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ACDF Concerns after returning to work

frenchfriffrenchfri Posts: 325
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well I had another week of work as a teacher.(I worked the week of 2/14 then a week off and then this week of work). I find that I am totally exhausted, achy and at times in significant pain. I have been going to PT 3x a week for 2 weeks now. From here on in, I will go 2x a week. I am hoping that the pain and symptoms that I am feeling are just from the recovery, poor posture (I'm trying to be good) or doing too much. I get pain and tightness on the right side of my neck, pain down my cervical spine from the base of my neck to the area between my shoulders, burning from shoulder to shoulder and major knots in my shoulder blade area. I also get intermittent numbness along with coldness in my left hand and fingers and heaviness in my left arm. I go back to the OSS on 3/14 for my 3 month visit. Hoping to see some bone growth this time. I have all of this written down in the journal that I have kept since the surgery. (The journal of concerns, questions, symptoms and changes is something that I have kept since coming home from the surgery. I highly recommend it since I found my memory is shot. I bring this journal with me to any appointment so that I can keep the answers to all my questions in the same spot.)

Would love to hear if others are having similar situations.
12/9/2010 ACDF C5-6 C6-7
DDD, severe arthritis
2/14 back to work as a teacher
at 6 week check no bone growth
bone stimulator 4 hours a day
PT as of 2/21
still concerned


  • Good post as I plan to return to full time work next week and would love to hear others stories too about working after this surgery, making sure you don't do any further damage and are still able to fully heal and work. I wish you the best as you already are working and still having pain and exhausting days ..
  • Good Post! I am headed back to work tonight for the first time since surgery. I am concerned myself about how I will hold up....have to return "full duty". I work 4 10hr shifts per week on graveyard shift. My PT warned me that he felt for the first month or so I would probably be spending my days off recovering and be quite sore. I hope that is not the case...but still having some aches since surgery I have a feeling he is right. I will keep my fingers crossed for now & let you know how it goes.
    Take care,
  • I think this would be a good topic to start a new thread. Maybe we could get other peoples suggesstions as to what worked for them. :)
  • Hope you had a good (painfree) 1st night back to work or as painfree as possible! I am going back next week and a little nervous about the increased pain and exhaustion but also excited to get out of my house!! Good Luck and Take Care!
  • Oy Vey! Last night was not pretty at all. I usually start feeling achey come late afternoon or evening. Needless to say by midnight last night (only 3 hours into my shift) I wanted to cry. The pain was so bad. And of course no breaks in between medical calls I received throughout the night! I am hoping beyond all hope that it is simply because it was my first shift on. I am hoping that after a good day of sleep today that I will be able to function without all that PAIN! At times the pain seemed to be just muscle pain, tightness, and spasm....but a few times I got these terrible twinges along my spine...scared me a bit I have to admit. Maybe when my hours are readjusted to the graveyard schedule I will just experience my normal acheyness when I am finishing work in the morning??? Maybe it was made worse due to first night back on nights and being tired???? Boy I hope so...corrections nursing is not the area to not feel good!(and I am the only medical in the building at night so its not as if someone can pick up some of my slack for me) I am nervous but am going to now take a pain med (can't take them while working) and a muscle relaxer, and try to get a good day of sleep!
    I wish you better luck than I have experienced after only one shift back! Maybe 8 weeks post op is too soon as the Dr. suggested??? I guess we'll find out.
    My best wishes to you all! I am sorry if this is a bit on the whiney side...I generally try to be more positive.
    Best Wishes,
  • I understand where you are coming from. I went back at 10 weeks as a teacher. I worked for a week and then had a week off. I also thought it may have been to early. I can tell you it does get easier and less painful. 8 weeks is early especially if you have any lifting to do. I was able to take some meds while working that did not interfere with my ability. Are you sure that there is nothing you can take that will not interfere with your ability to do your job? You have very long and strenuous days. Please be careful Keep us posted. You are allowed to be whiny and complain if needed. We have all been there and done that. I know that walking around and doing simple neck stretches and shoulder exercises helps with the pain, spasms and discomfort. Good luck :)
  • well, the rest of my shifts this last week weren't as bad as the first. I think some good days sleep helped. Continue with the aches and soreness but was dealing with that ok....that is until friday middle of the night when i got really ill. As luck would have it influenza A decided to pay me a visit...which earns me some nights off work...but not the restful kind I would like. Need to change my mojo....someone suggested killing a chicken, swinging it over my head & singing "Dancing Queen" might help???lol
    Hope you are all doing well,
  • Jaila, I am so sorry for your recent health issues. Hopefully you will get a few restful nights even if they are medication induced. I am 1 month ahead of you in recovery. Just got the best news, there is some bone growth YEAH !!! I can now wear the bone stimulator less than my 4 hours. Also got a script for medical massage and a location that accepts my insurance :) Looking forward to my first massage.
    Feel better
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    After my first two level ACDF (failed) I like the tough guy I am went back to work full time no restrictions after 12 days (I was clueless) and the office was so suprised to hear that someone wanted to go back to work .... they gave me a rubbber stamped Drs note to go forth and make money.

