where the 3 level fusion is also helps. I still have a lump the size of a golf ball at the fustion site (it was the size of tennis ball in hospital). Pain is starting to go away. But my head feels so heavy to carry around! Wearing the hard brace helps. Not moving my neck at all still.

    I do hope you don't have any damage from your accident. Please let us know!

    Sandy in FL

     
    Old 09-05-2011, 09:03 AM   #6
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Your head it going to feel heavy for a long time. Just remember to listen to your body and not push yourself. I wanted to go back to work at 8 weeks, but didn't. I would be concerned with the lump by the incision site. FOr me cold worked better than heat, but each person is different. Until you are able to speak to someone who went through something similar it is hard to guage how you are doing. I found 2 people on a different site that had surgery within a month of mine. We continue to talk today. That site is spine health. Each of these sites have wonderful people to use as a sounding board and to commiserate with. How is eating? Bread got stuck in my throat for months and I needed water to push it down. I decided it just wasn't worth it to have bread products. I had enough other food to eat and was pleased that I lost a bit of weight. Too bad I put it all back on, oh well. Feel free to ask any questions.
    I am looking forward to seeing my OSS on Wed. Thankfully my neck is not too painful. Many aches, a slight headache, major muscle spasms and tenderness. I have a TENS unit which is electrical stim so that helps with the muscle spasms. At my 2 week check I started wearing a bone growth stimulator. It is suppose it speed up the bone growth. I had end plate bone growth at 6 months I think. Good luck and hope you have a speedy recovery.

    **************************************** *********
    12/9/2010 ACDF C5-6 C6-7 with plate, screws,
    BMP & bone fragment filled cages
    2/14/2011 trying to go back to work as a teacher
    2/17/2011 starting PT
    wearing bone stimulator 4 hours a day
    DDD, arthritis, herniated disks, pinched nerves
    3 months saw a little bit of bone growth (YEAH)
    4/15/2011 Home Tens Unit
    6 months - end plate growth going well - no more bone stimulator, issues with hands going to vascular and hand surgeons to find out why
    8/2011 - may have TOS or RSD still researching
    9/2/2011 Rear ended at 30 mph. Think I am okay going to OSS on Tue or Wed. School begins Tues.
    Dealt with the pain and issues for more than 5 years
    tried PT, chiropractic, acupuncture, cervical epidural shots and selective nerve root blocks prior to surgery
    [Copy Selction]

     
    Old 09-06-2011, 01:38 PM   #7
    sandycreech
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Hi Frenchfri - The lump in on the back of my neck. It was real big in the hospital and nurse said it was normal after my 3 level. It is still there but getting smaller. My doc said he didn't think i would need the bone stimulator. I hope he is right. But I can't believe how good I feel. Sore, sure. Throat tender and I'm eating only soft foods, and yes the head feels like it is made of led. But overall, I'm shocked. After reading these posts I heard so many bad things. I had a huge amount of people praying for me, and I am positive it really helped.

    I'm sending prayers your way after this sad accident of yours. Please let your fusion be ok, with no other permanent damage. Please do check in and let me know how you are! I wish you were near in FL, it would be wonderful to sit and talk with someone who went thru what I am face to face. Take care of yourself!!

