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Post-op report: ACDF c5-7

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hey there - I'm now 4 days post ACDF c5-7. Recovery has been a bit tougher than I expected, so I'll keep this brief for now.

Morning of surgery went smooth and efficiently. Met with many of the surgical crew and nursing staff while laying on the gurney. Was wheeled back to the OR on time, was introduced to a few more folks inside and then the next thing I know I'm trying wake up in recovery.

I was in the OR for two hours and then in the recovery room for two more...I struggled with nausea, but did not throw up. According to the surgeon bone spurring and compression were much heavier than anticipated.

Was taken up to a private room, where the next few hours were really tough. I had very bad nausea, anxiety, and a very sore throat, likely from the breathing tube. Swallowing was very difficult. I avoided using the pain pump due to being anxious and the nausea (from recovery through the first 12 hours post op, I only hit the button four times).

After getting some anti-nausea meds in the IV I began to feel better. I was also able to get up to go the the restroom and take my first walk about 5 hours post op. I didn't touch lunch (broth and other liquids), and only had a few spoonfuls of dinner.

The nausea wore off over the remainder of the day, and I took a few more walks and sat up in a chair for a few hours. I started to hit a wall 12 hours post op, and went back to the bed for the evening. With another dose of anti-nausea meds, I felt better about using the dilaudid throughout the night, about once every 90 minutes. I was reclined at about a 45 degree angle, and I probably slept 10-15 minutes every few hours.

The next morning I was taken off IV and had my first percocet. While the throat was still very sore and swallowing very difficult, I managed a few bite of scrambled eggs. After a few chats with the nursing staff and my surgeon, I was on my way home.

More to come regarding days 2-4 in another post....



  • glad your doing good. yea between the vicadin and morphine right after surgery i was a bit nauseus. i only aske for tylenol after a few vicadin. it gave me a headache. i was completely off pain meds after 1 week. i take tylenol once in a while now. i had surgery c4-6 on nov 13. i exercise daily. and it doesnt bother the neck. so take it easy.
  • Happy to hear that your surgery is over & that you're home again. Just take it easy.
  • that the surgery went well. I remember vividly how rough the first few days are. I had the nausea as well, and plenty of vomiting that first night. I only took pain meds for the first few days, as they made me nauseous too. Hang in there - there are going to be days where you feel great and other days where you don't. Listen to your body...that was the hard part for me, and still is. I overdo it all the time.

    Hang in there!
  • Picking up from the original post...Friday morning.

    Taken out in a wheelchair by a hospital volunteer to the curb and got in the SUV....thankfully, an uneventful ride home.

    While I consider the nursing care I received day 1 to be excellent, it was still great to arrive at home. I settled in on the couch, propping myself up with a variety of pillows, wedges and blankets. The wedge quickly became uncomfortable, so I ditched that and stuck with pillows at different angles.

    My appetite has been good since day 2, and I started out with mostly liquids or soft foods (Carnation Instant Breakfast, mac n cheese, soup, tons of applesauce). BM frequency has certainly been an issues. Had my first minimal one on day three and another yesterday. I'm taking stool softeners and lots of fiber additives.

    My pre op plan was to minimize the percocet and other pain meds, but I had the concept of "staying ahead of the pain" drilled into my head so much that I've been trying to be compliant. Day 2 I took a pill every 5 hours, then spaced it out to every 6 and 8 hours over the next few days. Not sure what's behind it, by my pain, mostly tightness and stiffness, has really worsened in the last day or two, so I reduced the percocet interval back down to every 4-5 hours. I'm on the verge of inquiring about a muscle relaxer, to see if that will help with the ramped up pain.

    My hoarseness and sore throat was a lot better by the end of day 2, but I've been dealing with swallowing issues that I would say have gotten only slightly more tolerable. It's actually not as bad as I thought...any food that get's stuck goes down with a bit more effort. What's been more concerning is the general swelling in my throat and the fact I've had preexisting breathing issues pre op. Sleeping for sustained periods of time has been mostly impossible, because of both the pain and discomfort, but also the breathing issues.

    One of the more annoying issues has been the large bandage over the incision site. The steri strips are no problem, but the big adhesive bandage that goes over it (and is changed daily) has created a lot of skin irritation and has added to the feeling of restriction. After the edges of the adhesive started to pull my skin off yesterday, my doc gave me the OK to skip the bandage.

    I'm in a soft collar, but I've been trying to reduce my time wearing it so I can work on stretching and range of motion. After I period of time out of the collar I do want to get back in it for the stability, and for the fact that my head feels like a big bowling ball or watermelon.

    I've tried to take a few walks each day, but not as much as I planned pre op. Only today at day 5 am I ready to hit the treadmill for more than a few minutes.

    So far I'd say this has been more intense of a recovery than I expected. The first 6 hours were bleak and a bit scary, but I think it was an overwhelming combo of surgery, anxiety, and disorientation. I felt like I rallied over the next day or two, and over the past few days it feels like a lot of soreness and tightness has set in. My approach for now is to take it day by day, really hour by hour. I'm looking at the time now as an investment in my health and recovery. I prefer to be back to my activities and working, but I figure if I'm smart now I'll have a better overall outcome....

    Take Care,


  • Hi again OBX...

    I'm glad to hear that you have the right attitude about your recovery. The time put into healing is definitely an investment. I had a very difficult time sitting still for the first few weeks, but I am so glad I did. I went back to work after 7 weeks, and only worked 1/2 days for a 2 weeks. I was so glad that I took that time as well. My stamina was really low!! This is my second full-time week, and I am still wiped out by the end of the day.

    I would love to be back to normal activities too, but I understand completely now why I am limited. It's difficult with the summer weather arriving. I want to be out on the boat, swimming, etc. But I'm afraid that if I push it now then I may hurt myself in the long run.

    Continue to hang in there - it's worth it! Taking it hour by hour is the best idea!


  • ...also thanks everyone for the responses and support so far!!

    Yesterday (day 6) turned out better than anticipated. I was in a lot of pain (neck and head) by the end of the previous day and was ready to ask from more meds, but the intensity gradually lightened up, and this morning I am feeling somewhat better.

    Not sure if this is due to taking my longest walk yet, having my first post op shower, continuing to focus on stretching, using the heating pad, or a combination of all those factors. Whatever it is, I'll take it.

    The throat continues to be bothersome, with mild soreness and constant swallowing issues, plus I have a frequent cough. Seems like the swelling and tenderness around the incision site and the throat in general continues to improve.

    Plan for today (day 7) is to continue the regimen of "what's worked" so far and to increase slightly the intensity of my exercise and stretching program. I'm going to continue taking the percocet, and will likely switch to plain tylenol within a few days.

    I will also "test" my endurance at work-like activities (sitting in front of a computer, typing, talking on the phone, writing, thinking, etc). My preference is to return for at least partial days starting Monday, but I want to be ready and not over do it.

    Working up this post has helped with a few of the "tests", and I can tell you I need to take a break after only a few minutes!!

    Take Care,

  • Keep a positive attitude and you will be fine. I know this sounds nuts at this point but give yourself goals every day and do not let anything keep you from getting it done. I think the more exercise you get the better you will feel, that worked for me. I had a better than normal recovery and was feeling great at day two. I am now a few days past 6 weeks and feel as if I had nothing done. For me it was ALL exercise.

    Good luck with your recovery, I know you will do fine if you keep a positive outlook!
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