Hi everyone. I am new here and simply looking for some tips and some folks that may understand what I am going through.
I will try to make my story as short as possible.
Starting approximatley last May while training for a sprint triathlon I started having left shoulder pain. It initially felt like a stinger. Progressively this got worse causing a deep ache all the way down left arm and numbness to thumb, forefinger and middle finger. At times it would feel as though my shoulder itself was going to dislocate. Over this time I noticed muscle atrophy and my left shoulder now sits approximately 1/2" to 1" lower than right shoulder. My MRI showed : moderate to severe spinal canal stenosis, bulging discs, osteophytes, congenitally short pedicles, and severe foraminal stenosis. My neurosurgeon made a major point of letting me know in no uncertain terms that without this surgery I was at a increased risk for severe and permanent spinal cord injury with what for most people would be a nothing incident. I immediately worried about the what ifs for my husband and daughter. I am only 39 and pretty healthy. Needless to say 1/5/11 I had C4-C7 acdf with cages and titanium screws...no plates. I stayed in the hospital only 1 night...they let me go home after the drain was removed. I was only given a soft collar with instructions to wear it when up walking around, in crowded places, in the car, and while sleeping if I wished. I do wear it while I sleep because quite frankly my husband is a bit of a thrasher in his sleep so I feel safer with it. While just at home taking it easy I don't have to wear it.
I am currently taking Norco 10/325 & Robaxin 750.
I have found the Robaxin to be the most helpful because I am experiencing incredible muscle spasms in my upper back between my shoulder blades. At least I am assuming it is muscle spasms. This pain from spasms is much worse come afternoon and can be unbearable at times at night. I really thought I would be doing much better by now. I am out of work for a minimum of 5 weeks due to the type of work I do. He had said that some people go back as early as 2 weeks depending on their job. I follow up with him beginning of Feb for xrays and will find out at the time if I am released to work. I have to go back to work full duty as there is no light duty available at my job. At this point I am thinking I must be a wimp because I don't know what kind of a job I would have that I would feel I could currently do at this stage. I never thought I was a wimp before and in fact declined any pain meds pre surgery just anti-inflam & telling myself I needed to toughen up. I tried to cut back my pain meds a week after surgery and was in misery so I started them back at regular intervals. I am again trying to taper the meds back and have decreased the Norco to every six hours and only 1 Robaxin every six hours. My daughter accidentally bumped the back of my head (relatively lightly) last night and the pain was awful! My voice is mostly normal at this point. Minimal difficulty swallowing although sometimes out of the blue things get stuck in my throat. It does still feel as though I am swallowing past something (still swelling in there I am sure). My incision is healing nicely and there is minimal discomfort there. It does feel strange with any movement of my neck and I can only describe it as not only limited, but it feels thick & doesn't feel like me. I was prescribed a bone growth stimulator and received it yesterday. Per post op instructions I am allowed to drive at this point although I haven't yet. I have read some of the posts on here but a lot of them were from folks having 1 or 2 level fusions...
Am I just being wimpy? some people with 2 level per there posts seems to be a lot farther along than me by now.
Does it take longer to recover from a 3 level vs 1 or 2?
Is it too soon to try to cut back my meds?
Is this pain between my shoulder blades normal? or could I have already screwed something up?
At what point do others not sleep with the soft collar on? I do have a tempurpedic bed & pillow.
Any help, insight, suggestions, or advice would be greatly appreciated.