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    Old 05-09-2003, 07:07 AM   #1
    Sulynn
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    Exclamation Surgery in the morning...last minute questions

    I will be going in for surgery in the morning, one level acdf donor bone & plate.
    Right now I'm dreading the recovery more than the surgery itself. I hope it won't be too long before I can go back to doing the things I love, like yard work. Of course I know that I'll be a nervous wreck about messing the fusion up...last thing I want is for that fusion to fail!
    I have a couple of last minute questions. Is going up and down stairs going to be difficult? I only have a second floor bathroom! No railings to hold...just the walls.
    Any tips on how to brush teeth when you can't bend over the sink? I'm picturing myself with toothpaste running into my collar and missing the sink when I rinse my mouth.
    How will I take pills when I won't be able to tip my head back?
    I've heard that lifting your arms up can be painful...how will I wash my hair?
    Last, but not least I'm concerned about vomiting from the pain meds that they'll put in the IV after the operation. Can they give me anything to keep me from getting sick? My whole body jerks around when I vomit (even if it's just stomach acid coming up) and I'd hate to mess my neck up right after the operation!

    Sulynn

     
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    Old 05-09-2003, 09:27 AM   #2
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    Sulynn,

    All of the things you mention are difficult to do at first but possible. I used straws and didn't tilt my head (still don't) to take pills. They got stuck a few times, and I had to gag them back up (yuk). I also used a straw for rinsing with brushing my teeth and then bent at the waist to spit it out, never bending my neck (still don't). My husband washed my hair for the first 10 days, and then I did it myself without any problems. As far as going up and down stairs, I didn't try it for the first 10 days, but then I was able to do it carefully. I do have a rail, though. Morphine made me sick after the surgery, and I thought I would vomit. That scared me, so I turned down the morphine. They did give me something for the nausea, but it didn't work. Stopping the morphine worked, but then, of course, I had more pain (but not in the front of my neck). A lot of people don't get sick with morphine. Some people love it.

    Best wishes with your surgery and recovery.

    p.s. My husband washed my hair like a true guy. He's balding and doesn't have much experience with hair, especially with rinsing. If you plan on having a man wash your hair, you might want to give a trial run before the surgery, if you can.



    [This message has been edited by Memer (edited 08-04-2003).]

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 10:35 AM   #3
    Debbie2
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    You poor thing, don't fret about these things. Because you'll be doing yard work before you know it. First of all if you're having hardware, you'll be put together pretty well. You won't hurt yourself if you are careful. Wash your hair really good tonight, and maybe even pick up some dry shampoo (or baby powder). You may have to go a couple of days before you get it washed. Straws, especially the flexible straws will be great. I had no problem swallowing anything... even food. But I was lucky from what I read.
    You will be able to brush you teeth bending over the sink, remember, if you bend over the sink from your waste, you will be fine. My arms didn't hurt when I put them over my head in the shower, it was more my paranoia.
    The only thing I see here you need to worry about are those stairs. I too don't have rails, just walls. Walls that are 200 years old, wind around and are crooked. Just take your time, have someone (if that is possible), walk behind you going up, and in front coming down. I did slip once, and slapped myself down on my hands pretty hard. Didn't hurt myself, just freaked out. Thought I would be spitting up screws and plates (that is a joke). But if you are careful, it may not be so bad as you have it imagined. If this is your basic acdf surgery, one level.
    Debbie
    P.S. Good luck and God Bless, you get back here real soon and let us know how you are.


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    Debbie2
    ACDF fusion (c5c6) with titanium plate and screws using donor bone -
    September 4, 2002.

    [This message has been edited by Debbie2 (edited 05-09-2003).]
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    Debbie2
    ACDF fusion (c5c6) with titanium plate and screws using donor bone -
    September 4, 2002.

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 12:49 PM   #4
    winged phantom
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    Gosh, Sulynn, you're having surgery on a Saturday? Good luck with it!!!!! I hope all things go well with the surgery so that the recovery is smooth! that is first and foremost!

    Right now I'm one month post-op, and I keep wanting to do some easy yard work, but it's way too early for that (well, actually, I did do some pruning so I could get so my compost pile). I still have some pain, which is more irritating than anything, but I'm still sick of the pain. Anyway, it's so soon in the entire recovery process, and my pain/injuries are really very old, anyway...

