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4 Level ACDF Surgery Dec 1, 2011

Mom TMMom T Posts: 63
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi all, I am scheduled for my fist ACDF surgery on Dec 1 2011. This will involve 4 levels beginning from C3-C4 to C6-C7. Little scared but I know that the Lord will see me thru this. Feeling very positive about the outcome, and I have a great DR. Any advice or little tips that anyone would like to share?? That might help me get thru some things... Thanks all


  • You picked a funny way to celebrate the holidays - recovering from surgery! I had a 4 level in May and I'm here and kicking. Your spine sounds a lot like mine.

    Just a few quick tips:

    - grippers are helpful for the first few weeks
    - a recliner has been very important for my comfort especially the first couple of months after surgery
    - get as much done before surgery as you can without wearing yourself out (haircut, dentist, holiday prep., getting house prepped)
    - water is the toughest thing to swallow. Carbonated beverages are easier. Also - whether it's drink or food, think smooth, creamy and thick.
    - understand from your doctor what to expect going into or coming out of surgery. If you have a lot of other back pain, hip pain, etc. (as I do), I told the anesthesiologist I did not want to be put out until after I was in the operating room. I told them I wanted a support under my legs to elevate them somewhat. This helped to decrease the chance of other pain on top of surgery. I knew I would be admitted into the ICU, so I and my family were prepared.

    I hope this helps. Look around the site. There's a lot of information on surgery prep and recovery. Feel free to PM me if you like.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Thank you Karen for the great tips, I have had several other surgeries,(galbladde, hysterectomy, 2 shoulder, bladder tuck..and some other small ones) but this one is a pretty big one. I wish I could wait til after the holidays, but this pain under the shoulder blade, hands and such..who knew how many nerves you have and how bad they hurt! Did you feel like your back was on fire or that it something is just eating at you, or digging at a open wound?? That is what mine feels like. And thanks you so much for the reminder of a pillow or something under my knees so my lower won't be aggrivated. Again Thanks for the tips!!
  • Hi Mom T!

    For me, one of the hardest things was getting out of bed. Practice log rolling, or have something to grip like Karen mentioned.

    The other frustrating post surgical thing for me was drinks. I had DH make me a small container of iced tea in the morning, so I'd not have to lift a gallon. Same for milk, if you like it in coffee or on cereal. Much easier to only have to lift what you'll need, if no one is around.
  • Thanks Farmgirl, As far as the bed goes..I do have a hospital bed at my access and plan on setting it up here soon. I also will have a walker available. I bought some creamy soups, chicken and mushroom to eat. Good thing I like both. Also some mac and cheese.. trying to keep things soft. Thank you Ladies for helping me out. Getting my christmas stuff up this week... keeping it simple. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. God Bless
  • Thanks Farmgirl, As far as the bed goes..I do have a hospital bed at my access and plan on setting it up here soon. I also will have a walker available. I bought some creamy soups, chicken and mushroom to eat. Good thing I like both. Also some mac and cheese.. trying to keep things soft. Thank you Ladies for helping me out. Getting my christmas stuff up this week... keeping it simple. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. God Bless
  • My neck had been painful for a long time, so I knew that pain. The radiating waves - electrical pulses- down the arm really bothered me. I have had more of the feeling of heat in my legs.

    With the Dec 1 surgery date you at least have a few weeks to begin the recover. Just don't plan on doing anything for preparations for the holidays.

    Take care,

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Yes, Happy Holidays to You too!

    A hospital bed sounds perfect. Let Christmas this year be one that everyone takes care of Mom T for once..;)

    If you have pets, they may be another issue to think about.
  • I don't plan on doing to much..we have chrismas eve here at our house. So I guess if they want to eat, they will be helping! LOL
  • We are meant to be soul sisters. I am having 3 level ACDF the same day! I have been fretting over this ever since I madenthe decision to go ahead. I've had 18 other surgeries mostly joint related but this one is different somehow. I have similar problems plus a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Ive had problems for 20 years with my spine so I guess it's about time. I too will be going into ICU. I guess my doc is cautious. are you going to have a bone growth stimulator? How long are you supposed to be in the hospital.

