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back from 2 level acdf, was a little harder than i expected!

aardvark85308aaardvark85308 Posts: 52
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Since I've read so many of these, I guess its my duty to pass on my experience!
We arrived at the hospital at 0530 for an 0730 surgery. It was for a c5-c6 and c6-c7 fusion. Both me and my wife were very nervous. The paperwork was done quickly, and I was left in the room to freak till about 7am;) The surgical nurse, Dr and anesthesiologist made their Pre-scare appearance. I found out my graft would be a metal mesh as opposed to a cadaver bone. The anesthesiologist assured me she would absolutely know if I showed signs of waking up;) this was one if my major fears during, and my fear of not post ;)
Once the formalities were complete, I had time to say, 'hey, did you already sneak something in there?' The anesthesiologist laughed and said yes, a little of the good stuff to help you relax...it worked, cuz I don't remember anything until someone was changing a collar on me. I had gone in at 0745 and was wheeled into post op around 1pm. I found out later that my bones were soft and they had difficulty with the screws. (hence a collar for three months) ... I can't remember the spacer material they used for the graft, but its supposed to be the same filter material used in fighter jets, which I find pretty cool;)
I barely remember recovery, and remember being taken to my room..I heard my wife talking before I got in there, so that made me feel good.
The pain was intense in the neck and shoulders but I had NO pins and needles in my fingers. That was so exciting!!! So The first day was mostly pain management and sleep, and waking up needing pain management. Day two (which I expected I would be going home) was pain intensive as well. I believe we tried soft breakfast and liquids, but it was like I didn'ty know how to swallow any more. We tried more liquids that day and same result, lots of choking. They had removed the iv and after a day of failures, the next night and morning I had extreme pain and fever. I was pretty scared something was wrong, though the incision looked rediculously good (more like a scratch).
After more drugs I was put back on an iv. Had xrays of my chest, and more pain meds, as well as meds to help things move along. It was still impossible to eat or drink. I am allergic to morphine, and had a severe histomine reaction to dilaudid (extreme itching). So they kept trying different meds. They tried fentanyl?? Fenta-something....as well as pills, which had to be broken up...anyone ever had Lortab smashed and mixed with applesauce? It wasn't pleasant for sure!
So day 4 came and I was able to eat a little and drink a little. That meant I could be taken off iv...by now my arm looked like a pin cushin. but since I hadn't been able to go number 1 the day earlier and they threatened catheter, I pretty much had to learn how to do that all over again...it surprised me how difficult it was!!! But number two was the problem, and since I didn't want to offer mineral rights to those who wanted them, I took every med offered to help that along. Once again I had to have xrays and ultrasouds to prove something had to be done...by the time the US was going for hockey gold, I was accepting Olympic gold for my production ;)
By the evening of day four (feb 28) I was eating, and providing great evidence that all systems were processing and were a go!!! So day 5 came and after talking to the surgeon, phisio, and speach therapy, issued my Grabber and back washer, I was released about 7pm on march 1st!! The first evening home was great. The first night was horribly painful....but by 6pm today I have new pain meds that I hope will give me a good nights sleep....I have to wear a collar for three months and have fighter jet parts in me...how cool is that! Thank to all on this board, I'm sure I'm not out of the woods yet and will have more questions, but at least I know where to get the answers! You guys rock! (well..you guys metal;)


  • Great to hear, :) Sounds like your on your way.

    Good luck ;)
  • Thanks for the update. I haven't had cervical surgery, but I guess the throat is the biggest problem in early recovery. Just remember to be patient with yourself and with the process. Healing will take awhile, but at least you are through the worst of it and on the road to recovery.

    Keep your sense of humor through it all! A positive attitude really does help.
  • Sounds like your going great guns.
    With the drugs your on and jet material on board, you'll be zooming around the room in no time 8>
    Keep up the good work and sense of humour.

  • Sounds like the beginning of your recovery journey was a bit rocky, but hopefully you are onto smoother ground now, and can continue along at a steady spead for the rest of the journey.

    Perhaps we should be talking about a smooth flight without turbulance as you have fighter jet parts in you now!

    Keep healing, and thanks for sharing your story with the rest of us. It was good to hear from you, as I was wondering how you were doing.
  • Welcome home! As much as you sounded like you were in pain, you seem to have a real upbeat attitude!

