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Have ACDF in a few days time

BoneyMBBoneyM Posts: 7
edited 10/29/2012 - 8:45 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello everybody, I'm Mike I'm 43 and from London in the UK. Have been having issues for a couple of years with a buldging neck disk at C6 / C7 after throwing a punch in boxing and a short while later going over the handlebars of my bicycle making the problem worse when I realised I couldn't lift my left arm without extreme pain for a week. Additionally I have a herniation in my lower back - but that's something for later in life.

I realised I had a neck buldge when I had an MRI in late 2010. About 3 months ago I had another MRI (2012) thinking my neck was now alright (though a little crunchy and some numbness etc) and was more concerned over my lower back which I occasionally pinched in boxing when ducking and leaving me laid up in bed, sometimes for days. I was put into 7 weeks of physio on specialist at a place in London Bridge. It worked if only to make me a bit more core stronger but ultimately the neck isn't all that.
Periodically I have 'pinched' my neck by some light activity such as diving into a pool and the next day I can be rendered to pain and have difficulty turning my head to the left, mainly, and to the right. I still get to work with regards to the neck but people can see I am having neck issues.

Anyhow, boxing isn't likely a good idea.

So, I have taken the option of surgery. Though I am not in pain, apart from aches and occasional numbness, and if I fall asleep with my head falling forward both my arms go numb, I feel the situation won't go away and will come back to haunt me. I'm pretty rugged in terms of dashing about and still quite active. I really don't want to go through with it but my gut tells me that this neck disk can easily slip out more and I could be in trouble. Between MRI's my lower back and my neck disks have both got worse, not better. Have been told between scan my spinal cord has altered shape.

Am having this Friday an ACDF using a (peek ?) cage but without the plate and screws. Am due to be in for 2-3 days. Synthetic bone material is Atrax (?) Apparently I won't need a collar at all and I need to rest for a week from work.

I hope to god my faith in the surgeon is accurate ! - I don't do hospitals, pain or the anxiety well at all.

I guess I am typing this just to reach out ! I haven't informed my family as theres not many of them around and don't wish them to worry, especially my Dad who has terminal cancer and a sister who lives abroad. Not sure how I will cope afterwards, not sure how I will get myself discharged from the hospital either but will cross that bridge when I come ot it.

What would be appreciated is if someone can just re-inforce my decision to have this op in that it's probably the right thing to do. Consultants leave the decision to the patient - but coupled with cowardice, the downtime of missing owrk and not being able bodied this decision has been a relitively tough one to make. . I think it's the right thing to do (???????) but I'm no expert - just someone who dosen't want this disk to get worse in the future and considering the disks have within only a year the likelyhood could be possible.

I will try to upload a pic of my recent MRI or will put it on my profile pic avatar. Two physios that saw it said it was probably the worst they had seen in 18 / 13 years of physio where I am not experiencing major issues as expected. My consultant surgeon was most impressed as well.

Your thoughts please guys? I'm under the knife 2nd November. It's the anxiety I am more afraid of, the build up and waiting around - oh and of course the pain lol

Thanks all.


  • I am in the UK too, and have a 2 level ACDF on Monday 5th November.
    There is a thread for November Surgeries, so why not come and join us. We will all be recovering at the same time and having some support from others who understand the frustrations can be very helpful

    My surgeon is going to use 2 titanium cages without plate or screws and no collar. However, I have been told that I will need 3 months off work. I am a teaching assistant which requires lots of bending, so that may be why. I had thought that my surgeon was being very minimalistic, but have since talked to someone else who had the same surgery and had success and have read about trials that say it does work!

    Have you had any other opinions?
    If your surgery is on Friday, perhaps there isn't time.

    I had a lumbar fusion 2 and 1/2 years ago, and this time I am not having anything like the pain that my lumbar spine caused. I know the feeling of wondering if you really need this operation when you are not in awful pain. I do have my spinal cord being compressed at two levels though, and have been told that the surgery is to stop the progression of damage to my cord. I do have some signs of myelopathy, which means that the function of the cord is being affected.
    I do have aches and stabbing and tingling all over both my arms and legs, with some numbness in my fingers and toes. I also get frequent headaches. Unlike your neck, the whole of my neck looks a mess because I have lots of degeneration with compression of the nerve roots on both side from C4 to C7. I have been told that I may need another surgery from the back afterwards but that we will see how much relief I get from this two level fusion from the front.

    I think that, in the UK especially, if a consultant has said they will do the operation, then you do need it. Will you have it done on the NHS?

    Have you read the useful items to have for after surgery? It is at the top of the Back and Neck Surgery thread. If you can find it, let me know and I'll post the link. Also there are things that you can do to prepare your home for your return home again. This is especially important if you will be on your own. Things like putting anything you use frequently at a level where you can reach it without stretching or bending. Have plenty of soft food that you can swallow easily. Get some bendy straws in. Make sure that your floors are clear because you won't be able to look down to check what you are walking on and you may trip. You will definately need a grabber to pick up things that you drop. Have lots of pillows to help you get comfortable.

