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2 Years Post-Op Cervical Spine/Anterior & Posterior

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I haven't written in a very long time because I just feel like when I write I am just whining. Today is my two year anniversary of my cervical spine surgery and while I know that I am in much better shape tonight than I was two years ago tonight,I am certainly not where I thought I would be. The first year was the worst, but now I guess I have to resign myself to living in chronic pain. My surgeon feels the surgery was a success. It did what he set out to do. But I, the patient, have been left with daily pain that builds until I just can't wait to crawl into bed where I can lay my head down. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not thinking about my d*mn neck. It just really hurts. I was going to massage every week, then every other week, and now every three weeks or so. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference - it helps for a while but doesn't last. I am taking muscle relaxers at night (zanaflex) and pain meds when I don't need to get behind the wheel of a car. It seems like a heck of a way to live. I know that I am not alone and that many (if not most of us) live like this. I guess that is why I knew I could write about this anniversary and you would all understand. If I told my family what this date was they would look at my like I lost my mind.

I am so depressed by the way this surgery has changed my life. I realize that NOT having the surgery had a laundry list of risks that the doctor told me about, but he never told me that I'd be left like this.

Thanks for listening.



  • I hear you and understand completely. I just had my 3 year anniversary on the 18th; it isn't something to celebrate, is it? You aren't whining. It is good to have someone to talk to, and this is the place because so many of us feel the same way you do.

    I have been fighting acceptance of the new me, but recently I have been working on learning to like myself as I am. You said you are depressed about the way your life is changed. Me too. But now I am trying to figure ways to enjoy some of the things I used to do, even if it is only in a small way. For instance, I love to sew, used to be a wonderful seamstress and enjoyed sewing clothing for my children, and doing different projects. Even tackled a formal gown once. However, because bending my neck down while working really does me in, I put my sewing machine away. Recently I got it back out and am learning to piece quilt. 10 minutes at a time I am sewing again, and loving it! I just know that if I do more than the 10 minutes my neck is shot, so I work for 10 minutes, stop and rest my neck (ice, pillow, etc.) before going back later. I may only get 10 minutes in for a day, or I may have 2-3 sessions, but eventually I will have a beautiful hand-made quilt. Of course I'll be an old woman when it is finished, but it is satisfying, and has helped me to see that with adaptation life is still enjoyable. So my advice would be to try to find something you enjoy, and take time for yourself. It does help with the depression. Life is definitely changed, but it isn't over! Good luck, and I'm here if you need to talk.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Hey pup,

    Wow has it really been 2 years already. I can remember us discussing your surgery when you had it done. I certainly can understand how you are feeling. Your right that others don't understand how this feels most days, but we all here get it and understand. I am happy to see you post again. You have been through a lot these past two years so give yourself more time. If i remember correctly you had surgery on your arm or something like that during that time frame as well. But my memory is not what it used to be either.

    Cindy, gave some good advice about finding something you used to like to do and do it in moderation. Albeit small it will give you something back. Also feel free to jump in on some of these post. Lots of newbies getting ready to under take what you had done and could use some advice and personal experiences. One reason i keep posting is to help others, through my experiences. Another thing that may help is to find a chronic pain support group in your area. While they may suffer from other conditions it would give you some day to day contacts with others living in chronic pain. Take care pup and glad to see you post again. Pm me anytime, I am always here for you.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I too feel as you do, acceptance for the new me was a hard thing but I am moving forward and slowly learning my dos and donts. It seems there are more donts in the equation but I stay positive by just telling myself it could be alot worse. I like you did not have a choice with surgery(4), the consequences could of been severe had I not proceeded with correcting the problems. I look at it this way. I am one of the lucky ones. Yes I suffer daily pain, some days worse then others but I am alive. It is nice to have a place like Spine Health to come and vent, whine and even bi##h because unless you have lived our daily hell you could not possibly understand our struggles. So if you need somewhere to do all of the above feel free to do it here. I can guarantee just about everyone on this site understands and will be very supportive during your hard times. I hope you will find some relief with your pain and things get easier for you.
  • Thanks so much for writing back. I feel so alone. But getting responses from you has helped me feel like someone hears me. I will try to think of something that I can do that will not aggravate my pain, but I didn't have hobbies before surgery since I had just finished up homeschooling two of my sons right before all my surgeries and that took up all my time. I am at loose ends and don't know what to do with my life. My what a whiner I am. I was just a full time mom and now I am unemployed!! My most pressing thing in the day is to get dinner ready. I was never into crafts, although my sons and I did a ton of them as part of their schooling. I have done a lot of volunteer work, but I hate to commit since I never know how I am going to feel from day to day.

    Well, again, thanks for writing. It cheered me up just to hear from someone who understands what I'm going through (and a special HI to Tamtam!!)


  • It's awful when you feel guilty about complaining - I mean when I think of my alternative - if I'd not had surgery, where would I be? Certainly in a worse position, I'm sure. No bladder control, excruciating pain if I happened to move wrong...

    And, I know I don't have much to complain about when I compare - but this whole concept of getting used to the 'new me' just struck me very strongly.

