My name is Heather, and although I've been visiting this forum for quite some time, and finally joined a few weeks ago, I haven't posted before now.
My husband and I were t-boned in a car accident back in 2002. He was fine... I was not. I didn't even realize I was in MAJOR trouble until I lost control of my hands two weeks post-accident. (Sure I had headaches, and neck pain, and other pains, but I was in a car accident, shouldn't that be expected?) My first cervical fusion was an anterior fusion with cadaver bone, at C5-C6. I had cadaver bone inserted to take the place of shattered vertebrae, wore a neck brace 24/7 for almost three months, and then started physical therapy. The pain was horrible. I would leave pt crying more than when I had arrived. My neurosurgeon was incredible. He was no longer on my insurance plan, but he offered to do the next surgery free (I should have run screaming), as he said C6-C7 had now collapsed, which meant a second fusion, more cadaver bone, more time in the neck brace, and more time off of work. This was in 2003.
Six months later... the same problems. The only difference, my surgeon had fled the country for Turkey (true story).
I was very lucky, found a new surgeon who verified that neither of my first two fusions had ever healed, that I was a walking miracle and I had my third fusion two weeks later. This one was with a titanium cage, a steel plate and screws. This surgery was in 2004. I had six good years.
In 2010, I started having severe arm pain, then horrible headaches, and then one day I lost my ability to look down. I had already tried accupuncture, physical therapy, and now I was back at my neurosurgeon's office, trying different drugs to control my symptoms and pain, to no avail.
On August 29, 2011, I had my fourth fusion. My neurosurgeon told me that the constant rubbing of the vertebrae above my cage had finally worn it down, it was splintering, and this was why I was having such severe pain. I had also lost all curvature in my neck.
Unfortunately. this surgery did not go well. I went back to work after one month off, worked for one month, and then went down in flames.
The arm pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain, hand weakness and (the worst) the headaches have been nearly unbearable. I thought I had been in pain before... that was nothing.
We've again trying physical therapy, accupuncture, and loads of medications. I've lost almost all of my right hand strength, plus a great deal of range of motion already.
I have a new neurosurgeon now, who was able to verify that my fourth surgery has failed, plus there are issues with my cage from my third surgery.
I'm having a fifth fusion on 2/9/12. I've been reading everything I can find on this forum (and everywhere else), about the procedure I'm about to undergo. Worst case-we are looking at a posterior approach, from C3-T2. Everyone-the neurosurgeon, the physician's assistant, the nurse, even my insurance company has told me that this surgery will be the most painful procedure I ever undergo in my life. I'm willing to do this, as I am praying that the pain levels will be greatly reduced following my recovery, plus I need to stop further damage from occurring.
In a nutshell-that's my story. At least the shorter version of it