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SUCCESSFUL ACDF C3/4 C4/5 Prep & PostOp Journal - 6 month FINAL Post Op Visit (at end)

FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
edited 04/29/2013 - 4:37 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I just had my surgery on Friday, October 26th. I got home yesterday, Monday, October 29th. My surgery was using titanium plates and screws and a combination of my bone (not from my hip, but from the bone removed from my neck and grinding it down) along with cadaver bone. I am wearing a Miami J Collar and will be wearing this for a few months. I have a Bone Growth Stimulator. My surgeon considered a "cage", but when I moved my neck around, it repositioned itself properly and I didn't need one. (remember, every situation is so different. One person who needs a cage, may have very different symptoms and structure than someone who needs the plates.) Mine is all about stability of my neck and the cage was not going to offer that.

I will go through the things I learned and pass along what I am able since everyone here has been so wonderful in sharing their information. I hope it's helpful. I have never had surgery before, so at age 52, it is a learning experience for me. I am fortunately very healthy, other than the neck thing.


First, let me recommend - even if you think it is hokey and silly and a bunch of hooey - download a pre/post op guided imagery audio recording onto your smart phone - start listening to it BEFORE you go to the hospital and listen to it post op, too. I bought a head set and listened to the audio recording as much as I could after surgery. It helped with anxious post-op moments and I have continued listening to it as I fall asleep. It also helped with my nausea while the hospital figured out my meds. I think it is helping with the speed of my recovery. And, although you don't know me, listening to these is not something of the norm for me. I downloaded one from Amazon for about $9 by Martin L. Rossman, MD. He has a voice that is amazingly calming and he includes some suggestions in the audio that are helpful.


I can only say that everyone told me - from my surgeon to the nurses, that I really prepared. I am on my own (other than friends checking in on me, so preparation was critical. I have the recliner, the dishes are on the counter, I have crushed ice cubes in the freezer. Soups, button down night shirts (so I don't have to put my hands above my head), I have the dry shampoo (because I cannot wash my hair for a week - ACCK), I have the Chloroseptic Max (although I have not needed it), I have throat lozenges - although I have not needed them. I have little bottles of water. I really have everything.

If you want to keep in touch with people (not via voice for this surgery, but via text, bring your smart phone with you to the hospital. It was really helpful since I did not have anyone at the hospital. Typing was my only form of communication with people outside of the hospital. Inside the hospital, I whispered.

My shower at home. For whatever reason, years ago, I put in shower heads that have a slider bar on the wall of the shower.; WHAT A BLESSING! Since I cannot get my hair and neck wet for a week, I have been able to slide the shower head to my chest and not worry about getting my neck wet while I wear that Miami J Collar during the shower. Especially if you are going to be on your own, I would highly recommend getting one.


My symptoms were a dull pain at the left side of my neck (at the base of my neck) and tingling in my left thumb, index and pointer finger. A little unbalanced walking from time to time. But, I was not in constant pain and I was on no medications or even aspirin whatsoever in the 2.5 years I have been dealing with it.


I asked my surgeon if I could fill the prescription for pain meds/muscle relaxers I would need at home BEFORE surgery so that I did not have to deal with it on my way home from the hospital. He agreed it was a good idea. So, I got it filled the day before my surgery.


I decided to get a 1.5 hour massage. I knew it wouldn't remove all the stress from me, but I also knew it would be helpful at some level. I am so glad I did!


The surgery apparently went well. I can only whisper right now, but I was told that would be expected.
After surgery, they wanted me to try to eat something, but the morphine made me incredibly nauseous. I felt no pain in my throat whatsoever (and still do not), but I could not swallow anything of substance. Cups of ice chips were helpful. I had to really concentrate on small swallows otherwise I would choke. The choking didn't hurt and I quickly got the hang of it.

Once they got me off the morphine and switched me to the Diludad and let ME control when I needed it rather than it being automatic, I was much better. I was coherent enough to pay attention to the time to monitor the times I dosed myself, even though I knew I could not overdo it. I slept a lot, which was my personal goal. Swallowing was challenging and all I could manage was chipped ice, a little bit of chicken or beef broth, lemon sorbet, jello (bleck), mashed potatoes and cream of wheat.

