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Countdown - 2 level ACDF 12/15 and questions (sleeping and cooking)!

KenAZKKenAZ Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi All
Thanks for all the great info on here.
Picked up some 'lounging clothes' and a button down flannel shirt at Target today! I *think* I am ready... emotions up and down.... of course have been in NO pain in the past week or so!!!! But then all I have to do is take a look at my MRI or read the MRI report regarding 'cord compression' and severe stenosis, and KNOW I am doing the right thing.

I picked up a CD by Dr. Martin Rossman -- Preparing for Surgery, and have been listening to it, need to up that to twice a day. Apparently have had much greater healing results using guided imagery before, day of and after surgeries. I'm down with that.

So, Thursday I will have my ACDF C5-C6, C6-C7 and then be obligated to my "ASPEN collar" for a month!!! Does not seem like the most comfortable device, but whatever it takes to heal in the right position!

So -- any suggestions on sleeping with the Aspen collar? My recliner seems like it will be the best option.

Also, with all of my bloodwork back, I was quite alarmed at some of my blood levels (as a vegetarian for 2 years, not happy to have a Cholesterol reading of over 200), and am making a strong commitment back to my old way of eating (basically vegan, a la McDougall/Esselstyn, if you know who they are).

I know I will be the smoothie king for a few days -- but will I realistically at some point be able to chop veggies or even cook with that Aspen device on? Curious to know how folks did with that.

I will try to get back online when it's comfortable!!!!



  • Don't worry about the collar - most of us find it comforting. Just remember to ask them about replacement pads so you can wash one set and use the other. Those things get hot!

    You should be able to chop veggies in a week or two (should be low on meds with a knife in your hand) but keep them at a manageable height. You won't be able to look down but your eyes can move. Just take care.

    You'll find a way to do what you want and need to do, just be creative and ask for help as often as possible. Think of creative things to make things easier like a rolling table next to your recliner, a nice blanket, pillows, etc.

    Take care and unless we hear from you before, good luck on surgery and we'll see you on the other side.

  • I had the same surgery 3 years ago and did not have to use the collar, but have had experience with it for six weeks this past summer when my SCS had to be removed/replaced. Cath is right. It does get hot, especially in the summer months.
    I frankly experienced the most discomfort when standing at the kitchen counter, trying to cook. I think it is the looking down that caused it. Just don't plan on standing there for long periods. You'll adjust to the collar though. It wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought it would be, frankly. And I didn't have any sleeping issues with it, believe it or not. I slept in my bed and just had to get the pillows situation just right. After my ACDF and both spinal cord stimulator surgeries, I found my bed and multiple pillows to be the most comfortable place for me.
    Good luck to you!
  • Hopefully the next couple of days will go rapidly. I had.a 3 level ACDF on December 1st. A much easier surgery than I had anticipated. Have had bunches of joint surgeries and find this one to be far less painful than a shoulder, just slightly more complicated dur to the proximity to everything. Surgery was great. Been at home for almost a week now. Going extremely well.

    I'm sleeping in my recliner in my Den. It's quite, comfortable and very conducive to the needs for stabilizing the neck. I had worn the Aspen collar prior to surgery and find it much more comfortable post surgery I think because my neck is now shaped to somewhat normal. I find it a comfort mostly because you don't have the fatigue of supporting a head on a flimsy sore neck! Had some fun a decorated my collar with blingss. Adds to the conversation when visitors come. Lol

    I prepared all of my food ahead for a month. Froze it. Mostly creamed items but tonight I had some very tender pot roast with veggies and mashed potatoes. I'm not a vegan. By doing your own you can control the texture and spice.

    Swallowing is tricky. Be sure to think thru how you are going to swallow your medications. Have had a few get stuck so I have apple sauce or bread to wash it down. Also am having difficulty pushing air thru vocal chords so still can't speak clearly. Husband loves it.