    Within 6 weeks everything start to go to H in a handbag. Pain was out of control, started seeing specialist after special after being told by my surgeon that "fusion and lack of pain" could take up to a year. Well after 1.5 I finally found an ortho who said ... non0union - another blown disk .... and we need to redo the whole shabang front and back.

    Was in the hopsital for 9 days - ICU 3 .... again after surgery I went back to workfor about 3 months on limited duty .... was terminated from my position because I could be flying around the country like before. I gave up and filed SSD. ... For some crazy reason I thought I could stay handle another job ... I was offerered one and figure if it was G_Ds will that i work ... I would .... so I would take my meds in the morning ... drive my 14 miles and proceed to work the obiliatory 10 hour days .... taking short acting meds through the day.... then 14 mile drive home ....more meds to make me sleep (even though I was exhusted ... i was in more pain)

    By 9 - 10 months I was mentally and physically fried ... By 12 months I somewhat engineered my termination ... I refiled SSD again and now its 13 months later and I go for my hearing next month.

    There is no doubt that the surgeries and pain and meds and physical restrictions have rendered me disabled. I love what I did .... did it for 30+ was and was very good at it. Extremely hot field now .... but I simply can't do it. I am in the process of losing everything .... but in retrospect its better that that year I spent trying to make it work ... with a body and brain that wouldn't.

    I have the greatest respect for those of you the can do it (go back to work) I tried twice and now know that my number one job now is simply surviving with the surgical and physical obsticles that have been bestown upon me.

    Best of luck and life to you both ... hang tough ... but remember sometimes you may have to let go.

    Warmest Regards,

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  • Well influenza A has left the building! :)
    Needless to say work is t'ed off...I know it looks real great going back to work after 8 weeks fmla only to be back 4 nights and have to be off again due to the flu (you know there are of course those non-believers that think it is some sort of scam I concocted to get more time off---hell I can't control what they think so)...but it's not like I wanted to get sick. I have heard others complain from time to time about their immune systems taking awhile to kick back in post surgery. Hoping the bad luck ends here. I really need to be at work without any more problems...if I want to keep my job that is. (& I do)
    Had my follow up ct scan this morning and meet with surgeon tomorrow...really hoping things are progressing as they should!
    D...sounds like things have been very trying for you! I wish you the best!!
  • Glad you are feeling better. You certainly had a double dose of bad luck when you returned to work. It is amazing what some people think or say. Going back to your line of work at 8 weeks must have been difficult. Hoping that you have a smooth transition back to work and you continue to feel better. I am now at 14 weeks and had a tough day. I had to sit in front of a computer and complete paperwork for 4 hours. Ice has been my best friend since I got home. Unfortunately I have to do the same amount of time on the computer tomorrow. I do not know how people who sit in front of a computer all day actually make it through the day. Teaching the rest of the day was tough. Thank goodness I have wonderful kids. Hope you h ave a great day. Our spring weather has been a wild ride. One day 70 and sunny the next day will bring about 3 inches of snow. The joys of March. :)
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