The guided imagery audio I had on my phone was soooo helpful. Anytime I needed to listen to something, I turned on my smart phone and listened. It lulled me to sleep.

I was/am really concerned about my voice, as it is my business - something my surgeon knows clearly. He has been terrific through the entire surgery and pre-surgery. I go see him on Friday. I hope my voice comes back quickly.


UGH is all I have to say. It is uncomfortable, and with the warm weather here in Northern CA, I have found that the incision in the front of my neck (still in bandages) gets itchy. With my head propped against my recliner, I unvelcro one side to let air get in there. It really makes a difference. I do not move my head for those few minutes, then I velcro up again.

So, evening one at the hospital was uneventful. The nursing staff were wonderful. I cannot thank them enough. They listened to me when I was uncomfortable and did what they could to make it easier for me. I had few needs. The only drag is that every 15 minutes, they were checking my vitals. That is a pain.

10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion


  • I appreciate that you took the time to give such a detailed description. Reading it brought back memories of my ACDF. I'm sure others will find it helpful.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/13/2012 - 6:06 AM
    Day 2 was pretty much the same -- tough swallowing, but no pain at all.

    Suddenly, my blood pressure went from it's average 127/72 to over 200/117. Of course, they were concerned and kept a close eye on me as the morphone moved out of my system and the Dilaudad was in my system.

    I was still pretty nauseous. When the physical therapist came by to get me out of bed, it was clear that I was not going to be able to walk around. So, I stayed in bed. I wasn't miserable, though. I didn't puke. I credit the crushed ice, the guided imagery audio, a few rounds of Words with Friends and my own calm nature. PANICING DOES NOT HELP!

    It felt like there was a lump in my throat - on the right side - but I suspect that was because of where they moved everything over to get to my spine.

    My surgeon visited - he was great about my meds. He was pleased with my physical progress, concerned about my blood pressure, but they were looking after me.

    I slept and played with my smart phone.

    Again, crushed ice, applesauce - yes, applesauce, I forgot that earlier, cream of wheat - that was it. Someone in dietary decided to send me a piece of fish, green beans and mashed potatoes. I ate the mashed potatoes.

    Again, I cannot praise the nursing staff enough. One nurse was taking my pulse and the nursing assitant was standing there stroking my hair. I received some flowers and one nurse came in so excited to tell me that someone sent me something. She came back later and was so enthusiastic about them, it was so cute.

    I had a beautiful view from my room and no one else was in the room. So, I was lucky.

    Blood pressure was still high. I was expected to stay in the hospital a second night and I did.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 10/31/2012 - 9:10 AM
    I had started weaning myself from the meds. For whatever reason (and I am really grateful) - I had no pain, so I wanted to get off meds as soon as it made sense.

    The draining was happening like it should and they were pleased with those results. I was responding well on that front.

    My blood pressure was still high - but was coming down. I was glad, so were they, but they wanted to keep me in the hospital one more night to make sure.

    Swallowing was still a challenge. Good weight loss program! hahaha
    But, I knew I need something inside me. But, it was tough.
    I was grateful for the suctioning toothbrush. Having clean teeth made me feel less gross.

    Catheter was removed. They started giving me things to get my bowels moving.

    I was feeling better and the physical therapist came by and got me and we walked around the hospital and she gave me all the tips for when I am home - no reaching above my head; asked me if I needed a cane (I didn't), asked if I had or needed a picker upper thingie if I dropped something on the floor since I am not supposed to bend (yes, I bought one.)

    Still challenging swallowing. No pain - none at all in my throat.

    Any pain came from my trapezius muscles tightening up. I massaged them and someone from the hospital massaged them. I had a heating pad all of the time on that area. that helped a lot, too.

    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 10/31/2012 - 9:08 AM
    My blood pressure dropped significantly close to normal, so they were OK releasing me. I came home. Got in my recliner.
    My friend got me settled and I was good.
    I was up playing "Scramble" and "Words with Friends", which was a nice distraction.

    By noon, I was ready to be released.
    I came home and was eager to navigate in this new collar - ICK- i hate it. Grateful it is light-weight plastic, but I still hate it.