    Sandy

     
    Old 09-07-2011, 05:29 PM   #8
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    Thumbs up Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    I am happy to report after coming home from the OSS the hardware is all in place. He took a ton of x rays of my neck and back. The plate and screws are in tact and in place no issues with them. He said that I have a really significant whiplash. Major muscle spasms and some pain issues to deal with. I haven't taken much for the pain as I wanted to "really" feel what was going on. He said that I should wear the soft collar and that should help along with Soma 250 mg for muscle spams and EC naprosyn 500 mg for the pain. They said to find a pharmacy that accepts no fault. My regular pharmacy doesn't so I need to make a few calls. Not really sure how no fault works. Guess I need to. OSS is taking care of all the paperwork for his visits since I have to go through my PIP on my car insurance here in NY. Doesn't seem fair to me. I go back in 2 weeks unless I feel worse then I can go back when ever I want to. They are wonderful. I asked about any herniation or bulging. He said that wouldn't show in an xray and he would wait for an MRI which would show that. Some people suggested that I find a lawyer. Not sure what to do. On the accident report the guy who hit me did take responsibility so that part is done. I don't think there is any money. The guy who hit me was unlicensed and his brother who owned the car is licensed and insured. I think they are immigrants who barely make ends meet. Owner works at stop and shop and as a cook at a deli. Guy who hit me works at dunkin donuts. I worked 2 days now (teacher) and the muscle spasms and pain have definitely increased. Glad I was able to sit on the recliner and do nothing for 4 days.
    Just want to thank everyone for being concerned. I'm sure I will repost in 2 weeks after the next appointment unless something else comes up.

    Can't imagine getting hit at 50mph. That must have been awlful. I know that a few days later people were setting off fireworks and I nearly jumped out of my skin. Hopefully the jumpiness will diminish in time.

    yes, sleeping and or dozing is common. Don't try to decrease the pain meds too much. I remember trying to do that. When the pain started it came on strong. Then it took almost 2 hours for the meds to take affect. I didn't make that mistake too often. Hope you don;t. Glad that the hospital bed helps. I didn;t even think of that. I slept in the recliner for a long time. I am spending alot of time there now. From what I hear there is a big difference between a 2 and 3 level fusion.I felt that my recovery for my 2 level was slower than expected. Hoping that the lump continues to decrease. I used vitamin e and sunscreen on my scar from a few weeks out. Massaging the vitamin e helped with scarring and scare tissue. People don't even see the scare now. YEAH. Your head will feel heavy for a long time. Wearing the brace give you much needed support.

    You are still very early in your recovery. One thing I did was keep a journal of the meds I took, how they helped and any symptoms I had and question that arose. I took my journal with me to each visit. I also ask about my ROM on each visit and kept a long. I felt it was important to keep all of that because I knew I would never remember any of the questions or answers when I had each appointment. My OSS now always asks what questions do I have for him and takes his time answering them fully. Right after the surgery I had my husband type out the questions and he read them and my husband wrote down the answers because I was still out of it. It also helps to look back and remember the progression.

    Enough of me rambling. Have a better day and night.

     
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    Old 09-08-2011, 12:56 PM   #9
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Hi Frenchfri - that is WONDERFUL news that all of your hardware is in place and not affected by the idiot that hit you! This is going to take some getting used to - talking about hardware in my head! I will continue to send prayers your way and hope that the pain you are in is minimized and healing starts.

    When I was hit the guy had no license or insurance. And truck was owned by a fly by night company that quietly folded when my attorney tried to contact them. The kid driving was 17. Nothing came of it. I guess if there is no gold, is it even worth to dig? My insurance paid for my car damage minus a deductible I had to pay and my medical insurance paid all my chiro costs. Of course this in back in 1990 and rules could be all different now. I'm not sure I can give you good advice on any of it.

    Before my surgery I saw both an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon (neuro did the surgery). The ortho wanted xrays and the neuro insisted on the mri for the surgery. prob their specialty. It wouldn't hurt to have an mri especially if insurance pays for it to be sure. I don't know if it takes time after an accident for disks to bulge or if it happens right away. I don't think I had an mri after my accident in 1990. I just used the chiro alot. Back then it worked, and it took 21 years for the damage to present itself. If it hadn't I'm sure I would never had the surgery. I am very happy I did. I feel fabulous! I went for wound ck today, he took off steri strip. It feels odd now, like it is open exposing my plate. But I'm sure it just that it is exposed to the air for the first time. I do have vitamin E, how soon can i start to put it on? I forgot to ask the doctor that. My head definitely feels better with the brace on, so I wear it often. He said I may go back to work at 6 weeks. Honestly I could go back sooner probably, I feel very good. Definitely neck pains exist. I'm just on tylenol now, and a bit of muscle relaxant as I do still have spasms once in awhile.

