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Having an Anterior Cervical Discectomy 4/1 - Will I be home for Easter?

sparkledctssparkledct Posts: 120
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Good Morning All. My surgery is fast approaching for an ACD on C6/C7. My doctor told me 1-5 days in hospital stay. I am hoping for no more than 2 so I can be home for Easter morning with my 3 children. Is this realistic? Please anyone who had this can you let me know how many days you were actually in the hospial and what deterimines the 1-5 day span?? I am super nervous so info would be appreciated. Thanks so much!


  • Someone was nice enough to correct my error. It is cervical so they said c6/7. Sorry everyone I do not know much about this stuff.
  • I had a 3-lvl ACDF on a Tuesday and came home on Wednesday. If you have no complications, then the decision to release you is generally based on your being able to control you pain with oral medications rather than a pain pump, and being able to pass the various tests with the PT person (climbing stairs, getting in and out of the bathtub on your own, etc.).

    Be sure to have all the post-op stuff ready for when you get home, like straws, soft foods in case you have a sore throat or trouble swallowing for a bit, a grabber tool, maybe some premade meals in the freezer, etc. You can check the post-op must-haves sticky in the surgery section. You won't need everything there as some are specific to lumbar surgery, but we can all help you with what you might need also.

    Do you know if you'll be wearing a brace?

    Take care and don't hesitate to ask more questions or PM me if you'd like.

  • I saw the list they had for things I will need and it wa a bit overwhelming. Cause I have no idea what I will really need and what was back related. How long were you really laying in bed and such? I have already heard about being able to eat afterwards and it sounds like a bit of a challenge. I feel like I am going to freak out half the time cause my nerves are just shot at this point. I want to just cry.
    I want to be home and be able to take care of my kids and go back to work etc.. Any more info you have to share with me would be great. Was your surgery recent? Thanks, I need someone that can ease my mind a bit cause I think I am close to loosing it.
  • Awww, Sparkle, I totally understand how terrifying it is to be facing cervical spine surgery. It's something that I'll never forget and that's why I like being here to try and help someone like you. I have truly walked in your shoes and I can tell you that the anticipation is often worse than the surgery itself. It was for me and many members here. I also know that it's no comfort to hear that now, but I'm going to bet that you'll say that when come back here after your surgery. :-)

    My surgery was on Oct. 21, 2008. I was up and moving just a few hours after I was brought to my room. I didn't have a catheter, so I had to walk to the bathroom and for some reason, I had to go about every 45 min (quite annoying).

    You'll need the things I listed above. Do you have a recliner? Most neckies live in them for the first few weeks because laying flat when you get home can be difficult. Mine is still my home base. You'll want to set up an area where you'll be "parked" when you get home and have a table near to keep your pills, a drink, magazines, games, etc.

    I didn't have a big problem with swallowing after my surgery. I was eating pork chops the night I came home (my hubby makes perfect pork chops - yum). I was wearing a hard brace, so the bendy straws were a big help because I couldn't tip my head back.

    A shower seat is also very helpful as you shouldn't put your head back when you take a shower and wash your hair. My hubby helped me with my showers for the first couple of weeks, so I'd sit on the stool and he'd wash my hair and help me wash.

    You'll want to be up and walking as soon as you can after you get home. Start with short walks and keep increasing the distance as you can. Walking is great exercise for recovering spineys. What you might find difficult after the first couple of weeks is the boredom. You'll have restrictions (no BLT - bending, lifting or twisting), and after a while you'll feel like you can do more than you should. If you do that, then you'll learn the hard way and pay for it by having increased pain. So make sure you have things you can do within your restrictions. I have a Nintendo DS my hubby bought me and that helped keep me busy. I also joined Netflix and watched a bunch of movies.

    Do you have plans to have someone with you 24/7 after your surgery? Are you going to wear a brace?


    PS If you're really freaking out, like I did, call your surgeon and see if he'll prescribe something to help keep your nerves calmer, like xanax. My surgeon had no problem before either of my surgeries doing that.
  • Also, when you're in the hospital, if you're in pain tell the nurse. They may want to change the med or increase it, but there's no reason to suffer while at the hospital. Make sure they keep you comfortable.

    And when you get home, take your meds as prescribed to stay ahead of the pain. Don't let it get ahead of you by missing a dose because it's difficult to get it back under control.