    I have some bandages across my throat - he made the incision in the one fold i have in my neck, and it is getting itchy. The warm weather here is contributing to the itchiness. I sit back in my recliner, unvelcro the collar and just let the air hit the bandage and that helps. I don't move my head an inch while it is unvelcroed.

    Swallowing was still challenging. I felt like it was never going to ease up. I would take the teeniest tiniest sips of water - and it was worse using a straw. I had much better control with ice chips.

    I slept for a few hours during the day and then for a few hours in the evening. Getting comfortable without meds was challenging, but I managed. Not because I was in pain, but just my new surrounds.

    I showered when I got home, with the shower head at about chest height. That felt so good.
    Since I could not wash my hair, I took a wet and very rung out wash cloth and rubbed it through my hair and dried it. It wasn't perfect, but it felt fresher than just adding dry shampoo. Baby powder works, too, if you don't have dry shampoo.

    I am grateful I am strong and healthy. I know that makes a difference.
    Oh yes, especially since we are entering flu season, I placed at my front door a container of hand sanitzers with a note and a little paper bag to leave the used ones in.

    Everyone understands. I cannot risk getting sick right now. If someone is offended, they shouldn't come in! :)

    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • Suddenly, I can swallow soooooo much more easily. I am being cautious, but it was the first day that I drank 12 oz of water orally - and I drank it from a little Dasani bottle. I was sooooo pleased at how quickly things changed.

    I had some scrambled eggs, oatmeal for lunch and chicken soup for dinner and was able to easily, albeit slowly, swallow the chicken bits. And, friends came over with frozen yogurt. :) Nice treat.

    I took a few naps and am pacing myself. I know I have a long road, but am so impressed at how the improvements are in leaps and bounds.

    Still whispering.

    I did take some Ducolax and Senekot the night before - and I am glad I did. Today was a good day. :)

    I don't know that I am contributing anything different than anyone else has, but I hope it helps someone else out there.

    My best advice - prepare, prepare, prepare. Go in strong, don't go in as a victim. It all sucks, but if you have a good surgeon, you are in good hands - the rest is completely up to you.

    More soon.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 10/30/2012 - 11:59 PM
    Thank you Francine, for this journal.
    I am having the exact same surgery on Monday, and am so encouraged by how you are doing.
    I love the fact that you are giving lots of details and information.

    I am glad to hear that you are able to swallow much better now, and it is great to hear that the swallowing isn't hurting you. I had a nasty throat infection last week and at the time thought that it was good practice for after my surgery, because my throat was so sore.

    I'll keep coming to read how you are getting on.
    Very best wishes for continued healing and take care now that you are home again. xx

  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 10/31/2012 - 9:05 AM
    I was prepared for a sore throat - my surgeon warned me of the possiblity.
    I did swallow a little too much water this morning - forgot I was not Wonder Woman - and did have a major coughing attack. Live and learn.

    I have a bowl of throat lozenges here and haven't used one of them yet.

    You're going to be fine and I look forward to hearing about your recovery.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 10/31/2012 - 9:51 AM
    I am glad to hear that you are not having pain.
    My surgeon has told me that I won't have a PCU, so I hope that my pain will be well controlled.
    He also said I won't have a catheter and no collar. I must admit that I worry a bit about when I am sleeping because I am a restless sleeper and I hope I don't put my head into an unsuitable position.

    I have bought throat lozenges to take with me and some Chloraseptic spray - so I am prepared if I do have problems.
    My voice is already rather croaky from the throat infection that I had last week.

    Were you in a High Dependency Unit after surgery? I will start my recovery in one for the first few hours. They showed it to me yesterday at my pre-op assessment and I am glad I saw it. It wasn't hi-tech and looked lovely with the sunshine streaming through the window. I will be allowed to have visitors while I am in there, which was something I was worried about. My hubby will be there at the hospital and I want him to be able to be with me.

    Keep up your amazing recovery, and don't be tempted to do too much because you are feeling so well. So many people do that. Remember you have just had a major surgery. xxx
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 10/31/2012 - 12:17 PM
    I am glad that they allowed me to control my pain, especially after the morphine making me nauseous and it being pumped into me. He knew I was a responsible patient and was going to manage myself well, so I knew he trusted me in that way (not to mention that I could not overdo it.)

