Today is 5 weeks since my two level ACDF.
Just finished my third week back to work. This week included a round trip cross country (4 hour) flight.
I was concerned about the air travel. Worried about sitting in the same position for many hours with limited head-rest. I am 6’5 so my head is often higher than the headrest. Also mildly concerned/curious about whether my plating would set off the metal detector. It did not and all went well.
I am very pleased about my recovery so far. If I never get any better than today, I will still be very pleased with the results. I have always been a good healer and am relatively young (mid-30’s) so I seem to have bounced back sooner than many. For this I am very thankful.
I am no longer taking any regular pain meds. I talk vicodin occasionally as needed.
I have just finished my first week without my neck brace during the day. Although I was cleared to stop wearing it, I am still using it during the night. I can't believe I ever got used to that thing.
I started driving last week. Still very nervous about getting into an accident. More so riding with other drivers than when I am driving. I am a very careful driver.
I no longer have any of the severe pre-surgery pains on my left side.
I have an off-again, on-again dull headache behind my left eye. My right side gets a knot under my shoulder blade regularly. My neck muscles are very stiff and sore by the end of the day. I occasionally get muscle twitches in my left tricep. My range of motion when I look to the right has not fully returned yet.
None of these residual problems are remotely close to my pre-surgery issues. I feel as though I have a new lease on life. It is my hope to be able to resume many of the sports I used to play. However I am not sure I will ever play golf or basketball again.
One of the other issues I am struggling with is my physical conditioning. In the 3-4 months prior to surgery, I was forced to stop any physical exercise due to the pain. My muscles have definitely atrophied (not just on my left side) and I get tired very easily. I do not feel as though I am ready to resume cardio even though my surgeon cleared me for low-impact cardio (elliptical, cycling, etc.). I want to give it another few weeks before I try.
Mentally, my biggest issue is fear. Pre-injury I was very gung ho. I played high-impact sports, wrestled with my kids, and enjoyed life. Now I am always worried about getting hurt, falling, causing additional herniations, etc. I know that my life will never be exactly the same but am looking forward to rebuilding my body to where I can handle daily living without fear. I look forward to holding my children (1 & 3). They don’t understand why daddy can’t pick them up and carry them around. My son tells everyone, even strangers, that “Daddy’s hurt”. It is cute, embarrassing, and sad all at the same time.
To those with upcoming procedures, stay strong. There are no guarantees in life. All you can do is make the best of what you have. I know that everyone heals differently but good recoveries do happen. For those that read my long ramble, thanks for listening. Not many people understand cervical issues and reading/posting on this site was and continues to be a good help.