    I've heard Dilaudid does make people itchy. It probably was Fetynol they mashed up (so hard to remember everything when you aren't feeling well). As for going #1, the bladdar and bowel are the last to wake up from surgery, especially in men. Glad you 're-learned' that. As for bowels, I found colace helps some people.

    Your anasthesiologist was good to give you something to relax you. They did that on my first surgery and I remember being so worried (hubby was allowed to stay until right before they wheeled me in) and I remember telling them my hand hurt still from the IV drip and then saying "I won't care in 2 mins will I?" When she said no, I said ok, no problem. The 2nd go around, I barely waited so got to check out the OR and all the 'chat' ahead of time. I wouldn't let them put me under...they knew I was worried b/c I kept turning my head from the 'knock out' mask. THey finally remembered I told them I wanted to SEE my doctor before I went under. They sent his chief resident over and at that point I had to relinquish control.

    I'm glad you are home and they got pain med cocktail that seems to be working.

    Keep us posted! Keep up your attitude...and remember, you are just like a fighter jet...POWERFUL!
  • Peter,

    Good to hear you are home and all is going well. Now just be sure and follow the instructions. Don't zoom to fast with those new parts, but do get that walking in. It is my experience that we will see some do good for awhile then have a minor set backs, so those are normal. But if you feel anything just isn't right don't hesitate to call your surgeons office. Now that collar is a bummer to wear but you only want to do this once, so just make some fun out of it and time should zoom by for you. Good luck and glad to hear your doing so well. Take care.
  • Sorry you went through so much with your early recovery but your humor has rubbed off on me! I hope you heal completely with jet parts in you making you stronger. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I'm sure this is normal healing, but I have a new pain in my left arm...its a stabbing deep pain that does not reduce with meds. Is this normal and will it go away? What meds are successful against it? I still have no numbness in my hands, which is spectacular!!!

    On a lighter note, I took my first outside walk today...the weather was a beautiful 70 degrees with a slight breeze.....I know its prob not a good idea to be walking alone, especially since vultures were circling overhead (for real;) . Is it safe to walk alone? I don't think a vulture would eat me cuz the neck brace prob tastes nasty;)

    To all, be well, and thank you soooo much for the support!

  • freak me out! We don't have vultures here, but i've seen enough old westerns and Ice Age movie to know how they work.
    Hopefully they'd choke on the jet parts!
    Glad your on the improve.
  • Those neck braces get stuck in their throat and give a nasty lump so they can't swallow. Once they have had one, they never go for another one!
    Mind you, watch out for the vultures without a lump in their throat!
  • That made me laugh so hard it hurt ;) so funny. Hahaha...
  • Docs office today told me to take two percosets every 6 hours as opposed to two every 4 hrs (prescription bottle says 1 to 2 percosets every 4 to 6 hours)....my pain needs 2 every 4.... do I listen to prescription bottle or receptionist???
  • Given to the Receptionist? I heard when the nerves were wakening up from being compressed there can be nerve pain. Did the Dr. give you a muscle relaxant? Why would they want you to take less meds when you have pain? Go figure. I hope you're having less pain soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • It's prob from the doc. I think they want me to take lessor amounts of narcotic drugs, which is my wish as well....but my neck, shoulder blades and left arm especially are killing me...they hurt like a mf (monster frenzy;).its such a catch 22!!!
  • :D :D :D
    Just dropping a line to wish you well on your recovery.

    Hey, watch out for those birds, they do other things besides try to eat you, like leave a nice little present on top of your head!

    Take good care of yourself and keep everyone posted on how you're doing.

  • Thank you so much Judy! I think it is the positive energy from people like you that is so much more powerfully than any medication!!! The cool thing about not being able to look up is obvious....with giant birds, cone giant...well, you get the picture;) ... just keep my mouth closed and I'm good so long as they don't go for a deflection shot!
  • As I heal from my c5 c6 fusion with jet parts, I am getting an extreme pain in my left shoulder, especially when I lift my arm (i know....then don't lift the arm;).

    The pain is like being stabbed in the shoulder with a thin knife....and it is intense. I know my body is still getting used to this whole reallignment thing , but is this normal?

    I am really lucky to have this as my only issue this soon in my recovery...but its a biggy...when nerves have been compressed for years, or neck posture changes completely is this a byproduct? If so how long can it last? I have been cutting back on the pain meds, maybe that's a cause?