    I am amazed that you are having a neck fusion and no collar, but I am not a physican either.
    As much as I hate mine, I know that I would feel the way you do. I am curious why you will have no collar? Did he explain why you won't need it? If not, ask why not. There may be a reason.

    At first, my surgeon was not going to cathetarize me, but when he visited me right before surgery, he said he was going to write the order to cathetarize me during sugery and to remove it at my request after surgery. I am GLAD I had it. Because the morphine made me so nauseous, sitting up in bed to get up to go to the restroom made me unstable, so having it there was a relief. When they switched my meds and I became more steady, I requested it be removed. So, for my situation, I think it was a good call on my surgeon's part.

    I went right from recovery to my room.

    I bet you will do just fine. I hope that it goes quickly and painlessly for you!
    Just take things slowly - swallowing, especially. :) Ice chips and apple sauce will become your best friend. :) I used the apple sauce as the way to take my pills (senokot and ducolax).

    You'll do great! :)
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 10/31/2012 - 12:25 PM

    I asked about the collar, and he said that they make the neck muscles weak and with the titanium cages that he uses, they grip into the vertebra with 'teeth' so a collar is not necessary.

    I didn't have a cathetar for my lumbar fusion either. I must admit I did wish I had one after that surgery. Lifting myself up to get a bedpan under me that first night was very painful and then I really struggled to 'go' in a lying down position.
    He said I won't have morphine because it causes nausea, constipation and something else that I can't remember. He said that the anaesthetist will give me something to help with the pain. If I need something more, I will let them know!!
    After my lumbar fusion I had a PCU with morphine. I seemed to have some sort of reaction to it and they were concerned that I had had too much (pin point pupils) and took it away just 6 hours after surgery. They said they would give it back to me later, but they never did. Actually, I didn't need it and coped well on really mild pain killers. I couldn't understand why but they told me that it was because I had been in so much pain before my op. That worries me because I am not in a great deal of pain right now! I will find out soon enough.

  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/13/2012 - 6:07 AM
    Ahhh OK - I don't have a cage, so I can understand that.

    They switched me from the morphine because of the nausea and he switched it to Dilaudad - which I was able to control. I believe all of them cause constipation.

    One interesting thing that I learned from the guided imagery audio was this -- when you come out of surgery and when you are waking up - start thinking about being hungry. It apparently sends messages to the stomach to start getting everything working again - which will allegedly help stimulate movement in the colon and bowels. I am not sure how much it worked, but it sure couldn't hurt.

    I do understand about weakening the muscles in the neck - I can see that - and that will be part of some sort of physical therapy. I will say that my neck gets tired in this thing, for sure.

    My neck needs to start to fuse so that something doesn't go wrong with it before the collar comes off, which is also why I will have the bone growth stimulator. I was supposed to start that on Monday, but there were too many things to get grounded with.

    When I go in to have the bandage removed on Friday, I am going to bring it with me and have his nurse put them on me so that I know they are in the right place. Basically, they are flat pads that go where Frankenstein had his electrode thingies. haha

    Yours will be great. And, it will be nice that your hubby will be there for you. :)
    Just pace yourself. :)
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/13/2012 - 6:07 AM
    Today I went in to have the bandage covering my throat removed.

    The bandage across my throat has been seriously itching since I was in the hospital, but I have endured because I know I hate having things around my neck. I mentioned it, but no one seemed overly concerned.

    It got so annoying that, while sitting, I would remove the front of the Miami J collar just to allow some cool air in to soothe it. It helped. I knew I only had to wait until today to have it removed.

    Well, when the nurse removed my bandage today, she said I had a rash. I asked to look at it - and it was more than a rash. The entire area - was red and inflammed. I was SOOOO relieved to know that it was not just my imagination.
    The nurse went to get my surgeon who also had a really surprised look on his face when he saw it. I even joked with him (with my still whispering voice) - that it must be bad from the look on his face.