  • I have my pre-op appointment with my family doc tomorrow so that she will release me for surgery so I was thinking about telling her about my mental discomfort.. I am itching and have headaches and am just a mess. I do look forward to coming back to the boards and being a help to someone else after my surgery like so many people here have been for me. I do have a recliner in the corner of my living room that no one has ever used so I guess I can camp out on that for a while. As far as the neck brace if I remember right he was saying I would not have one so I guess I am not really sure. And I wont see the surgeon again till the actualy surgery so who knows. Still feel sick to my stomache thinking about it, but I know it has to be done and wonderful people like you guys help us new ones get through it. Thank you so much!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    In the U.S.A. the stay for a 1-2 level ACDF is usually 1-2 days at the most, more than that requires insurance company approval. I was offered a second night and took it as I wanted the comfortable nature of the adjustable hospital bed.

    With my ACDF I did have to find a comfortable chair at home as that's where I spend most of the time during the day. I'd say the first week at home I was in bed a few hours a day. For me comfort was based on my Aspen Collar. One of our reclining chairs just hit the collar in the right place so I spent most of every day there for the first few weeks. I have no kids so it was all just about my recovery. I don't know how you moms and dads do it.

    I do have a shower chair (had that for years and it's been helpful so many times). I had swallowing problems for about 4-6 hours after surgery. Cepacol lozenges helped and by the next morning that was no longer a concern.

    If it helps, I am a veteran of a ton of surgeries from orthopedic (knees, back, neck , foot) to some abdominal stuff (gallbladder removal, ovary removal, tubes tied, etc). Of ALL the spine surgeries I've had the ACDF was the least painful and easiest to recover from!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • It sure does help, thank you. Two days tops and I would be home to see them hunt for eggs. Already told my teenager he is playing easter bunny this year (hiding the eggs for the other two) I am a single mom with 3 kids but I will have good support from my Mom, Dad and Ex hopefully enough to get me through this and back to work in 2-3 weeks. I appreciate all the comments and help you are all just the best.
  • I'm just wondering how your pre-op went. Please let us know what happened.

  • Hi Sparkle,

    Hopefully your appointment went well today. Don't worry to much that your surgeon doesn't have you in a brace. Depending on why the surgery is being done typically refers to why a collar is worn or not. We have had plenty of members who didn't need a collar or brace. The good thing about not needing one is you won't have as many muscle issues as with those who need them. They typically will weaken the muscles. I lived alone at the time of my surgery and only spent 18 hours at the surgery center. I also had used my bone and I did ok by myself. One thing you might want to do is have some meals all ready made and frozen so they can just be microwaved. You will be able to sit with your teenager and direct him on the meal prep and it will be easy on him. Walking is going to be your best friend. You might want to look on the internet and find a walking program that will have some measurable goals. You may want to invest in a pedometer to measure your distances. I hope all goes well with surgery and let us know how the appointment went today. Take care.
  • All went well yesterday. My EKG, Blood etc all looked good. I am not getting much support from my family doctor on my anxiety issue (she told me to call the behavioral health number on my insurance card) and the surgeon refers me back to her when I called there for help so I guess I am going to have to deal with the nerves on my own (which is awesome)
    Surgery 3 weeks from today and not looking forward to it more and more as the time goes on. Thank you all for your support and concern as it really does help and give me comfort (which is MUCH needed right now lol)
    My next appointment is not until the day before surgery at the hospital (which I guess is with anestesia or something) so I am on my own till then. Do you think it would help if I started drinking..lol :)

  • but I have been having a small drink in the evening which is helping me to sleep and feel less stressed. I am not usually a drinker, but a glass of something is definately helping.

    I wish you well sparkle for your surgery.
    I have a lumbar fusion on 19th March.
  • Jellyhall, I feel for you so much. I know how stressed I am with mine being 3 weeks from now. If it was next week I think I would be loosing my mind. Is this your first surgery? I was mostly joking about the booze, with all my meds it would probably kill me before the surgery even gets here. I just wish I could relax and sleep. I am scared to go into a surgical procedure feeling so exhausted already. Lord help us. I wish you the very very best of luck next week :) Stay strong because we have no choice...
  • Hi Sparkle-