    I wish you luck and will look out for any other questions that you may have.

  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 10/29/2012 - 10:59 PM
    We all have a lot incommom. I had some very light cervical issues but my liumbar was killing me. The first NS I went to said I needed the Lu,bar L4,5 and S1 fushed right now. I wanted a second option and found a OS spine specialist at a university to see me. With the same info he found that I might have a cervical problem that was worse. My first thoughts were he wanted to do a cervical for training. He put me in PT and ordered a full spine mri. When those results came in he called and stopped PT and also said to stop coaching AYSO soccer with the kids as one hit in the heasd would be catastrofic. Their word for a quad. He also said I needed the lumbar surgery to for fusion of L5,6 and S1 to be done later. You can see by my neck MRI pic how bad it was. One week before surgery my arms started getting very heavy and hard to use which is a sign you may lose the use of them.

    Another odd timing thing was my Dad was just told he had cancer also. I was taking care of a friend that had CPD and lost her just before surgery. The world was falling apart. I was going to a University hospital for the surgery and has a teaching process I would see a intern each time before seem the doctor. The interns always felt they had the wrong file because I could walk and move my arms.

    OK surgery was finally done as soon as doctor could get to me and it was a very easy surgery with bone donor for the graph, six screws and a plate to hold it in place. Surgery went well but moving the cord caused all kinds of he issues requiring laminectomys for the same areas to make more room for the cord.
    Ask your doctors to show you on your Mris where the cord has room and where it doesn't, this is very easy to learn
    And is based on weather the cord has spinal fluid around it or not.

    Next question that comes up is does the cord now have room and then more important does the cord itself have any damage to it. At that location a damaged cord can cause all kinds of problems. I wish you both the best of luck that there is no damage to the cord as it doesn't repair itself where some nerve damage will repair itself.

    The recover with a approach from the front is very easy as long as nothing is damaged from the surgery.
    I wish you both the best and I hope this takes care of it so you do not have to go back and have laminectomys to make more room for the cord.

    Any question please ask I will answer anything from my experience that I can.
    Please be very careful up to surgery as a hit or fall can be terrible with catasrofic results.
    Football players have been paralyzed with less compression then mine and the other profile pic
    Again be careful do not do anything stupid before surgery. One last thought for the night as my fingers are not dog what I tell them too tonight. After my surgeries I have found that its best to stay on a time sheet with the meds.
    Believe it or not I found it was better to use my IPOD touch and set alarms for y meds even if it meant waking up at 3am to take a pain pill. It was easier to stay ahead of the pain then try to catch up even if I was asleep

    Good luck and ask if you need anything
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 10/30/2012 - 7:03 AM
    My surgeon has also told me not to take part in any sports and as a teaching assistant, I cannot be involved in restraining difficult pupils. I did have a chair thrown towards me a couple of years ago!

    On Sunday while driving home at night in rain on a motorway (freeway), suddenly something hit the car and bounced off. It was about the size of an apple. We didn't know what it was. The next morning my husband saw that the bonnet of the car has been dented and scraped in a couple of places. He says we are lucky that it didn't shatter the windscreen.
    I have been told that if I was in an accident I could be paralysed or at best left with very weak arms and legs.

    I had my pre-surgery testing today and my blood pressure was high. I think it is because I was stressed but they took it 4 times and have said that I need to have it taken several times a dayfor a few days and record it. If it isn't lower when at home, I must go and see my GP and will have to have tablets to bring it down before I can have surgery.
    I am hoping that I won't need to reschedule!
  • BoneyMBBoneyM Posts: 7
    edited 10/31/2012 - 2:46 AM
    Guys, thanks so much for your informed repsonses. I took advice and got a 'grabber' today and also a V shaped pillow.

    Could you point me in the direction of the November ops forum part ? I don't know if I can hearily contribute at the moment as I'm so damn nervous :(

    In my heart I'm having this done as preventative measures. I feel pretty sure if I got a big impact I'd be in trouble. Genetically I don't think my disk is going to absord on its own and neither does the consultant.

    It's not going to be via the NHS. EDITED Not saying you can't get excellent care on the NHS but I don't look forward to having to rely on it as a pensioner. I've had friends who also had upsetting times in other places too. Anyhow, rant over :D

    I have Bupa luckily through my work, which is the only bonus I get from work, or one that keeps me working anyhow, ! mind you in this day and age I'm lucky to have a job. Kind of gutted that to save money I cycle to work everyday and that was a big contribution to making my neck so much worse with a over-the-handlebar crash. Maybe the overall treament via Bupa won't be any different than the NHS, I really don't know but I pray I get a little compassion, caring and genuine tradtitional Florence Nightingale nursing. I

    You did scare me a little Rickilalas lol after reading Jellyhalls encouraging reply but I do still appreciate the truth with regards to possible cord damage when the repair has been done. I don't think I have much if any spinal fluid where I would like to have it.