    Yes, you must be very careful for a few months (Or longer) so you don't mess with the fusion process. It just isn't worth the damage that can cause! Yes, I would say stairs may be something difficult, especially if you will be in a collar. Please discuss this with your doctor! It may very well be, since you have to get to the bathroom, that he will either make you stay up there.... or at the other extreme allow you to go up and down the stairs without your collar, so you can actually see your feet and have less of a chance of tripping. So it's worth asking about...

    I agree with Debbie; you should not have any trouble with brushing your teeth, as your waist will not be incumbered. And it's likely you can do that, too, without your collar. Ask about that, too, as well as having to wear the collar in the shower... or not. If you need to do that, you will need to have a hard collar (don't forget the extra set of pads, whether you need it in the shower or not).

    Flexible straws are very helpful, especially the first two weeks or so. I have to get pills into the back of my throat, or I cannot swallow them, so I had to carefully lean back from the waist (supporting my head with my hands), to accomplish that. Be careful! With these collars, you cannot get your head into its usual positions for swallowing anything, so it may be a bit of work at first! And belching? did we tell you about that, too? Most of us have had burping problems right after surgery.... I think some of that is also the awkward head/neck positions, and the difficulty of eating/drinking with the collar, etc....

    Difficulty with lifting arms? I think that will depend largely on what type of surgery you have. And the skill of your doctor, and, and, and... I had a lot of trouble washing my very long hair with my first surgery in 1989... no fusion. This time around, I have very short hair ( I gave it away last year), and there was no problem getting my arms up to wash my hair. If you have a corpectomy or a posterior incision, you will likely have more trouble with your arms. One hint for laying back and sitting forward.... use one hand behind your head or neck to help support it: don't "pull", just guide! You'll catch on, and if you can't lift your arms, Cliff discovered that pulling on the ends of a long scarf aroung his neck accomplished the same thing (what a genius ).

    Vomiting and anaesthesia? Definitely a problem! If you know for sure that you cannot tolerate something in particular, definitely tell everyone who comes near you before surgery. And especially the anaesthesiologist! They can give you a different type of anaesthesia, or they can give you meds to prevent nausea.... Whatever, if you think your stomach is upset the next day, do not leave to go home... at least not without a Rx for antinausea meds (hopefully a suppository). And make sure you have soft foods at home that can be eaten easily... yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, applesauce, mashed potatoes, soups, Gatorade, pop... Make somebody get them in the flavors YOU LIKE, not just ones they would pick out for themselves. And maybe some saltines, too... At one critical point in my recovery, everything we had was either the wrong flavor, or too sweet (hey, and I never think anything is too sweet!); I could not even bear to think about even a Ritz cracker! I just wanted to barf at the thought of anything! That's when the Gatorade came in handy... as well as some anti nausea meds (and this was on day 4!) How about ginger ale, too?

    You'll need lots of pillows, a recliner or a 45 degree wedge, or a couch cushion to give you the best angle for what feels comfy at the moment. Sitting up seems to be the way to sleep for a while, and that's where the recliner comes in handy....

    Be sure to post back when you get home... and whenever you have questions. We'll try to help keep you comfortable! And remember, log roll if in bed!

    Now go out and have a good surgery!
    wr

    ------------------
    • 12/29/89 C5-6 Microdiskectomy (no fusion)
    • 4/9/03 ACDF C4-7 with plating and donor bone

    [This message has been edited by winged phantom (edited 05-09-2003).]
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    • 12/29/89 C5-6 Microdiskectomy (no fusion)
    • 4/9/03 ACDF C4-7 with plating and donor bone

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 01:12 PM   #5
    Debbie2
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    One more thing that wr made me think of... is anaesthesia. You can ask the anaesthesiologist for a good medication. The cheaper forms are the one's that can cause problems, many people don't know that. You want an injection and never any gas. Just talk with him, and tell him... no vomitting allowed. My doctor said they use anaesthesia that avoids stomach problems.
    ?!?!?!
    Debbie

    ------------------
    Debbie2
    ACDF fusion (c5c6) with titanium plate and screws using donor bone -
    September 4, 2002.
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    Debbie2
    ACDF fusion (c5c6) with titanium plate and screws using donor bone -
    September 4, 2002.

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 01:14 PM   #6
    Nanner
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    Congrats on the fast approaching surgery date, Sulynn! The replies to your questions just proves we all have differing experiences. If you are in a hard collar, you really will need those flexible straws for rinsing out your mouth after you brush. I even spit into a cup for about a week, as it was hard to bend far enough not to make a mess with a hard collar and very swollen neck.