    I had my ACDF (C6-C7) 2 yrs ago. I too have some anxiety issues. I was terrified of this surgery. I was soo afraid of the throat pain afterwards...the scar...on and on...If you can think about it, I worried about it,lol. However, the surgery all went well, I had minimal throat pain, way less than I had imagined. (I heard someone on here say they thought it had to do with the level you have done....maybe lower cervical fusions have less throat pain??) I am not sure on that one. I did get nauseous coming out of anesthesia, but they gave me something for that, then I was fine.I only spent one night in the hospital and was discharged the next day. I didn't have a collar or anything. I was in less pain after surgery than before...I am sure it is not that way for everyone, but for me...It immediately took the radiating pain away. I think the worst part about my initial in-hospital recovery...was the anxiety. I worried so much about even the small movements. After I got over the initial anxiety and was home for a day or so, things got much better. I agree with the idea of having some meals planned out ahead, as that was very helpful.Good luck and don't be afraid to ask any questions you may have...Best Wishes, Jeanne
  • Thank you for writing. Your story makes me feel better. Some people have a fairly good time of it, some people on here not so much. I am hoping to be on the easy end of things. I have my mom who lives one street over as well as my ex husband who will be helping with the meals etc. I will make sure there is alot of quick fix kind of food on hand before the big day. How long did you have to go without cooking. How about going back to work. Is two weeks reasonable or am I just crazy thinking that might happen? I am so thankful for this board!
  • for your good wishes.
    Yes this is my first surgery since I was 3 and had my tonsils out!
    I am actually surprised how well I am coping with the anxiety. I do have days when I feel very stressed and can burst into tears over the slightest thing, but most days I am quite calm. I had been stressing about making the decision about having surgery, for the last 18 months or so. I just couldn't decide to go ahead with it. Then my surgeon told me that if I tried to continue to avoid it, I would end up in a wheelchair. That made the decision much easier to make. Now I just keep thinking of that alternative, and I know that I don't really have a choice!

    My faith is also helping me a great deal. I have people all over the world praying for me to have peace about this. I am trusting Him to look after me.

    I have been told that I will probably be in hospital for 5 nights and will be able to go back to work in a school for the new school year, in September.

    Hope that you are having a good day today.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    What type of work do you do? I would think that your surgeon might recommend at least 4 weeks out of work. I had a c5-C7 and had an Aspen Brace for 6 weeks so I returned to work at about 6.5 weeks post-op for my sedentary desk job.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I do customer service/sales so it is a desk job. Typing and phones. I think the surgeon just said 2 weeks was possible to make me feel better... I hope to get back in 2 weeks though :(
  • I will be thinking about you and praying for you next week. What are you having done (it looks like back procedure from the letters listed above but I am not good at understanding all that yet)

  • Yes, I am having surgery on my lumbar spine.
    Discectomy and laminectomy to decompress my cord and nerve roots, then bone graft in a cage where the disc was, and then pedicle screws and rods to stabilise my spine while it fuses. This is all at L4/L5 where I have the spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebra).

    Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. I would really value them. O:)
  • As contrary as this sounds, sitting at a desk job after an ACDF is extremely difficult. I really would plan on at least 6 weeks. I wasn't able to go back until 8 weeks and then only part time for the next four weeks. Some days I could only make it a couple of hours, and sometimes six.

    You better tell me that you have a headset for your phone at work - you don't tilt your head on the phone, do you? Because if you did, you won't any more.

    I know I told you that I was also terrified before my surgery, but with the pain, tingling and numbness symptoms, I had many days where I wished the surgery was the next day because I just didn't think I could take it any more. So, use your pain for motivation, if you can. Many of us woke up after our ACDF and all the arm stuff was completely gone. It was a fantastic feeling.

  • Cath,

    As for the phone at the office, you know I totally sit with my phone on my shoulder typing away (most days when the pain lets me) I already told work I was going to need a headset when I return (which I could have used 6 years ago when this whole thing started). Maybe if I cannot make it to work I can at least be able to work from home. Did anyone have trouble typing after the procedure?? I am praying god will take it easy on me and let me get home and back to work soon.


    You hang in there my dear. The anticipation is the WORST. It is making me crazy as well but . Treat yourself to the most relaxing enjoyable weekend possible. Eat all your favorites just in case you do not feel like it for a while. Spend time with the people in your life that give you comfort and remember we are all here for you! Hugs to all!!
  • Hi Sparkle! How old are your 2 youngest children? I ask because if they are not in school, you may want to recruite your ex and you momma to help because for a few weeks you may be unbelievably tired, with frequent naps.

    I am 2 weeks post op 360 Lumbar fusion L4-5. It was originally considered urgent and scheduled 12/23, only to be canceled the night before. My insurance wouldn't even consider approving the surgery until I had a pyschological eval. I was horrified and angry! I had to play along and so I had the evaluation. It really was helpful. I was afraid it was to weed me out, but actually, it was to help me with coping skills for after surgery. I think you should call your behavioral health services. You would probably need a visit or two, but then you could get some meds to help with anxiety, sleeping,etc. But, you just may also get some help with realistic goal setting and maybe discharge planning.

    I wish I could be there to help with your children. Be sure to ask for help. Asking for help is difficult for me, I have always been the care giver. But this surgery has taught me the value of being able to allow others to do for me and to help!