    Well, waffeling now, D-Day in 2 days and I'm trying to man up. Keep telling myself to man up but they seem hollow words.

    Thanks fellas.

    p.s. I've noticed around on various forms that women seem to suffer from alot of neck problems more than men.

    Post was edited to remove offensive statements. When a member registers and starts to use Spine-Health, they must read and adhere to the Forum Rules. The following is just a sentence from the rules:

  • " pre-surgery testing " what does that entail please Jelly ? I haven't been asked for that yet only to turn up at the hospital at 12:30 this friday for my op around 3:30... will I have to have pre-surgery testing ? god I hope they don't take blood I'll pass out

    terrified !
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 10/31/2012 - 7:27 AM
    That surprises me. Perhaps you should phone the hospital and ask about it. I think it is the norm for any general anaesthetic to have a pre-op assessment. It usually involves blood tests (sorry!), blood pressure, ECG, weighing you and measuring your height for the anaesthetist to know how much he will need to put you under, urine test, MRSA tests.

    BoneyM, I was also terrified before my lumbar fusion and was needle phobic. I wouldn't even go and see a surgeon for over 2 years because there was no way I would ever have spinal surgery. I would have to lie down for a blood test in case I passed out so I could I possibly face that. Well, I did manage and am now less needle phobic. I say to myself 'I have had spinal surgery, I can do anything'.

    Perhaps they will do your surgery testing on the day, but I wonder if they can get the results back in time. I would definately phone and ask them.

    I put my trust in God to see me through this. Along with doing that I find peace about it which really helps to keep me calm. If you are like my husband and not a believer, then what he says is that for his op in the summer, he chose the best surgeon he could find, he would be asleep and not have to do anything. So he put is trust in the surgeon to do what he is good at.

    Do ask if you have any questions. Some people like to know all about the proceedure (that's me) and others don't want to know what will happen. Either way, this site is a great place to get support from others who have experienced the pain and frustrations of spinal problems.

    I hope that all goes well for you and will talk more on the recovery side of surgery.

    Here is the link to the November Surgeries thread:


  • I may be to late for you to see this before surgery but I wanted to give you a heads up that after surgery you may have new issues that might scare you but do not let them. During surgery they move nerves to protect them and over them. Nerves do not like to be touched and react differant. Being touched, moved makes them do strange things.
    They do settle down so do not worry or get upset. My worst example was the first two days when they had me move my legs. I was flat on my back with a colar on and they asked me to raise my feet about 6 inches I did 'well I thought I did because I could not see them. I didn't know they didn't move until the nurse called the doctor and told him I had no movement and no reflexes. The doctor came in and explained it. He explained with the swelling and trauma to the nerves it would be a few days before things settled down.
    In no way do I mean to worry you or scare you but just be ready in case a tempary issue comes up.

    My last suggestion when you get home stay on top of the pain meds and don't let the pain get ahead.
    I used a IPod Touch and set alarms for all my meds even if I had to wake up at 3am to take something.

    I will watch this thread for any question you have after surgery and if you feel the need to send a PM that is fine too

    Good Luck
  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 11/01/2012 - 11:47 PM
    A couple of quick thoughts on car travel
    They warned me to keep my head pressed into the headrest in the car to help prevent whiplash and to sit where a air bag would not hit me if it went off. And like I had a choice they said avoid all accidents LOL

    Just be careful and good luck

  • I realise that I also may be too late for you to read this before your surgery.
    I'm thinking of you and hoping that your surgery will go to the surgeon's plan and that you will wake up with good pain relief, and that everything will work!

    Rick, that comment about your legs not working at first, although alarming, is helpful. I have my surgery on Monday and would have been really worried if that happened to me.

  • I have just read your comment.
    Thanks for the advice on the journey home. I have already told my husband that he will need to bring a variety of pillows when he comes to collect me, so I can find the best option.

    The hospital where I am to have my surgery is not the closest, but they do far more ACDFs there and I felt that the nursing staff would be experienced in nursing patients after this surgery. In the summer, my hsuband had an operation and there were a couple of traumatic days when the nurses and doctors were unable to deal with a situation, so an emergency call had to be put out to the surgeon. There was a wait of a couple of hours for him to arrive. He dealt with it very quickly and seemed rather frustrated that they needed to call him. This did cause me to consider carefully where to have my surgery!

    Interesting that I may need to sit in the back of the car on the way home.
  • Thanks everyone a.bit tuckered.out.on the.meds. it all seemed to go well. Am able to turn no probs which ithough.i.wouldnt be.able.too - painless.too- must be the drugs????
    This acdf seems to be a very common issue. Imonschools should be.educating kids.how.important.looking after.yourself.is
    .good.luck.with.monday dude

    Will.keep.updated.when.in.better shape. Have a sore.throat.mad.how.it.gets
  • It is so encouraging for me to hear that you are posting again already.
    It sounds like you are doing very well.
    Keep it up!

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