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Need advice 3 weeks post op 4 level acdf

jrfrostyjjrfrosty Posts: 23
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Desperatly need help. After 4 level acdf c2 through c5 still having major swallowing problems still cant swallow solids only liquids. I have lost more than 20 lbs also still have swelling at certain times of the day ie if I sit up or walk to long and at night and in morning. NS had me go in for xray and saw minimal swelling but at the time I had been lying down. Dont know what to do I can't lose anymore weight. Do I ask dr NS to do another xray at the time I am swelling. I can feel when it is swelling. By the 5th day after surgery I was so swollen that I couldn't swallow at all doc put me on high dose steroids and was going to put me back in the hospital if the first does didn't work. thankfully it did but when I tapered down to 3 a day it went right back to where it was so was on for another week after dropping down to 2 started again but not as bad. He doesn't want me to take any more steroids because of possibly hurting the fusion. Also pain has almost been unbearable. Cant sleep over an hour or 2 at a time and the stress and being hungry all the time. I never thought it would be this hard. Any advice would be helpful. I really thought I was stronger than this. Sorry for the long post. Thanks everyone for listening.
Julie Rafn


  • I can't help you with your cervical issues (sorry), but I suggest you buy yourself some hospital strength Sustagen (I hope that is what they call it in the US). It's basically a high fat, high nutrition drink that people are given in hospital if they can't eat and need to sustain their weight.
    You should be able to buy it at the chemist.
    I hope you improve soon.
  • I think here we have a few call boost or ensure it has alot of vitamens and protein that is mostly what I have been drinking and some soups. Hubby trys to put as much fat and calories in anything I drink.
    Julie Rafn
  • I'm sorry to hear this but I would let your surgeon know how you're doing and see what he can do to help? Also the ensure have puddings available also. Are you able to have popsicles that may help with the swelling? I would even consider an ENT Dr. to help but it sounds like you're so early out of surgery. I hope other surgical spineys can help you. I pray you get better soon. 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
  • Oh that sounds awful. Question for you: Did the surgeon use bmp (bone morphogenic protein)? This is a very controversial subject, and there is evidence of severe swelling and swallowing issues when it is used anteriorly. Here is a link, scroll to page 7 to read about bmp in the cervical spine.

    Please don't think I'm saying that is what is going on with you. Swelling is a risk of this procedure whether bmp is used or not. Just wanted to point you to some information.

    Popsicles sounds like a good suggestion. Would give you some sugar calories and feel good on your throat. The cold may help with the swelling.

    If you want, I'll give you 20 pounds for the 20 you lost. In fact, I'll give you more--just tell me how to do it! Ensure, boost, slimfast mixed double strength and mixed with ice in a blender--yummy and nutritious, carnation instant breakfast, all of those things could help. Be prepared though, ensure and boost aren't very palatable. If it goes on, you may consider having an IV for nutrition.

    I hope things settle down soon. You made the statement that you thought you were tougher than this. Please don't compare yourself to anyone else's recovery--we all react differently. Just do the best you can and don't stress yourself out over how tough you are. I'm sure you are doing just great at handling this!

    By the way, I think C2 to C5 is considered a 3 level. C2-3, C3-4, C4-5. At least that is what my docs told me, 4 levels fused together but 3 discs removed, C5-6, C6-7, C7-T1=3 levels for me. but hey, it is all huge, no matter how many levels.


    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Thanks cindy I did have the bmp with my own bone he took from my neck. I did have 4 level c2-3, 3-4, 4-5 and 5-6. NS did worn me about the severe swelling. First couple of days was pretty swollen and dr said it was going to get alot worse by day 5 or 6 and it did. It was so bad by the 5th day that I couldn't even hardly swallow water don't know how I even got pills down (that was a nighhtmare). NS really stayed on top of it, he called me everyday if not twice a day. If he wasn't calling his assistant was. That is why he put me on the steroids. He called the next day and asked if swelling was down because if not he was going to readmit me to the hospital. It was going good until I got off of them. Thanks everyone

    Julie Rafn
  • I haven't had a cervical fusion, but I do feel for you and hope you are feeling better. After my lumbar fusion, and didnt feel like eating I took chocolate ensure and got it really cold. Also if you have someone that can get frozen fruit and make smoothies for you in the blender, that would taste good, be cold for swelling and also nutritious. And if you need some weight, I will be happy to email you some of my extra from laying around with my back hurting. (I really need to lay off the m&m's) Here's a gentle hug, get better, Take Care, Robin >:D<
  • I would take a few pounds if I could. At least I had a little extra to get rid of but 24lbs now is a little bit to much for only 3 weeks. I didn't relize how I looked until I looked in my parents full mirror. If I could just tone up the belly a little bit would look mity fine lol. As far as the ensure hubby found that the boost has more vitamens and calories. I love mocha lattes so hubby decided to add the boost with it. So with the half and half and chocolate syrup probably get some cals from that. He has been so awsome even when I don't feel like eating he pushes and adds everything can to add cals. I am so blessed to have such a good man. I couldn't have made it this for this long with out him. I know it is hard for him since he is also a spiney with a cage that has broken apart. He has been a saint.
    I am so glad I found this site. And getting into the toughness of it I am one that usually always has a positive attitude. I thought when I had my brain surgery and cancer was hard this really seems to be much harder. What I am kind of scared of is that I won't be able to do the things I used to do. I love my atv. I lost out this whole last summer of riding and camping fishing and shooting. OK I know I am rambling just alot of stress with this neck thing and my daughter took our 7 month old grand son to the dr and they think he may have cistic fibrosis. Thanks for listening
    Julie Rafn
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