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New here--C4-5 acdf scheduled in two weeks

joyfulmomjjoyfulmom Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:54 AM in New Member Introductions
I have been "lurking" for a few weeks, getting info and answers to the many questions I have regarding my upcoming surgery. I have a disc at C4-5 that is compressing the spinal cord--the MRI said it had a kidney bean shape--not good. Thankfully I don't have cord damage, mainly pain in arms, neck, shoulders and general widespread pain.

Also bulging disc at L3-4 but no nerve involvement, just back, hip, leg pain. I had an ESI two weeks ago for the lower back, don't know if I will be able to have the second one b/c of the surgery.

I take neurontin, tramadol and skelaxin. I was dx with fibro three years ago and have had a terrible time trying to control the pain. The NS said many of my problems could be resulting from the cord compression so I am hopeful for a good outcome from the surgery.

I am 44, a wife, mom of four kids ages 19, 17, 13 and 11. Oldest in college and we homeschool the youngest three kids (although the senior takes community college classes also). My life is too busy for me to feel bad all the time.

I am concerned about post-op...I am NOT good at letting everyone else do everything, but I am determined to heal well. What about the BOREDOM??? I don't sit still well at all.

Looking forward to making new friends who understand what I am going through. Blessings to all!


  • Howdy, and a hearty Welcome to Spine Health!! Sorry to see you are facing cervical spine surgery, but 'hear' ya as they say.

    The key is 'healing' and taking care of yourself. Your kids are of the age that they can fully understand and help you out (no guilt) as you recover from surgery. I would look out at this stage at getting your health addressed, and yes...letting them help out.

    You don't want to push this off until "they are older" or something like that, and chance more damage. I have nerve damage, and it is NOT a fun time at all. Nothing could have been done in my case, it was a 'snap herniation' onto the root, but many put off due to not wanting to burden family members, and suffer nerve damage - the clock can't always be turned back...

    Take care of yourself, and then you can be there for years for your family in the comfy health mode. :)

    Don't get me wrong, I think it is admirable that you are thinking of them, but you have to think of YOU and such....fully heal and be there for them.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. so glad you decided to drop in! so you may be facing surgery but it could be your chance to be pain free! your recovery is so very important!! please be sure and follow all the doctor's orders.. that means you may have to delegate and let go a bit!! by now i am sure you have checked out the "Back and Neck surgery forum" for more input.. be sure and stop by the forum during your recovery.. it can make a long day go by alot faster.. good luck! Jenny :)
  • thanks for the welcome and warm wishes! My kids are totally willing to help, for that I am thankful. It's not so much them I'm concerned about, but ME lol. I will follow orders because I want things to go well, but I am just not a sit still kinda gal so I'm lining up lots of dvd's to watch. I can also listen to my ipod. What about reading? Is it possible to hold a book after a couple of weeks? What did ya'll do to pass the time? I know the Dr wants me up and moving around, but what do you do? I live in the deep south so it's upper 90s most days and walking outside is out of the question, especially with a collar:)

  • I too live in the "deep, deep" south - South Florida! Icky and sticky is the norm this time of year! (G)

    I know my surgeon wanted me walking around as soon as possible to help get my lungs more oxygen = better blood flow = better healing. I was told to "let my body" tell me what is good and not good. He did add to minimize leaning forward or aft, lifting more than the equivalent of a gallon of milk etc., until cleared.

    Book wise, you can hold it up to eye level, so that's not a problem, DVD's, your favorite soaps, resting when needed, a good diet etc. I found for me (and many here agree), the stress before the surgery is worse than the surgery itself. Hopefully you will awake with most of your symptoms = HISTORY! :)

    With my surgeon, my first post op was at the 10 days, and then 6 week mark. At 6 weeks he had me undergo an x-ray to see if the hardware was in place, and too to see if fusion had started. The next check was 6 months, and then 1 year. My surgeon unlike many, took care of my pain medications for over a year.

    I'm so glad to hear you have talked with your kids about it, and too, THEY are supportive and ready to step up to the plate. That there reflects on how you raised them. Good for you mom!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.

  • Welcome to Spine Health.

    Sorry to hear that you need to have surgery, although if you get the relief, then it will be wonderful.

    I also have cord compression from C3/4 and C4/5. My neurosurgeon is not planning to do surgery at the moment, but is doing x-rays and nerve conduction studies and will review me in October with a full spine MRI to see how things have progressed.

    Meanwhile he is referring me to Pain Management for ESIs.
    How did you find them? and did you get any relief?

    I haven't had surgery on my neck, but did find that the recovery from lumbar fusion was very long.
    I listened to my Ipod and my husband put the tv up high near the bed, so I could watch it while lying down comfortably. I wrote a short story for my granddaughter while I was off work recovering.