    He wanted to give me steroids and have me not get it wet (which would mean not washing my hair), but I declined the steroids asking if I could just leave it uncovered for the weekend and leave the collar open ONLY when sitting and after the weekend, I could let him know if it calms itself. It doesn't look like i had a reaction to the adhesive - those areas of the bandage were fine - but my entire throat was red and "angry", as my surgeon said.

    I told him there was no way that I could go another 4 days without washing my hair. One week was already too much. I promised him that I would get it wet and IMMEDIATELY dry it off right when I got out of the shower. The incision was not oozing or anything like that, so the wound itself was not infected. He agreed with my approach. He knows I get it.

    He told me I could take Benedryl, if I wanted, but no aspirin.
    Since I am on no meds at all, and I am not in pain - AND because I felt immediate relief once it was removed - I am fine waiting until after the weekend, with a Benedryl waiting in the wings - in case.

    Otherwise, I am still waiting for my voice to return. Thank goodness for email and texting.

    A funny thing - my insurance company called and left me a message to call them. What morons! I called back with my whispering voice and told her that I cannot talk, so if she needs to reach me she will have to email me - because I just had surgery one week ago, which she already knew. Lordy! hahah I am pretty sure if she can even hear who it is on the voicemail I left her that she now gets it. hahah

    Swallowing - definitely no "Dry" foods - no crackers. Soft and wet foods is about it.

    I started wearing the Bone Growth Stimulator after I took a shower. We'll see how that helps in acceleration of the fusion. Time will tell. I don't even feel that it is on.

    Sleeping - I move between my sofa and my recliner. There is no truly comfortable place to sleep, but I did sleep from about 10:30pm - about 4:30am last evening. Without the surgery, I normally only sleep about 5 hours an evening, so this was amazing. I then turned on my post-surgery guided imagery audio recording and fell asleep for another 3 hours.

    I am waiting for more button down shirts to arrive from mail order. I am glad I have the ones I do!

    That's all for now. :)
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 11/03/2012 - 1:07 PM
    I am so pleased to hear that you don't have any pain. It does sound like you are doing well, except for the 'rash'. Have you tried taking antihistimine tablets for it? I had a similar problem after my lumbar fusion and when they took the dressing off, it pulled the top of some of the blisters that had developed. They put me on antihistimine tablets and after a couple of days the redness and itching went away and then we just had to wait for the blisters to heal.

    Are you managing to swallow tablets? I have read that some people manage to do that by taking them with apple sauce.

    Can you explain why you need to have button down shirts? I have pyjamas with a v-neck, but no opening down the front. Will I be able to put this over my head. I hope so! It is your collar that means you need button down shirts? I hope that you can answer soon, because I may need to try to buy some front opening tops tomorrow. I am running out of time!

    I remember how wonderful that first shower and hairwash felt!
    Keep up the good healing, and sleep well again tonight zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
  • Hi there, Jellyhall:

    My surgeon told me that I should not be raising my hands above my head. I suspect some of that may be so that people don't get things off of shelves, etc and because the times I have done it, you do want to tilt your head up and back a bit, not to mention that it probably causes some muscle strain.

    I went online and bought a few night shirts from Nordstrom and from Soft Surroundings I bought a few very loose, soft button up jersey shirts and I will say, especially because I am here by myself, it does make it a bit easier. The getting them on might be easy, but the getting them off might take a bit more effort. (If you want specifics on what I bought, email me and I will give you more specifics.)

    I also went into my closet and pulled out a few sweaters and shirts that zip up the front for when I want to get out of the house. I hope that helps!

    Re: the rash - my surgeon told me I could take a Benadryl and I did last evening to see if it helped. I don't know if it was the Benadryl or just having the bandage off, but it is calming down. It sure helped with my sleep, too! I am not into medications, so I won't make a habit of it, but I mostly want the inflammation to go down, so I will take one more tonight and see if it helps. And yes, apple sauce was what I used at the hospital to take the Senokot and Ducolax. It made something otherwise challenging much much easier. I did that with the Benadryl last night, too.

    When I sit down, I undo the front of the collar and just let fresh air get in there. I am sure it is going to scab over. It looks like someone took a sander to the entire front of my throat. It was that red and raw yesterday. I don't see any blisters, but I bet that was next!