    Take care and let me know what you decide to do with your accident. I wish I could give you more info... Just take care of yourself..

    Sandy

     
    Old 09-17-2011, 02:12 PM   #10
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    Talking Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Sorry it took me so long to respond. I remember what it was like right after surgery. Glad you are doing so well after your surgery. Just take is slow. I thought I would go back at 6 weeks also. Didn't happen. I guess alot depends on what you do, the hours and commute. Just remember that if you feel you went back too soon you can always go back out. That was something that my OSS told me. He wanted me to stay out a full 3 months. I went back just after 2 months because I was going crazy at home. I worked for a week (tough) then had a week off as a teacher. Then I think I worked 2 weeks and had another week off. It was probably too soon but I figured that the time was broken up. Thankfully I am in a classroom with another teacher so I could sit down with my head back and rest. The kids were great. In the beginning I wore the soft collar (had a scarf or bandanna around it for decoration). They always came in wondering what I would be wearing. They preferred the rainbow colored smilie faces.

    I am still having muscle spasms although not as often or severe, but still much more than I would like. My ROM is more like when I was recovering rather than when I felt back to myself. I go back on Wed. I am going to ask for a MRI. Just need peace of mind or documentation of the beginning of something if necessary for legal reasons.

    Hope you continue to be dealing with very little pain. The Vitamine E can be used as soon as the steri strips come off. I used a small amount 2x a day. Just massage in on and around the incision area. It should help make the wound almost invisible and decrease any scar tissue. Unless you knew where the incision was, you wouldn't see my incision at all. There is some scar tissue but not that much. I still use the vitamin e and sunscreen but only 1x a day.
    Take Care and keep me posted on how you are doing. Oh, the most important thing to remember is "Listen to your neck" and walk as much as you can.


    **************************************** *********
    12/9/2010 ACDF C5-6 C6-7 with plate, screws,
    BMP & bone fragment filled cages
    2/14/2011 trying to go back to work as a teacher
    2/17/2011 starting PT
    wearing bone stimulator 4 hours a day
    DDD, arthritis, herniated disks, pinched nerves
    3 months saw a little bit of bone growth (YEAH)
    4/15/2011 Home Tens Unit
    6 months - end plate growth going well - no more bone stimulator, issues with hands going to vascular and hand surgeons to find out why
    8/2011 - may have TOS or RSD still researching
    9/2/2011 Rear ended at 30 mph. Significant Whiplash

    Dealt with the pain and issues for more than 5 years
    tried PT, chiropractic, acupuncture, cervical epidural shots and selective nerve root blocks prior to surgery

     
    Old 10-04-2011, 09:48 AM   #11
    JulieJo2020
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    Re: ACDF 5 days ago - slow recovery

    Hi,

    I had 2 level ACDF C5-6 C6-7 on Aug 9th. I wore hard collar for 7 weeks 24/7 and was SO glad to get it off. NOW My muscles on both sides of my neck are kinda stuck in upright position...very weird. I idn't have any of the throat issues you are having but did experience the acid reflux and still am. I take a Zantac 150 every day and that has helped a great deal. The first week I thought I was fine and only was taking tylenol after 4 days home. I tried to dry my hair and pulled a muscle in my back hurt worse than the entire surgery I was in so much pain for a week! I had to get an antiinflamatory even though you're not supposed to take them. Pain felt like stabbing hot butcher knife so I really had no choice. After 3 days of medication, pain pills and icepacks it felt better. DO NOT OVER_DO. The rest of the 4 weeks recovery I listened to doctor ! no Lifting reaching etc...if I felt the twinge I put it down too heavy. I went back to work week 3 for 2 half days the next week 3 half days etc last week I came back full time. I was TIRED...but feel a little better every day. Now I am working on just trying to figure out what to do with the stiff muscles...gonna try to walk every day as we are having unseasonably warm weather this week...hoping it helps. My numbness in my hands is still there but better. My neck pain is gone but replaced with this weird stiffness. I am hoping it goes away soon.

     
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