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  • cervical fusion's (& throat problems)

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    Old 08-07-2003, 11:02 AM   #1
    kitty7's Avatar
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    Exclamation cervical fusion's (& throat problems)

    Hi, i'm new to this site, just came across it yesterday. I myself am going thru a bad time right now due to a multi-level cervical fusion. Most of my spine has been operated on/and or fused.. Just born w/a bad back. So, now in my late 40's, I was well read and familar about fusions of the spine,
    I trusted my doctor, he'd performed my last 4 operations, and I wouldn't let anyone else touch me. I still think he's gifted, I do believe that doctors sometimes forget who their patients are outside of the operating table are though.
    Anyway, the surgery was almost 9 hours, I'd put it off 3 years, not only due to being scared, but due to having needing the lumbar done first since it had actually broke. So, the day came, we did the surgery, spend a week in the hospital, my hip bone was used w.cages, 8 screws, 3 plates, levels C4-5-6-7. But from the minute I woke up, all I complained about was my throat, right from the onset. It was like they had left a piece of instrument stuck in it. And my voice, it'd changed, deep, rough, scratchy. Well, the doc. said, give it 3 months. Ok. In 3 months, he said, give it 3 more months. OK. At 6 months, he said, give it 3 more months, no better, we'll send you to a throat specialist. 3 months later, he said, give it a couple more months, if not better, we'll send you to a throat specialist. Ok. in 2 months, give it more time, if not better, we'll send you to a throat specialist. ok! OK< people, after 15 months, I literly had learned to deal w/the new voice and the pain, i quite eating meat of any kind since I choked on it all, I ate nothing but soft food, I lost about 25 or more lbs. But, I never stopped complaining, but, then neck started hurting more and more. Well, finally after almost 3 years, a mylegram was done to shut me up w/all the complaining, and it showed that the fusion had not taken on one level. Great, so now I needed a redo. But, right after that, we found out that something else was wrong. I was having more and more throat problems. So, before they could schedule the fusion, I needed to find out what was wrong w/my throat. The first thing I did was go to my family doctor. Well, they thought I had strep throat at first, then they figured it was the flue. What it boiled down to be, was remember that complaining I did for 15 months and no one send me to a specailist about? well,it seems one of the screws had been coming loose the whole time, and been pressing on my throat, and it had finally come loose and actually cut into my throat.
    So, my purpose of this note, is for a couple of reasons, first, if you think somethings not right, go have someone else look at it. Second, I was a smoker for almost 25 years prior to my fusion surgery's. I stopped, and I still struggle w/ it. But, I knew it cut my chances of a union w/ the graft if I kept smoking. Well, I still did'nt fuse even though I quite, but can you imagine what your odds are if you still smoke? And especially if it's in the cervical? And, god, do you really want smoke in your throat if something goes wrong? ........

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    Old 08-07-2003, 11:56 AM   #2
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    My reaction to your post was wow. I am still sitting here in disbelief . How horrible for you!
    You've come to the right place to voice your concerns.
    After my shock passes here I will write a more sensible reply. Until then~


    Old 08-07-2003, 01:37 PM   #3
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    Hi Kitty! So sorry for all you are going thru! Didn't your n/s take x-rays after surgery? You would think the problem could have been seen? You must have had some infection going on too? blood work ? if none was done I would consider this mal practice... Best wishes
    Always have dreams.

    Old 08-07-2003, 03:48 PM   #4
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    What a terrible ordeal for you to have gone through all that time when it was needless. I think this points out the importance of pushing your doctor, and/or getting another opinion when you don't feel your doctor is listening to you or acting on your complaints of how you feel. You see it so often here on this board where someone was treated by their doctor as if they were imagining they had a problem or that they were just appeased by saying give it more time, over and over. Thank God you finally found out the problem before it did even worse damage. Thanks for posting your story, I'm sure it drove the message home for lots of people that while they may have total faith in their doctor, they are human and make mistakes. Get 2nd, 3rd or even 4th opinions if you don't like what you are hearing.

    Old 08-07-2003, 06:22 PM   #5
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    Thank you for posting this. I am so sorry you had to go through this problem.
    I so appreciate it because I have a similar feeling 5 weeks post op. I am going for an xray in 2 weeks and back to my NS. I am hoping I am still healing but after hearing your story...I will double check everything. My hoarse voice has gone away for the most part but my pitch has changed and singing is out of the question. I do choke quite often while eating or taking medicine. Things seem to get "stuck" in my throat and I vomit because of the gag reflex taking over. Does this sound like your situation?
    Thank you again for the heads up.

    Good luck and God bless!

    ACDF 6-7 June 1998
    ACDF 3-6 w/ hardware
    July 2, 2003
    ACDF 6-7 June 1998
    ACDF 3-6 w/ hardware
    July 2, 2003

    Old 08-07-2003, 07:38 PM   #6
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    hi again,
    and thank you everyone for their kind words. A couple of you asked questions--let me say that yes, xrays were taken, and it was in a postion right under the vocal cord that it was hard to see that one paticular screw and the position it was sitting. It actually even showed up in the cat scan during the mylegram and was read as most likely "senosis"-(sp wrong) (narrowing in the spine)--so it all depends on the was in a very tricky spot. The only way to actually see it was w/a camera. Where I feel the orginal wrong doing came in was by the orginal doc. not sending me to a throat specialist the first year when I did all the complaining.
    I would like to point out to everyone that it is typical for the first couple to even up to 6 months for the throat to feel inflamed and for the voice to even take on some voice changes after this surgery that may or not return to normal. I brought up smoking because this may make matters worst, not only for the bonding of the bone, but for the throat area to heal but to keep infection from develping. And I've read that the throat is really tricky w/it comes to infection after a surgery. Another words, you don't want to go there.
    I was amazed to have read all the people whose doctors had already send them to someone to have their throats checked out the first couple to 3 months after their fusions. I thought that was great, but I must admit it made me more angry at my doctor for not sending me. I wish I'd come across this board the first 6 months of my surgery.
    So, I'm not tying to panic anyone the first couple of months post-opp surgery. What I am trying to say is if you go into 5/6 months as I did and you know something is wrong, then take it in to your own hands and have it checked out.
    As for the choke on food a bunch of times a day, I did, but not as I do now. The first year, I"d gag, and have to spit up, things like that. Now, I literly choke, where if i'm alone, i panic and actally wonder if i can make it to the phone to dial 911. I choke on a sip of water a dozen times a day. I can actually hear it, it's like going down a drain, and backing up. Yesterday I was eating oatmeal, some bits w/a baby spoon, and my hubby had to do that "H" thing where you put your arms around someone and squeeze? I can't spell it so I won't even try. But, i'd probally gone 30 second's without oxygen, and I was up and down waving my arms w/my eye's popping out he said. I freaked, and that happens very often. So, I'd very scared to eat much. And, I live off very soft food. I have to sip tea and stuff very slowly w/my neck bend as far as I can manage (which is not far w/a level not fused) and swollow that way. I have to sleep sitting up so acids from my stomach can't work their way up the hole into my throat. This has become quite a burden recently, so the problem does progress.
    So again, don't let me panic anyone, I only wanted to tell everyone to pay attention to your healing. Write it down if you have to. But again, expect some mild changes in the first couple of months. That is to be expected. Remember, your throat was not cut into, but actually clamped over to the side for as many hours as you were in surgery. That's a big deal.
    good luck everyone, and thank you again for all your kind words! I wish I'd had someone to compare notes w/a while back, it would have helped so much.

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