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S for StacySS for Stacy Posts: 35
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Well, it's 2 weeks post-op now, and I've got the very same kind of neck/headache I was having before surgery that I was hoping desperately the surgery would do away with.

Does this mean the surgery didn't work? If I went through all that for nothing, I am going to be just sick.


  • All I can say is patience, patience, patience (and call your surgeon if you're concerned).

    You're only two weeks out from a major, 3-lvl cervical spine surgery - do you know what they did in there? Part of what they do is put a halo on you and pull your head away from your shoulders with 20 lbs. of pressure to open up space to put in new discs. If that's not going to hurt for a while then nothing will.

    Seriously, you really are trying to hurry this way too much. I doubt you'll truly feel a whole lot better until after about three MONTHS. I had a 3-lvl, same ones as you, and it simply takes time to feel better. It's way too early to know if you're fusing, if this surgery has worked, etc. But try to think of some other things that have improved since your surgery, such as any arm symptoms you may have had or things along those lines.

    My heart and thoughts are with you. I know how tough this is, but hang in there. We'll be here for you and you can PM me for support any time. I'm not on a lot, but enough to be helpful.

    And as always, if you feel something is wrong, never hesitate to contact your surgeon - that's what they're there for.

  • Cathie, thank you for your answer. I haven't even had my first post-op appointment yet, so I'm not sure what's normal and what isn't. (It's a week from today.) I guess I've heard so many people say they were "fixed right up" and "never had another problem" after their surgery. So when these "old familiar" headaches started coming back, I just started to panic.

    I had fever yesterday (about 100F) but that's gone today, so don't know what's up with that. My incision looks fine. I emailed photos to the spine doc (nurse's request), and they never got back with me, so I guess they weren't too worried about it.

    But it helps to know it may take awhile before I know for sure. My husband keeps telling me that if all it did was keep the degeneration from progressing that will be a good thing, but I really want the pain to end, or at least be drastically reduced!
  • I am 4 weeks out of my 3rd fusion and this time they replaced a disc and separated the vertebrae to do that before they fused them. So I am in a similar situation as you. I am still in pain where they separated the vertebrae. It is the first time I had that done and my other 2 fusions seemed to heal more quickly and I keep trying to compare them but I shouldn't. So don't give up. It takes a long time. Good luck.


    Spinal stenosis, spondolysis, spondolythesis, L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion with instrumentation and bone graft from hip, L1/S1 fusion with replacement disc put in, PT, accupuncture, prolotherapy, many cortisone injections, 4 rhizotomies. Currently on tramadol which barely touches the pain.
    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • My dad was talking to a woman at our church who had this done a couple of years ago. She said that once the steroids started wearing off on her, she started having pain again for awhile, which I guess makes sense.

    Can that also cause a feeling of pressure? I've had a bit of that in the back of my neck/lower head area today, too.
  • So today I feel a bit better, but still have a sort-of "pressure" feeling in the back of my head, and as I mentioned in a separate post, the difficulty swallowing thing is bugging the heck out of me.

    I really wish my doc had told me more what to expect.
  • So today I feel a bit better, but still have a sort-of "pressure" feeling in the back of my head, and as I mentioned in a separate post, the difficulty swallowing thing is bugging the heck out of me.

    I really wish my doc had told me more what to expect.
  • Recovery is really tough. Are you wearing a hard collar? You are VERY early in your recovery. Unfortunately you will have good days and bad days. When I was at this stage I was still in pain, sleeping on the recliner and eating mainly soft food. Do not hesitate to call the surgeon's office and ask for a call back or to move your appointment up. I called my OSS a few times early on because I was concerned. I tripped up the stairs once and thought I moved all of the hardware and did permanent damage. Then I had a stomach bug and did the same. The office was great, put me on hold until someone could talk to me and asked if I wanted to come in then. We were in the middle of a snowstorm so I didn't want to get in a car, but they reassured me that unless I fell down the entire flight of stairs the hardware was fine. So after rambling, yes the pain you are in is most likely within the normal range. Being patient was not one of my best qualities. But we need to be patient with our body. It has been through a horrific ordeal both before, during and after the surgery.
    Try to take one day at a time. Keep a journal of all of your symptoms, how long they last and what you take or do it lessen them. Have them when you go back for your appointment. Write down all of your questions. I have a journal (spiral binder) from a year prior to surgery and continue with it to this day.

    *************************************** **********
    12/9/2010 ACDF C5-6 C6-7 with plate, screws,
    BMP & bone fragment filled cages
    2/14/2011 trying to go back to work as a teacher
    2/17/2011 starting PT
    wearing bone stimulator 4 hours a day
    DDD, arthritis, herniated disks, pinched nerves
    3 months saw a little bit of bone growth (YEAH)
    4/15/2011 Home Tens Unit

    Dealt with the pain and issues for more than 5 years
    tried PT, chiropractic, acupuncture, cervical epidural shots and selective nerve root blocks prior to surgery
  • That's good info, FF, thank you! I think I got a bit thrown off track by all the people who I know who've come out of the woodwork, either had this same surgery themselves or their sister/brother/aunt/daughter-in-law/etc. had it, and "never had any more pain!" So I was hoping I would be one of those.

    Of course, now I realize they probably "never had any more pain" months afterward, not immediately. So I still may be one of those, at some point.

    Right now I just hate feeling like I'm choking all the time, and this collar (plastic and foam, but still pretty freaking rigid) is making me insane. And I really haven't cut myself much slack for having had major surgery. Guess I've forgotten what "major" means in this case. I haven't had anything "major" since my C-section almost 18 years ago! I'd forgotten how flat it can knock you.

    Funny thing about the collar -- I wore a Milwaukee brace for 5 years in jr. high and high school (22 hours/day for the first year, then after school for the next, then to nighttime only), and I honestly don't remember hating it as much as I hate this collar. I'm sure that's selective memory, or it could be that I hadn't had surgery (which is basically the same as having my throat slit) when I got the Milwaukee brace, so there wasn't that added feeling of choking. Not saying I would go happily back to that brace, though!

    So, thanks to this forum I'm feeling more hopeful. I just need to be a bit nicer to myself and realize this is going to take awhile.

    Thanks so much for y'all's encouragement!
  • My son is going to be 18 in a few months. He's off to college and won't be around to carry the laundry, groceries or do the shoveling this next winter. I'll have an empty nest. At 6 - 8 weeks I think you will notice a difference with your energy level, sleeping swallowing and general physical state. The more you are able to walk ( I couldn't since I has my surgery 12/9/2010) the better off you will be. Do yourself a favor and keep a journal so you are prepared with questions and leave room to write your answers. Don't assume you will remember. Don't let your surgeon rush you through your appointment.
    Good luck (Keep your chine up LOL) Just a little humor.
    Have a painfree and relaxing weekend. :)
  • Thanks, FF! My son is graduating in another month, then off to college, too, although thankfully he chose the university here in town (about a 45 minute drive from our house). Still, I won't be able to count on him to help me out if I still need it by then (he's my only, so I'll be an Empty Nester, too). Also thankfully, my parents live just up the street, but I hate making my dad have to do so much for me. Mom's health is bad (neck problems, worse than mine, as well as fibromyalgia and some other things), and they're both almost 80, so I feel kinda bad when I have to have him do too much.

    Anyway, hope your weekend is great, thanks for the support!
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