    Like you I'm planning ahead. Have to clean the house, trim the bushes grout my new tile backsplash. Lol you'd think I could actually do all of those things? Moderation, right? I'm starting to prepare meals now. Not for me but my husband. Besides soups what are you planning for yourself?
  • Your post was most helpful. I'm having 3 level on December 1st also. How long were you in the hospital in total? I will be in ICU first night. Did you have complications? How do you feel now? Have you had any relief?
  • About the single most thing I can stress to anyone is to begin a walking program as soon as you can post surgery. You can look on the net for some, my favorite was 10,000 steps. More than likely you will be overly tired for sometime after your surgery as your body tries to recover, so make the most of your time, up and get some walking in. The walking doesn't include your day to day activities but above and beyond that.

    Another thing to consider is if you have a hard brace to be sure they give you extra pads, as they can get quit nasty. If it is a soft collar, cut a pair of long socks and pass the collar between tween it, so you can wash them and feel fresh more often,

    Aslo don't forget to take throat lozenges with you to the hospital, it is so much easier to have your own than wait on them. Most importantly have bendy straws at home. Good luck with your surgery, before you know the date will be here and it will be all over.
  • Good idea on the throat lozenges. On the walking I'm in a wheelchair due to multiple lower body joint failures so I was wondering why you recommend the walking. Is it because you get your energy back or does it feel better? I know you have less neck pain when standing vs sitting. Thanks.
  • Hi everyone.Ive been reading your posts karenD,MoM T,farmgirlnc,tamtam.You all have great attitudes and I hope I can be as upbeat as all of you.Im sceduled for c4-c7 acdf w/autograft on 12/16 at wooster community hospital,a small community with great docs.Ortho surgen says I need it but as a precaution am getting a second opinion w/nurosurgen from a larger town tomorrow.I trust ortho(30 yr doc),but was told you allways get second opinion.I can tell you I am scared as heck,but reading your posts has helped me.I was struck in the head by a reversing pickup trucks bumper in 1987,and have delt with pain with the help of chiro-but now hand and forearm getting numb,terrible headaches and shoulderblade area pain.24 yrs since accident.Feel lucky to have made it this long.I will continue reading your posts.Thanks and stay positive
  • Hi John. I'm going with an ortho too on Dec1st for the exact same surgery. I started off for a second opinion with a well known neurosurgeon in our area. For my first appt I was shoved off to a PA. Nothing against a PA but . . . Then before I could see the neuro they wanted me to have an EMG you know where they test your arm with dozens of needles? I told them I had had one at the Mayo clinic 15 months earlier and provided them with the report. But they wanted it updated before they would let me see the neuro. So I go to make the appt for the EMG and the earliest is 6 weeks out, a week after I'm supposed to have the surgery. HMMM so I called the PA back, told of my dilemma and asked if I could get the EMG at another provider. NO. So in the mean time I read every blog and every site I can and finally decided to skip the second opinion.

    Bottom line for me . . . Did I trust my ortho. He had been working with me for the past six months, has excellent credentials (did his fellowship a Yale), didn't try to rush to surgery, was very honest about what this surgery should help and what it wouldn't. Plus he's very cautious and is leaving me intibated and sedated in ICU until the next morning. Fine with me!

    I was scared to death also until yesterday when I had my last appointment before the
    event and I think once I decided to go for it feel much better.

