Below are some things I made sure I understood before I went for 4 level ACDF. I hope it may help some of you.
Good luck with your surgery. I advise that you find out from your doctor what the normal process is for their patients. You're a nurse so some of this may be no big deal to you:
1) Find out how long the surgery is supposed to be. Then you can tell anyone who is anxiously waiting.
2) What is the procedure for before the surgery. This includes not only the prep like cleaning the area and not eating after midnight, and taking all the tests, etc. prepping for the surgery. Will your family be able to be with you up to the time you roll into surgery? Will you meet with the anesthesiologist before or on the day of surgery - let them know if you have experience with nausea from surgery - or just ask them to give you something to make sure you don't get sick.
3) Going into surgery - do you want to be awake into the OR? I specifically needed to make sure my knees were elevated to avoid severe back pain I'd experienced during previous surgeries.
4) Will you likely be admitted to ICU, MedSurg. or PACU and then go home? I can't believe some people actually go home same day, but I was 4 level. It helps those waiting to know where you'll probably be admitted. If it's ICU they won't freak out if they know ahead of time, and neither will you.
5) What tubes, etc. to anticipate when you wake up? This includes catheter, oxygen, hard collar, or in my case I was still intubated. I was told ahead of time intubation was possible because of some esophogus problems and I didn't panic.
6) What is the normal process in the hospital - progress to med.surg., when to anticipate any tubes out, when you'd get up, go to PT, be released.
7) What restrictions to expect afterwards, and how long for the restrictions likely?
Do take it easy after you're home. My Dr. wanted someone home with me 24/7 for the first 10 days. Walk as much as you're allowed or feel comfortable. Take your meds - don't let the pain get too high. Don't push it. If you're too busy one day, you can pay for it the next day...or two, and you don't want to risk undoing what was done.
The above helped me through the surgery and recovery (just anecdotal experience). Again, best of luck.
4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.