    Do you have a date for your surgery? (Just seen it is in 2 weeks)
    There is a list here of useful items to get for during your recovery. It can be found on the FAQs page. Press the tab at the top of this page.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better. :-)

  • The esi's on my neck worked a little three years ago (I had no cord compression then), but when he did the MRI this time I was sent to the NS before he did another esi, although I did have one in my lower back two weeks ago, but it didnt work well. I need another one but dont want to do it so close to surgery.
    My NS said we could possibly watch mine closely for a few months but that I'd need the surgery eventually and I opted to go ahead and do it before there is any damage from the compression. My cord looks like a kidney bean where the disc is pressing into it...not a pretty sight! I have dddand arthrotic problems in my lower c spine and most of the L spine, but nothing herniated or compressing cord. the MRI did mention an annular tear in one of my lumbars, not quite sure what the significance of that is, they just said my lumbar hadnt changed much in 3 years and that there was no cord involvement. Guess theyre focusing on the more pressing issue (no pun intended lol).
    Thanks for the concern :)
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I also am a neckie. I can tell you my experience from my first surgery which was c4-c5 fusion. Upon waking from surgery the pain my arm was gone!..Of course post op pain but your surgeon should make sure you are comfortable,It was like instant relief! Good luck with your surgery and allow time for your body to heal. My surgeon recommended a daily walk once I was home and it really helped me feel better. It kept the muscles in my neck from locking up. Ill be glad to answer any questions you may have.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of resources throughout the site and the members of the forum can be a godsend after surgery, great people to talk to and use up some time. The members are all very friendly, supportive and knowledgeable.

    I had a 3-lvl ACDF in 2008 and like Susan, woke up with all my arm symptoms gone. I too had severe cord compression at three levels and was amazed that all the symptoms were gone so quickly.

    As for recovery, walking is very important, increasing length as you go. Perhaps you have a community center you can go to and walk there. Another thing I did to keep myself busy in addition to reading, tv and such, was to play games on my Nintendo DS, which my hubby bought me for recovery. It kept my mind going and was fun at the same time.

    You can also do simple things like if someone could put the laundry out of the dryer onto the table, you could fold them while sitting or standing if you don't have to bend over. I was able to do some cooking with some help. You will be able to squat to get LIGHT things out of the fridge or a cupboard but will need help with the heavier things.

    I know you'll find ways to keep yourself busy, so try not to worry. You'll find what works for you, just make sure to take care of yourself. Luckily, cervical recovery isn't as long or difficult as lumbar recovery (most of the time), so you should find yourself doing more and more before you know it. Just watch out for feeling good and doing too much. We've all had those days and it'll set you back another day or two.

    Feel free to PM me if I can help you in any way. Take care and I wish you a very successful surgery and recovery.

  • Hi Joyful,
    welcome to this site! I have found it to be so very helpful :) I wish I had found it sooner. I agree with Brenda, don't postpone the surgery until a "better" time. There really is no better time, there is always something that will get in the way. I am glad to hear you are ready to take care of yourself and get to healing.
    I had a cervical fusion in January. This was my second. I had a hard collar on for 14 weeks. Reading was a bit tough for me. Holding the book up was very tiring but my hubby bought me agreat gift, a nook, the electronic reader, it worked great!
    I also spent time watching tv and movies.
    Right now I am also recovering from lumbar surgery. Each comes with it's own challenges.
    I wish you a wonderful outcome! please be patient with yourself and take the time needed to heal
  • I want to "ditto" what others have said. Keep yourself reigned in so you don't hurt your recovery. Reading is no problem a few days after surgery. Since it's too hot to walk outside, try to get up and around your house as much as you can. Once you're up to it and are ok'd to get in a car, walk around a grocery store (holding on to the cart) or around a mall.

    Feel free to ask any questions and welcome to the site!
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • First thing... This collar is driving me nuts. Aspen, taken off only for shower. I still have random pains especially in my shoulders and traps Back of neck only hurts when I'm up for awhile without resting my head. I just kinda piddle around the house since it's too hot and humid outside (100+) It worries me when the back of my neck hurts, I'm being so careful with not moving neck or lifting. I do forget and bend sometimes but I mostly bend with my knees instead of leaning over. I'm sleeping in the recliner on the couch...bed is impossible.
    Some concerns...I am having terrible heartburn. is that usual? I have one spot in my throat where pills seem to get stuck, but no more pain. also it seems like I am having apnea attacks when I sleep, sometimes I wake up gasping for a breath.The lack of sleep and cabin fever is getting to me, but I have an outing Friday to see my daughters play.
    Thank God there was no damage to my spinal cord or nerves. ns said the disc was ugly.
    thanks for listening to my rant, I just feel like I want to talk to some people who have been where I am and understand. Is the pain in the back of my neck normal after sitting at the computer or reading? What about the heartburn?
    I'm getting tired of watching tv lol! Thanks for listening!
  • Thanks for posting your update.

    The pain in the back of your neck is normal, as are the spasms in the upper back, according to my surgeon, because I also had them. And they last for a while, so try not to worry.

    I also had heartburn and snored when sleeping, things that I had never had before surgery either, so seems like our ACDF recovery is about the same.

    Strange things can happen during recovery and luckily, most of it is not harmful and is normal. But if you have any concerns, be sure to call your surgeon to make you feel better.

    I just wanted to let you know that I also experienced the things you mention, so you're not alone. They do go away after a while and you're very early in recovery.

    Take care and please continue to keep us posted.
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