    Good luck in your decision. I'll give you the same advice my family gave me, do what you feel is right for you and not what everyone else did. I will be thinking about you in the days ahead!
  • Walking will help with core body strength. Many patients are weak and tired post surgery, which is normal considering it is major surgery. But also it is the only exercise you can really do, that is safe. Well that is all my surgeon would allow, post op is walking. As you learn more about spine surgeries, all doctors want their patients to be up and walking as soon as possible. Often times in the cervical spine, with those of us with myelopathy, sitting around to long only makes the symptoms worse, to boot.
  • Yes I would agree with you on the walking after surgeries. This will be my 19th surgery. I was just curious about if there was a special circumstance with cervical spine surgeries. I guess since I'm now in a wheelchair to protect what is left after my 9 joint surgeries on my lower extremities over the years they'll figure out something. Thanks for the info.
  • Hi looselinks.I originaly saw family doc after chiro was no longer efective,and was sent to phy. therapy.Honestly,this was a joke and very little was done to address my neck.went back to family doc and he sent me to ortho.Have had 2 mris,emg,and in sept. 3 sets of epidurals.12 days after last shots I awoke at 3 a.m. with pain from hell-the worst ever.I think while pain free I did more damage as was never taken off work.Im an industrial maint.tech..heavy work 50% of the time..1st mri 6/09--foraminal impingement on right side c4-c5,left side at c6-c7.2end mri 5/11--mild grade 1 anterolisthesis of c4 on c5 with assc right sided facet and uncovertebral joint hypertrophy resulting in right lateral recess and neural foraminal stenosis with mild abutment of the descending right c6 nerve root.Mild left paracentral broad based disc protrusion at c6-c7 resulting in mild left lateral recess stenosis at this level.Mild grade facet and uncovertebral joint arthropathy throughout cervical spine.orthos diagnosis-mechanical neck pain,displaced cervical disc,spinal canal stenosis,cervical and radicular syndrome upper extremity.. Just a little background on me
  • I think you have more nerve involvement than I do. I cannot imagine you working on top of all of that with a physical job. We have pretty much the same stuff. I had my MRI results out earlier today for my preop with my PCP and now I can't find them but my I have 2 broad bulging and one herniated with osteophytes, stenosis, anteriolisthesis, blah blah blah. Lol. Also have problems from my underlying condition (connective tissue disease) with joint hypermobility with have straigtening of the normal lordosis ((no more curve in my neck) spondyolethis (the vertebrae are slipping over each other) and collapsing discs. With being hypermobile my head flops all over the place so I've been wearing the hard collar now for several weeks. My two biggest problems are the severe headaches and the knife like pain between my shoulders. Also have the arm pain, loads of what feel like dozens of mosquitoes biting me all at once and I can't seem to hold on to things with my right hand and then of course the ordinary neck pain.

    So John what are you going to do about work? Can you get any short term disability? Im on disability now but I'm a lot older. (62) left my career in 1993 because I could no longer travel with brief case luggage and computer thru airports everyday. But my problems involve most major joints. But life's good.
  • Thanks for chating looselinks.I just turned 50 in oct,and Im just not ready to call it quits.I have been a roofer(10 yrs)worked on the railroad(where I got hit in the head),and really the industrial maint. job was the less physical of them all.Ive done this for 15 yrs and electricity/electronics was a hobby of mine fromthe time I was 14.Transistors were just replacing vaccume tubes around then.Took industrial electronics at voc. school last 2 yrs of high school,so I guess I allways wanted to do troubleshooting/repair if electrical equipt. all along.I was blessed by god to have a natural understanding of how things work,and kept up on current tech.I still do.I love science and anything tech,even built my 1st computer.-I dont have any disability ins. thru work,wife is working 2 jobs just to keep us afloat.This bothers me more than anything,I hate putting her thru this.She is a sgt. on local sheriffs dept part time now(shes 55)and works full time with mentally/physicaly disabled(mrdd)I built our home for her 5 yrs ago as 3 kids are grown and out of nest,and we rent our old 5 bedroom house out(to big for us now)We will probably loose the house as off work since 10/4 and surgery isn't till 12/16-then 12 weeks recoupe.Not sure job will be there for me after 5 1/2 months off.Will deal with it as it goes I guess,but honestly losing the house My wife calls hers and a 9 yr job I love bothers me way more than the impending surgery or anything that could happen to me.Shes a godsend to me and doesn't deserve all this.Im ranting but thanks for writing to me.Makes me feel a bit better talking to someone besides her about all this,someone whos been thru surgeries also.Other than a gallbladder removal,Ive been blessed with good health up till now..Not sure why doc didn,t take me off work while getting epidurals,but in hindsite I think that would have been best..Thanks again and hope to hear about your good results on your 12/1 surgery.God bless you and good luck.
  • Welcome Maintenanceman, Thanks for all the info on you, will be praying for you that all will work out. Being positive and trusting in your surgeon is key in my opinion. Seeing as your wellbeing is in his hands ;) I would be lying if I was to say that I wasn't anxcious about this surgery, but I know that it is in good hands with my DR and my faith, Jesus! I have my preop testing tommorrow and will have a few questions like the ICU, my Dr. has not said that, as I can remember anyways. He did say that I would be in the hospital for 24 to 48 hrs depending on how I recover and assured me that he would not let me go home until he was comfortable letting me leave. Lots to do yet before my Surgery day (Dec 1). Prayers to all of you!!! We will see each other thru this!
  • I am new here and have been reading alot of posts. I am very scard! I have degenerative disc disease c3-4 thru c6-7. Another term I have is cervical spondylotic myelopathy. I did get a second opinion and the out come was the same. I'm being told that if left alone, I am expected to deteriorate neurologically and am at a unacceptable risk for catastrophic injury even with minor trama. C3-4 has impingement into the spinal canel and some degree of retrolisthesis so 4 level discectomy and fusion with bone grafting and plate placement is recommended by the 2nd opinion.
    So much of this is jibber jabber to me. It's all so difficult to understand!
    My fears are very real and I'm trying to keep with the positive instead of the negitive.
    I'm 51 and never imagined I'd fall apart health wise as I have in the last few years.
    Looking forward to all responces & advise.
  • Hello duckie.