    I wish you the best. It will soon be over.
  • Hi, just posting to this (and several other) threads so that I can more easily keep up with other responses! My C5-7 ACDF is scheduled in one week, and I'm starting to get antsy. Connecting with others who have very recently been there will help!
  • Hi...I am doing better than I thought I would be. See the doctor today. I also slept in the recliner the first two nights, with the collar on...but my surgeon did not want me wearing the collar at all except for riding in the car and for taking walks outside. He also wanted me lying in bed, so the blood could get to my neck/head. ;) I will begin wearing my Bone Growth Stimulator tomorrow...4 hours a day, for 6 months! Very stylish.

    Honestly the fear of the unknown was worse than the actual. I need to probably be doing less than I am (did 3 loads of laundry yesterday)...but for the most part am taking it fairly easy. A 15 minute walk does me in, and I do take naps during the day/evening. Down to only 1 or 2 percocet the whole day (I'm taking a 1/2 pill), but hoping to get off that completely by the end of the week. Look forward to starting PT, hopefully in 2 more weeks??

    God bless you all and best wishes for a healthy 2012~~
  • Hi. I was so fearful of surgery. God got ahold of me, and took my fear away. I had acdf 5-6 & 6-7 on 11/25/11. Horrible pain before surgery. No pain after surgery. Yes, I had a sore throat from the air hose. I'm doing great. Ask you Heavenly Father to guide the surgeon's hands through surgery, and for a painfree recovery. God loves you. I am praying for you. :)
  • Buela, Best wishes with your surgery and I can understand antsy, I'll be going thru it soon...Think positive thoughts!!
  • KenAZ, I'm hoping your recovery is going well and you're healing just fine by now..my situation is similar with not lots of pain (just enough to be worrisome and irritating) but a horrible MRI..
    Best wishes on a speedy recovery!
  • I think the most frustrating part for me is the waiting time. I actually had my ACDF c5-c7 booked for nov 30th - then doctor wanted to do 2nd mri as he said my symptoms do not now match the july MRI. While part of me is appreciative for the double checking - I honestly wish he had to go ahead. At this point I have text book cervical radiculopathy in the left arm and I'm on 3 percocet a day to get through it with the pain. I can barefly lift my arm to put on a shirt or wash my hair - and though I can use the keyboard as I rest my wrist - I still limit that activity also.

    I think I get more frustrated with the doctors then the illness. my stenosis is the same. for my c5 it is moderate and the c6-c7 it is severe. My left arm pain as I mentioned is text book symptoms and are not going to show up any different on the 2nd MRI other than "look we have a herniated disc pressing against the spinal cord" - which of course is what the result was. And once again they list the c6-c7 as severe.

    So now I have to wait until the NS gets back from vacation - he basically instructed me to go home on november 24th - get pain medication to function until they do the surgery which they haven't even scheduled as yet.

    I've been doing this since June 2011 - when I first went to the NS - there was no arm pain - just tingling, numbness - some physical limitations and discomfort - but now - I am in a lot of pain and that's the frustrating part.

    To me it seems so unnecessary and needless. I actually signed my surgery papers at end of September.

    Yet they keep waiting for you to get to critical stage before they go "oh we should get you in now" - that's what makes me angry.

    But trying to keep on the happy face and wait until the next NS meet to see what he throws at me this time.

    *big heavy sigh*

  • Welcome to spine Health.

    I know how frustrating all this waiting is.
    I am in the UK and here it is the norm to wait.
    My neurosurgeon is doing 'careful watching and waiting' of my neck.

    From the little that he said and what my physiotherapist has told me after speaking to someone, I think they are intending to wait as long as possible before doing surgery. I think that is due to the inherant risk (even if only small) and the posibility of the surgery not helping. Also I was told that in my case, as there hadn't been much deteriation in 12 months it didn't seem to be progressing rapidly. I also have degeneration throughout my neck and they are concerned that fusing the 2 levels that need it, may cause the adjacent levels to go quicker and need surgery down the line.

    I am trying to get on with my life while I wait, but it is so hard with all these symptoms that can't be ignored.

    Keep smiling :D
  • Thanks

    It does help hearing all of this.

    Sometimes you just feel like you are in your own private world of pain and though I am blessed beyond belief with love and support - at moments it seems you can't separate yourself from the feelings of helplessness.

    Lucky for me these are just moments - strong faith and as I mentioned - strong support network - does help.

    thank your for sharing.

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