    Hang in there, cuddle your kids a little extra, have fun getting all the Easter basket stuff together, enjoy the beginning of spring! We are here for you! Shari
  • My kids are 15, 12 and 6. Problem is that my surgery is spring break week so they will all be home. But my Mom is great and my Ex will help out with whatever he can (when he is not working or in school)My mom or dad will be with me at all times I am sure until I am feeling a little better and my 15 year old is really good about helping me.
    Maybe I should call the behavoral health line on my card. I think I was offended by the implication, I am not crazy I am just scared you know. But the way you put it maybe it really is something that is necessary. I am going to do it. Thank you for that encouragement. Who would think I would need mental help due to having surgery.
    I hope you are hanging in there. Back surgery will be coming down the road for me too so I will definately be calling on all the lumbar people for advice then too. I only have 2 bad discs in my neck - I have 5 in my back so that will be a good time I am sure. What a long road we all have but I know it will be worth it when I feel human again.
    By the way, I have been stocking up on the easter stuff (went a little lazy this year with everything going on and bought some of the prestuffed eggs - what a lifesaver those are going to be). My 15 year old already knows he gets to be the easter bunny this year. :) Thank god for teenagers (Did I just actually say that..lol)
    Thanks so much
  • I know it feels/seems offensive to have to use behavioral health services, believe me, I really do understand. But, if it is the key to getting a little help with the jitters that come with spinal surgery, it is well worth it!

    My first back surgery, I didn't know it was an option, and I suffered the day of surgery! I was so nervous, the thought of someone opening my spinal cord was more that I could take. But, the good news is, you don't have to suffer. There is help out there! I'm glad you have made the decision to call. Let us know how it goes! Hang in there! Shari

  • It is Mother's Day on Sunday here in the UK, so I'm sure I'll be spoilt and have a good time.

    We had arranged for my daughter, husband and our granddaughter to come for the day, along with my Mum and partner. Sadly my granddaughter has got Chicken Pox and although I've had it, the hospital said I should keep away until she is over it as stress is likely to have lowered my immune system and I could get shingles.
    My husband will collect my Mum and stepdad though, so that will be lovely. Unexpectedly, my youngest son has come home from university this weekend, which is great.

    I am slowly getting things arranged for post surgery.

    Great to see that you are online again. How is your recovery going?

  • Sparkle...you are holding up well from what I can read here. You are very prepared and confident that your family will be there to support you as needed. That's half the battle.

    As for anxiety, I guess I was "lucky". Because I ended up in ER with my lumbar herniation (L5-S1), I left there wil muscle relaxer and pain med prescriptions (that I didn't want but they told me I'd be back to the ER if I didn't take them).

    So I took them as needed. The valium is a muscle relaxer but an anti-anxiety med. It probably helped me before my 1st surgery. Would your surgeon offer to call in a small prescription for 1 pill per day?
    I don't know what other meds you are on but remember - alcohol doesn't mix with any tylenol based med (including percaset).

    But, let me tell you, I came off all meds before my 2nd surgery. I had to come off ibuprofin and decided to come off percaset since I was only taking it 1X every 3 days and then maybe a Valium once a week. The good part of that was that since I did that 10 days before...the 2-days before, I decided a nice glass of red wine and a warm blanket by the fire place was a way to relax. I also took some short walks to clear my head (though it was more talking my frustrations and fears outloud so no one at home could hear).

    You will do well. It is so true that the anxiety of the unknown...the waiting, is the worst part because it's just that...waiting. Once you have surgery, you are doing something...you are healing.

    Good luck.
  • Hi JellyHall! One more week and this will all be behind you! It is so lovely that Mother's Day is this weekend! Perfect! I hope you have a great day!

    I'm doing well. Little by little. Started P.T. today. I'm a bit surprised to start so soon, but I'm glad as I am so deconditioned. It will be very slow. At first, just waking up the nerves, muscles. It is Spring here, I have Spring fever and just wish I could go!

    Take Care all! Shari
  • You guys are all so great. I am trying to read through and answer the questions. I am calling the behavioral health on Monday (I will let you all know what I find). I asked the surgeon first and he does not prescribe anxiety meds even for the day before so no luck there either. I am on probably the same type of stuff as everyone else. Vicodin ES every 6-8 hrs flexeril 10mg 2x a day and I take a 1/2 (25mg I think) or Sertraline at bed. Now I have not taken the muscle relaxer in weeks and no pain pill for the last couple of days. I figured I would respond better to the post surgery meds if I got them out of my system now. So I am just sucking it up for now to help me in the long run. I do not drink or smoke so I think I am doing everything I can to make this as easy as possible. Hope I am doing all the right things... You are all so wonderful and I wish you all great health in the not too distant future.

  • Melissa, what type of muscle relaxer is it?
    Valium is a muscle relaxer but also considered anti-anxiety.

    It's ok to take valium prior to surgery. They just want you off the anti-inflammatories but of course double check with your doctors.
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