    My name is Nancy. I will have the same surgery (3 level) on December 1st. Have the same diagnosis With a couple other oddities. We all seem to be in about the same situation. I too was very scared and I don't normally get scared with surgeries. This will be my 19th mostly joint problems and organ related. I have a genetic condition that affects my connective tissue. I'm curious about what you have experienced in the last few years. Is it mostly joint related?

    I feel much better about the surgery now. What helped me was reading everything I could online, this blog and watching exactly how the procedure is done on youtube. Also on youtube are testimonials of people in various stages of recovery. Just search ACDF and you will find it all.

    Also what helped was talking about it with people. I think if I tried to explain the surgery to someone else I realized how much I actually knew about what was going to happen. Remember knowledge is power and while we can't reverse what has happened we still
    can control how we respond to it.

    A third and most important factor is trust in my doctor. I googled everything I could find about this guy, checked him out professionally, read some of his published works on PubMed.org but most important I had my final visit with him before the surgery on Monday. He took the time to explain everything, answer all of my questions and spoke to how he was going to work around my underlying diagnosis which by the way is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. He also believes in caution so he is putting me in the ICU following the surgery, leaving me intibated with the breathing tube so I will be sedated for an additional 12 hours post surgery. Loved that idea! Reason is should there be any post op complications with breathing, he doesn't want to have to stick a breathing tube down my windpipe in the area where he has just operated.

    Then what also helped my fear was going to my PCP for the pre op physical. It was just nice to be able to talk it over with him also and hear that despite my physical body falling apart, I'm in excellent health.

    Also making me feel better about things is to prepare as much as I can for when I come home from the hospital. My husband can help somewhat but has early stage Alztheimers so in many respects there is much to do to prepare ahead for his care also. We don't have family nearby and we just moved here in the last year but still have wonderful neighbors willing to help. Got lots of ideas from others on how to prepare.

    So I have made a months work of meals for him and soft foods for me, have done the haircut, filled all of my medications for 90 days, put the lights up for Christmas (a good cheer me up) got all of my little projects around the house done so I won't feel bad they aren't done, prepaid or set up to pay all of my bills that come due the first couple weeks in the month, downloaded a couple of books I've wanted to read, and got my bedroom, bathroom and den set up so I everything will be convenient. Since driving is challenging for my husband we have done a dry run to the hospital and arranged for neighbors to pick me up. Left to do is clean the house, final grocery shopping and pack my bag.

    You might be thinking boy is she compulsive. Well the truth is I am compulsive but I'm also mostly wheelchair bound so doing everything ahead will make life that much easier. Because of this I also have a few implements on hand that you might want to consider. I use a reacher all the time and know it will really help anyone post surgery. They aren't too expensive and are so handy even if you are not physically challenged. Also have a dressing stick and sock assist left over from my hip replacement but don't know if they would be helpful or not. I rearranged my closets and kitchen are also arranged so that I have no reaching and no bending. All of these projects have kept me very busy to say the least, kept my mind off my fears, and have put me in control of what I can. I hope my rambling will help if only in some small way. Remember to keep in touch as often as you need to. You will certainly be in my thoughts and prayers!

  • thank you so much for all the info. I will keep my situation updated & I do have another post on the prior forum page.
    This is beginning to really help me on this forum. I look forward to all advise & expirences that every one has to share.
  • Hey Nancy..yep I have been trying to get asmuch as I can get done as well..putting things at level for me and such...My son in law and father in law brought my hospital bed over so I am getting that ready..waitin on my foam topper I ordered. Hair cut on Tuesday!! I bought my soft foods, cream soup, oatmeal, slimfast... maybe even lose a few lbs. Got me a grabber, and a soft coller...just in case. Tree and shopping is all done and wrapped! Hubby put a few decorations outside for me :). Glad he will be home with me for about a week. Still lots to do tho. also asked at my pre-op testing about the ICU and I will not be in there, just recovery room then to stay a night or maybe 2. Duckie I am 45.. B-day is Dec 23!! and like you said, I can't believe how much I have deteriatated in the last 4 yrs (when I was diagnosed) Praying that the Lower Level holds up for a while. One area at a time. I no longer am working, trying to maintain as long as I can. We are all here for each other, as we understand each other. My Surgery is Dec 1. I have had several operations, but only 2 joint... both on my left shoulder, that will prob. be replaced as it is falling apart.. like the rest of me, lol. As Nancy/looselinks has said..trusting in your DR. is Key! I am very pleased with my Neuro Surgeon. He even calls me at home. Just try and relax and just prepare the best you can. Keep in touch all.