    It's been just over a year for me. My DH was gone for most of the year in Iraq and he has come home to a different wife. I feel bad having to remind him -

    Like when we go get some new work-out shoes for me - he heads to the jogging stuff and he really gets excited about being able to go jogging with me - all the virtues of the light-weight shoes and how great it feels to run in them. Yeh, right, I have to remind him that I don't think I'll ever run again in my life - ESPECIALLY not recreationally!

    Then I try to get a swimsuit for a family activity (I would avoid this if I could) and as he is pushing the bikini's on me and I have to explain to him why there is NO WAY I'm going to choose something that shows my back scar. If I was privately sunbathing - maybe, but in the general public??!!!

    And this on top of the waking him up every night (accidentally) as I spring from the bed and attempt to walk off/prevent/minimize the increasingly severe nightly charley horse cramps.

    I just hope that hardware removal can actually help with the daily backache. I would love to have even just one less pain hotspot.

  • Hi pupmomma,

    Being "just a Mom" is probably the hardest job on earth, and you homeschooled your kids? Wow, I applaud you for that. Whenever I think of homeschooling my 2 girls I break out into a flop sweat and panic!
    Depression and chronic pain seems to go hand-in-hand for most of us. We need diversions to stop us from constantly focussing on the pain, but this is not always easy. Do you like to read? When I became a Stay at home Mom I felt like my brain was turning to mush so I started reading some of the classics: Anna Karenina, Tess of the D'urbervilles, War and Peace etc. Or easy reading like the Janet Evonovich series, quick reading and always good for laughs. Jodi Piccoult is another excellent writer, you get sucked in to her books by the first chapter. Wish I had more suggestions for you, hope you feel better.
  • I know having a place to vent is crucial. I wanted to know if you exercise, eat well, keep a good weight and followed all your doctors post surgery rules. I had surgery about 4 weeks ago and hope I have some control on my outcome.

    I was told I would be stronger than I was after my accident. I would have to give up running and contact sports. The doctor did tell me this wasn't to fix my pain it was to make my neck stable and to prevent nerve damage. I've had pain off and on for 17 years but that didn't stop me from being active. I'm hoping my pain is not worse from the surgery.

    My neck feels weird now like it's heavy and my neck is super stiff but I think that's because I was stiff before the surgery and my doctor likes you to have limited movement for the first 6 weeks. I hope this is not how I will always feel.

    If I do end up like you and continue to hurt I hope I can keep a good outlook. I think often of my brother who was like me VERY active and he got Parkinson's in his early 50's. He got mad for a day and then got into the "how do I deal with this" mode.

    It's hard to read about people struggling after 2 years but if I end up like that I know I'll be grateful you shared about your situation so I won't feel a lone. So thank you.
  • Please don't call it whining - you're venting and we all need to vent. I doubt that there's a member here that hasn't had plenty of those days where it feels like everything's a struggle and is just plain sick and tired of it all. But it's wonderful to have a place like Spine-Health where everyone understands and holds your hand through cyberspace.

    I've got a 6-month-old Corgi puppy named Wally and if it weren't for him I think I'd have a lot of days where I'd just stay in my sweats, lay in the recliner and let my mind go numb watching TV all day.

    It's amazing how much you've gone through - your poor neck. Have you ever thought about writing a blog about your experience? I would bet there are a lot of people who could be helped by your experience and might even, through you, find the strength to finally face surgery.

    Anyway, I'm sending a big and gentle hug to my sister in neckiehood. (That's not a real word, I just made it up.) Take care and keep us posted on how you're doing.

  • Pupmomma - feel free to talk about how you're feeling here. We know pain. I wondering if there isn't something more the docs can do to make you more comfortable? I've seen people who eventually had their hardware removed because it was found to be causing them pain. Have they run any tests or done an MRI to see if there is a new or different problem causing your pain? I know none of us wants more surgery, but sometimes it is warranted.

    I'm only nine months out from surgery. I get horribly stiff and still go to physical therapy once a week. For quite a while, even though the therapy felt good, it wasn't doing me much good, as I would get all tensed up even just an hour or two after each session. A few months ago, my therapist tried a new technique (at least for him) on me. It is called Graston Technique -- it uses metal tools to sort of washboard the knots out of the muscles and connective tissues. I cannot believe the degree of flexibility it has returned to me. I still get stiff, but this really has helped me to have better posture and less pain. I do not know if it would be an option for you, but you might want to ask your doctor about it.

    I know doctors can't cure everything, but in this day and age it seems there should be something that can help you be more comfortable. At any rate, just know that we understand how you're feeling.

    All the best,

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of all of you. I guess I feel better thinking that I was venting rather than whining. I know that I had to have the surgery two years ago. Didn't have too many alternatives that I was willing to live with, but my surgeon released me six months after surgery and I haven't seen him since. My family doc has been the one who has prescribed pain meds for me. He has been so understanding about the lingering pain that has been a result of my surgery. The orthopedic surgeon didn't have much in the way of people skills and I think if I went back to him he'd probably blow me off since the surgery did fix all the things he set out to fix. I just don't understand why it still hurts so much. If it is hardware I don't know if I could go through the agony of going through that surgery to get it removed. What a nightmare.

    Well, thanks again for all your wonderful suggestions and kind responses. I don't feel so alone in this journey.

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