    I hope everyone is having a great pain reduced weekend! A special shout out to gwennie17 who is being denied the awesomeness of these amazing surgeries...I can't imagine the stress you are going thru! And to Shari who always offers her selfless support, and to all the beautiful people on this board who have taken time to offer their support. These are genuine non-drug induced wishes to some very special people!

  • I am so bummed you are having so much pain, but I really do think it is from your surgery~it takes a long time for nerves that have been compressed to heal. That is the sucky part, waiting and hurting. I can't remember (I can't remember much these days:))if you are taking neurotin for nerve pain? It really does help! I think you are on a muscle relaxer. How bout ice? I have been icing the ---- out on my incisions the past 24 hours. It really does help. If ice doesn't help, maybe try moist heat for your shoulder.

    The only other thing that really helped me after my last surgery, was playing the wii.. Not an active game, but I played the Sims for hours and hours, during that time, I didn't feel my pain as much. Maybe you could do something for the baby~organize pregnancy photos, baby shower gifts, cuddle with your wife and watch mindless movies,~not a lot of time for movies after the baby gets here!

    Sorry friend that you're in so much pain. I am too, so I just try to get form one round of pain pills to the next and I don't look past that 4 hour block.
    Hang in there and let us know how your doing! We are all here for you sending you positive thoughts and prayers! Shari
  • Sorry, I haven't posted to one of your threads yet so I'm a bit late in saying Welcome to Spine-Health.

    Congratulations on getting to the other side of surgery. I remember the collar - it's a real beaut, isn't it? I was glad I got to wear mine in the winter because it gets to danged hot under there! Truly made me hot under the collar.

    Have you tried any muscle relaxers for your shoulder pain? I'm wondering if you're having muscle spasms or if it's nerve pain. Muscle relaxers will help the spasms, but nerve pain requires its own type of med.

    Anyway, I'm glad you're home and doing well. It's a long recovery, but hopefully it gets better every week.

  • Thanks Cath,

    I do have muscle relaxants from a previous pain mgmt, but they said I can't take them while taking percoset and valuim....I know nothing about these things, so leave it to the experts!

    I don't really mind the collar now, but when the temps start hitting 100 plus, it may get a little steamy.

    The pain is still there, so ill try again to talk to the doc on Monday to see about muscle relaxants....I remember the doc saying some patients need soma and valium....I think I'm one of those!!

    I suspect its a combo of muscle spasm and nerve pain so who knows...

    I really appreciate the support!

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I see you had some Pain Management prior, are you actively treating with a Pain Management physician? After my recent lumbar fusion my PM doc took over pain management at two weeks post-op. That is SO much better as he totally understands pain and increased my meds to meet my needs. Then we'll work on declining them as I recover more.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • That's a great idea...my pm doc said that while I was under control of the surgeon they wouldn't be able to provide anything....so I have to wait. i want to be off them eventuall, by for now I need them.

    Do you know if u can take ambien with pain meds? I want to sleep,but I also don't want to get behind the pain curve!

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Call your pharmacist and your doctor about the adding ambien. In some cases it may be okay but it depends on what your full "cocktail" of current medications is.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Thanks, I will definitely do that...I'm a chicken when it comes to meds!

    Hope you're doing well!!!!

  • Keeping in mind, I'm not a doctor and this is just my own experience, while I was in the hospital, they offered me benedryl to help me sleep. I took it and I would sleep, but could wake up for vitals, meds etc. I forgot the first night home and was pacing the house around 3 am sobing in pain. Hubby quickly found some, have taken it each night since and it really helps. You could also ask about Tylenol pm.

    I agree with having your pain management doc as the one in charge of pain relief. I am calling mine in the morning. He knows me so well , respects me and understands my pain levels. I'm unsure how much pain I'm expected to endure~I'm only on narcos. I find that several times in a day, I am crying as I hurt so bad. I'm hoping he will tell me I don't have to have so much pain. Something for breakthrough pain would be good.

    Hang in there Peter and hopefuly you'll get your pain control sorted out! Shari
  • I just had my first two week post op. Ive got valium for the muscle.stuff and percs for the pain. Just put a heating pad on my left ARM (unaffected side) and seems to be helping. My neck seems.to be perfectly straight now...it hasn't been that way in years, so I imagine that's where a lot of.the.muscle pain is.coming from. It used to.lean to the left!! I'm pretty amazed!!!!

    Well Tue valium is winning the will of.the eyelids, so talk later....lots of.love and.wellness wishes!!!
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