    Mom T (Teresa)
  • I forgot, I to will have the bone fusion... but he is using bone bank instead of mine.. Said he would not put me thru that. So that will be one less thing on my mind. Also having the plates and such. This site is great and ppl are great at giving tips and such! God Bless.
  • Christmas done already??? Man you are really organized. Fortunately we usually play it low key. I have no family and my husbands family is far away so we don't do the gift thing nor celebrate much. Not about to leave sunny Florida for Minnesota at Christmastime. Cold weather locks me up. We have been working on this house since we bought last December and the last big project was to tile the backsplash. Long story as to why I did it myself but suffice it to say it was the most enjoyable project I've ever done until yesterday and today (the grouting and cleanup). I'm crazy to do this with my shoulders, neck, and lumbar problems but I knew it was now or forever put it off. it's beautiful. I told my husband I was looking forward to surgery to get a rest! Lol.

    Good you have the bed. We have a temperpedic that adjusts like a hospital bed so I may use that especially if I can't lay on my side. My bed is a sleep number which is like heaven if you have myofacial and fibromyalgia pain. So we'll see. I have a feeling I will spend much of my time in one of my recliners.

    I can't wait to loose weight! I hope we do. I'm sitting her munching on peanuts right now trying to relish the munchies while I can! I just hope we don't have to eat all blended foods. Been on one of those diets twice post surgery. Believe me blended pot roast with no salt is gross. Slim fast is a great idea. Hadn't thought of that. I love creamed soups but they usually arenhigh in fat and cholesterol. Slim fast would be nutritious and in line with our mechanical soft diet. Yum.

    Keep in touch also.

  • Yes I will have the fusion also but not with my own bone. It's a box like implant that goes between the vertebrae that has a substance that is mixed with bone plus he will use some of my own bone from the removal of the osteophytes (bone spurs) which are at each level. Then he is having me use a bone growth stimulator daily when I return home. I don't know much about it yet but will soon. I guess I wear it for 30 minutes a day. I'm guessing I need this since I currently have osteopenia but have had severe osteoporosis. I'm so amazed what modern medicine can do.
  • did u have any tracea/esophogus soft tissue damage its been three weeks post opp i had 4 level cervical i cant breathe well or swallow i choke on any food my voice very hoarse. any advice i drink shakes and soup. I am walking everything else going well
  • I would love to move to Florida... however hubby isn't so willing, that and I ava beautiful little grandsonI would miss dearly... they only live 5 miles away.I only have to buy for my 2 kids, son in law, grandson, brother in law/sister in law and Parents. Love Gift certificates!! Yes I know the soups aren't that good for you..but I guess if that is all I am eating. But I need to get some more of the slim fast! I know hat you mean about getting the rest after surgey, whew this getting ready is wearing me out! I will be alone on some days after hubby goes back to work s going t save the easy to fix food for me on those days. I would love a sleep by number.. how much do they run if you don't mind me asking? Do you do Facebook? would be much easier to chat there.. or MSN Messenger? or send me a invite on Facebook if you have it. Thanks
  • Hi everyone.Well,I got my second opionion from a neurosurgen(yale grad).He says he will only fuse c4-c5,skip a level,and fuse c5-c6.Also will use doner bone instead of my hip bone(whew).This makes me feel much better about surgery.Also no hard collar.Says back to work in 3-4 weeks instead of 12.Im not sure what this will do to the c5-c6 level in between,but I gotta trust this guy,as Im running out of time.I do heavy work alot of the time so I just hope he knows what hes talking about.O yea,will have hardware installed at these 2 locations also.Everyone keep your chin up and hope to hear your sucess stories.I will know my surgery date monday(11/28)when I call doc back.Says he can work me in so hope its soon.Take care everyone
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