    What I am unsure of is (and I faxed my surgeon's office to find out) is if he put anything over the incision other than a steri-strip and the gauze bandage - it feels like there is some sort of coating over the area, but it may also just be the body's natural way to protect such a raw area. We will see if they respond on Monday.

    I live in Northern CA and it was about 75 degrees today (and getting warmer) so I have been inspired to get out and take walks on my street. They are not long walks, but it feels good to get out and move my body. I even rotate my arms to loosen up my shoulder muscles.

    Friends came over to visit me today and they were amazed at how normal I moved around (other than no voice and the collar) and that I looked great for having had surgery just 1 week ago. So, that was nice.

    Please remind me of your surgery date. I know it is just around the corner!

    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • My surgery is tomorrow - 5th November!!

    I haven't got time to buy any other tops now, but I will look out some that will hopefully be ok to use in case I can't get my other tops on and off.

    It sounds like you are doing very well, and hopefully once your 'rash' has totally healed, you will have a smooth recovery journey.

    Hopefully, I'll be able to post soon to let you know how I am doing.
    Take care,
  • I wish you all the best tomorrow. Positive thoughts and I trust it will be smooth sailing. I will be looking to see if you post anything at all from the hospital while on here. :)

    You must have at least one casual button down shirt in your house. :)

    Be well.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • It's been 4 days since my initial wound check where my entire throat looked like someone took a sander to it.
    I went back today to see the nurse and much has improved. I spent a lot of time sitting with the front of the collar open during those 4 days, because I wanted as much air to get to it as possble.

    When I showed my surgeon's nurse, she told me what I suspected - that I was allergic to the GAUZE! Not the adhesive, which is more common, but the gauze, which is less common. Leave it to me.

    But, it is not starting to scab over and is feeling better. Even the material of the padding of the collar was inflamming it. So, she suggested I take an old t-shirt and cover the padding. I did that immediately when I got home and my neck/throat feels SOOOOO much better!

    Swallowing has its challenging moments, so I stick with moist foods.
    My voice is still a whisper. No way to predict when that will return. It's been 11 days.

    Today is my birthday, so I am going to walk over to my neighbor's for dinner - I asked for some soup, simply because I can manage that - and it will a low-key day/evening watching election returns. UGH!

    I am doing well, especially now that the throat irritation is getting resolved.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion

  • I am so pleased to hear that your allergic reaction is calming down.
    This time, I told them that I had had an allergic reaction to the dressing for my lumbar fusion, and all has been fine. I still have the original dressing on and feel quite comfortable in it. I have to take it off on Thursday next week. Then I will have an idea of how long my incision is. Underneath, I have steri strips which I have to peel off.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY for 6th November.
    I hope that you had a good evening and enjoyed your soup.
    I am having swallowing and choking problems, and a speech therapist phoned to discuss it with me. She believes that it is due to swelling rather than nerve damage, so should go in time.
    Today, I think I managed to eat my meal more easily, so I am hopeful that the internal swelling is going down.
    On the second day after surgery, I had awful swelling of my neck and looked awful. I was making very strange noises when I tried to drink water. I sounded like a frog croaking. I caused quite a bit of interest in the hospital as most of the nurses hadn't heard this before. One had and said it could mean that there was a problem. A young doctor asked if she could listen to it with her stethoscope while I drank the water. She talked to me a lot about it and asked what made me feel better or worse. I hope that she will be able to help another patient with the same problems. Ice cream is the best!!

    I am managing fine to get v-necked tops over my head.
    I don't have a collar and my arm movement is good, so there is no problem. Good thing I didn't rush out and buy some new tops!

    My voice is very deep and sounds like I have a throat infection. It also feels like I have a bad throat infection!
    I have been given a good tip for swallowing water to stop it going into my wind pipe, which was happening. Take a deep breath, sip and swallow the water, then breathe out. That way the opening to the lungs is closed so the water can't get in. The speec therapist had told me to stop drinking tea or coffee because they have a much higher risk of me getting a lung infection because water is much more bengin if it gets into the air ways.
    I am really looking forward to a nice cup of tea!