    The hair washing was a bit difficult as my arms were sore. Maybe it depends what level you are having done or how severe the radiculopathy was, but again it was about a two weeks post-surgery before I felt I could wash my hair without much pain.

    As for the stairs, my NS didn't want me to go up and down for at least 5 days with the hard collar. When you venture, take it slow. The lack of a railing on your stairs makes me worry for you. Holding on to something is a must if you can't see your feet. Please be careful with yourself!

    ------------------
    Nancy D-ACDF C6-7 on 6/7/02. Donor bone with no hardware
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    Nancy D-ACDF 6/2/02, bladder suspension 12/06, sarcoidosis 10/07, TKR 9/3/13

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 02:04 PM   #7
    IonMan
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    Sulynn,

    From my experience I would reiterate the need for Popsicles, they are wonderful for your sore throat, especially after waking up.

    When you check in & in talking to each new person, nurse, & doctors & other professionals, is to tell them if you are prone to stomach problems. They should take care of you well, they did me.

    Although I did not need to, I was navigating the stairs, with one handrail, on the second day I was home. Just take it slow & easy. If you feel fine walking, then the stairs should be ok. If you are having problems walking be sure to have some help, but either way have someone help the first few times.

    Taking pills, I found that I just put one on my tongue & sipping from a straw & swallow, taking one at a time.

    Brushing your teeth, the first few days I used the little kidney shaped bowl they gave me at the hospital. I raised it to my lips to spit, but once home I started bending at the waist and spit in the sink. Although I will admit that I use a bib for bushing my teeth & to eat. For the bib I just tuck a napkin in between my chin & the brace.

    Can't help you with your hair questions, before surgery I got a buzz cut, what my dad called a "butch". Be thankfull you don't need to shave your neck. (it's all a trade off)

    The number one thing I suggest is go slow, you will be surprised at how quickly you find that you are able to do a lot of things on your own.

    Good luck
    Cliff

    PS Oh yes a grab tool, I got mine for $10.00 at wal-Ma&t

    ------------------
    Cervical myelopathy with frank cord compression from bony impingement.
    22 Apr 03 C5 corpectomy, a C4/6 strut graft with allograft bone, titanium plate

    [This message has been edited by IonMan (edited 05-09-2003).]
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    Apr 03 C5 corpectomy C4-C6 strut graft with titanium
    May 03 Heart Attack, Balloon Angioplasty & Stent implanted
    Apr 2010 sched for ACDF and laminectomy & stabilize C3 (maybe C2) to C7

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 02:09 PM   #8
    melanie dawn
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    Hi , I just wanted to pop in and wish you luck tomorrow.
    You are almost there , on the other side of the spiney road.
    Best of luck , look forward to hearing your post op report.
    Mel
    __________________
    Congenital Cervical Stenosis,complicated by:
    Paracentral Disc herniations ,bone spurs C4/5,C5/6,C6/7
    loss of lordotic curve
    Advanced myelopathy inc. walking difficulty, loss of gag reflex with swallowing problems, neurogenic bladder, occipital neuralgia, spacticity

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 03:58 PM   #9
    DariusTDog
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    Sulyn,

    Good luck tomorrow! We all have different experiences, but mine was a piece of cake. Never had trouble going up or down stairs the day after surgery, never had trouble bending over the sink to spit after brushing my teeth. I had a little nausea with the morphine but they fixed that right away with another med in the IV. No problem. Don't fret anything (its not going to do any good, anyway!). All the advice all ready posted on this message is great advice.

    Best of Luck!

    Tone

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    ACDF C4-5 w/locking plate and allograft
    3-18-2003

    [This message has been edited by DariusTDog (edited 05-09-2003).]

    [This message has been edited by DariusTDog (edited 05-09-2003).]
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    ACDF C4-5 w/locking plate and allograft
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    Old 05-09-2003, 07:22 PM   #10
    mamechi
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    My prayers are with you, good luck tomorrow. I had ACDF c5-6, on 01/29/02...with a ruptured disc compressing my spinal cord. I had mashed potatoes, peas and a piece of pork chop the third day after my surgery..Yes...everything was placed in the food processor and softened with chicken broth...believe me..it tasted like heaven!!!!I could no longet eat the jello or drink ensure! I did use a straw to drink!!! I started sleeping on a reclyning chair the second week after my surgery, could not lay down in bed and it was uncomfortable because of the neck brace.Rent a positions bed if you can at least for a few weeks. The reclyning chair worked just perfect! After the surgery I felt No pain at all, if any which was very little, took tylenol pm at night, the morphine and vicoding they gave me at the hospital were flushed down the toilet as they made me sick the first day I had them after arriving from the hospital. I was hallucinating from them...it was horrible! I followed the doctor's instructions by the book! I do not play tennis, golf, pool or go fishing anymore, I walk and do some stretching which keeps me in shape. I enjoy gardening and working in my yard like you, but if I do too much I migth get some cramps down my back.I do not shovel snow nor carry anything heavier that 10 lbs. Popsickles, applesauce, rice pudding are great to eat after the surgery.I drank lots of gatorade and juices. I did not loose my voice at all , although the neuro was worried about it, some people do.. I could not take a shower nor wash my hair for the first 7 days, just take a "standing bath" and needed someone with me to help me scrub and wash since bending was difficult..(doctor's instructions) My mom cleaned my hair with a cloth and warm water..it got very dirty during the surgery.Although my hair was short, I had a haircut before the surgery and it helped a lot! I was able to brush my teeth and used lots of scope too ! Just take a day at the time and take good care of yourself and rest. Walking 10 minutes around the room or the house helped a lot.Don't go downstairs unless you really need to...walk for a few minutes before you go down just to make sure you are not dizzy. I also took long naps...sleeping at night may be difficult...don't go crazy about it, I slept a lot during the day!!! Good luck to you, believe me, I feel 100% better now that I had my surgery!!! GOoD LUCK TOMORROW!!!

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 07:53 PM   #11
    Catherine with a C
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    Sulynn,
    I have tried to think of some advice that has been missed......but, par for the course, the experts have given you the gamut!!
    The worst part of pre-surgery is the nervousness!!
    Breathe!!!!!!! Inhale! Exhale!! do this a whole bunch of times.......right into the OR room.
    Know that you are not alone.
    Please know that you are in our thoughts & prayers.
    Post when you can. Rest!!! Revovery is right around the corner. Stay strong & Be Blessed!!
    Catherine

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 09:23 PM   #12
    PsychLea
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    Yuck. The thought of just waking up after surgery makes me sick. I had a stomach operation and I physically CAN NOT barf. So you can be sure that the anesthesiologist and my doctor will know. Already talked to the preop nurse about it.

    I also can't tolerate nitrous oxide, makes me combative and agitated, so I always get something to relax me before going into surgery and always have injectable anesthesia. I also wake up combative after surgery and I am worried about that also. I made sure they knew that too.

    You asked some really great questions that I never even thought of. I should be more prepared, but I have been working so many hours, and have lost so many brain cells, that it is good to have others thinking for me

    Good luck with your surgery tomorrow.



    ------------------
    God bless,

    Lea

    C4-5 noncompressive disc displacement
    C5-6 compressive disc displacement
    C6-7 broad based disc protrusion encroaching on the anterioposterior aspect of the spinal canal.
    DDD
    ACDF with possible 2 levels on 5/13/03!
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    God bless,

    Lea

     
    Old 05-09-2003, 10:03 PM   #13
    TropicalFox
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    sulynn,

    may God guide your NS' hands and free you from your pain...

    i am 6 weeks post-op and have followed my NS' instructions to the letter, plus used lots of tips i learned here...

    i suggest an air horn so you can summon your minions and save your strength/voice... a small one because a big one is too loud!

    i also suggest you get up at least once an hour to walk around whatever floor you're on at the moment...
    this will prevent DVT (deep vein thrombosis)...

    and i must emphasize that you call in any questions or concerns to your NS, even if it menas going through an answering service... never underestimate your inner, core feelings... nothing you could possibly ask will be considered ridiculous or duuhhhh, and your complete state of wellbeing is of his/her utmost concern...

    take care of yourself hon... no one knows what's going on inside of you except for yourself.

    hugs

    sandra

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    " In the middle of every ocean of difficulty is an island of opportunity."
    Author Unknown

     
    Old 05-10-2003, 03:16 PM   #14
    Eugene2003
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    Sulynn,

    I have had two surgeries and neither were that easy to deal with. I had to dissolve my medication into a drink to be able to take my medication. It didn't taste that wonderful but it was the only thing I could do. I would choke on my medicine otherwise. You will be back to your daily activities soon enough. Take it easy for atleast a month or two. I went back to soon after my first surgery and had to have physical therapy for six more months. Hang in there and good luck!

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    EH
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