    Keep up the good healing,
  • My 4 level ACDF is scheduled for Jan 22. Reading your journals has really eased my mind. I think not knowing what to expect is really disconcerting. So THANK YOU, both. You both seem to be doing wonderfully and managing your pain.
    Francine, I am worried about nausea. Each time I have had anesthesia I have had nausea. I plan on really emphasizing that to everyone I speak with before my surgery.
    Francine, I see you live in Northern California. My youngest daughter is a teacher in the Oakland Unified school district. It is such a beautiful area.
    Hope you both continue forward with your healing!
    4 level ACDF completed on January 3rd.
    I developed an infection which required reopening the wound on January17th
    Looking forward to life without as much pain!
  • Hi there, Jellyhall.

    So glad to hear from you. I am so glad that things are mostly going well for you.
    Thank you for the birthday wishes. :)

    My swallowing has become easier - and I agree - that it is from internal swelling. I can now sip water -- still sipping - and mostly I don't choke. I REALLY have to concentrate on it, though. When I don't, well...I choke. But, I can tell it is easing a bit. Still no super-dry foods. Be patient with yours. It takes time, I am finding, for that swelling to ease itself.

    I happen to have a lotion from my dermatologist and I put some on the irritation/heat rash on my throat and it immediately calmed it down. I was trying to stay away from steriods - but I only had to use it once and it finally broke the cycle. Thank goodness!

    My voice is mostly still a whisper, although today, a little more came out here and there. It sounded like I was hoarse for a moment, but thankfully, no physical pain. So, still being patient. I am impressed that you have a voice at all, even though it sounds funky!

    You sound good, though! Glad your shirts are working. I've raised my hands above my head a few times. It doesn't hurt, but I know they don't want me straining those muscles quite yet. My arms are going to get flabby with 3 months of this!! haha

    I look forward to hearing more about yours!
    Thanks for the update.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • Hi there, Penny:

    I had not had surgery before, so this was a new experience for me - the nausea. The switch from morphine to Dilaudad made a big difference. If you know what you've had before, perhaps that will help them know to try something else! They told me that pain meds even in the last 10 years have improved a lot, so that is a good thing.

    I hope you are as lucky as me to not have any pain at all during and after your hospital stay.

    Nice about your daughter. I am on the other side of the bay - in Marin - over the Golden Gate Bridge. Where is it you are located?

    I look forward to hearing how your surgery goes.

    I am by no means an expert on any of this, but if there is anything I can help answer, feel free to ask.

    Are you going to be getting a bone growth stimulator? Will you be in a collar? Did they talk about what you will need to do after surgery?

    I wish you all the best.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • PennyPPenny Posts: 162
    edited 11/10/2012 - 10:20 PM
    I am in Florida, east of Tampa. A long way from my baby. I have been to Marin a couple of times and plan to go to the marine animal hospital on our next visit.
    I will be wearing a collar. The dr said 3 months. He did not mention a bone stimulator. That is on my list of questions to ask.
    4 level ACDF completed on January 3rd.
    I developed an infection which required reopening the wound on January17th
    Looking forward to life without as much pain!
  • I was very worried about having nausea with both of my spinal surgeries, not because I haave had it before, but because my body finds it a real strain and makes me feel very ill.
    Both times I have told the anaesthetist that I am worried about it, and both times I haven't had any problems at all.
    This last time, the anaesthetist said she couldn't promise that I wouldn't have any, but that she would do what she could. It was fine.

    My daughter is a teacher too.

    I have an uncle living in Berekely and a distant cousin who lives over the Golden Gate Bridge, possibly in Marin County, but I am not sure.

    It is a small world!

    I had a great lunch today, that took me an hour to eat. I did really enjoy it though. Well done hubby - I was sleeping as he made it! I just keep falling asleep!
  • If your doctor decides he wants you to have one, if your insurance only covers a small part of the cost, let me know and I can tell you how you can get it subsidized at no cost beyond what the insurance covers.

    I cannot vouch for it yet., I will know more in about a month when I have my 6 week follow-up visit. But, the technology and logic makes sense to me and to my surgeon.

    Yes, the Marine Mammal Center. I have unfortunately not been there since they remodeled. I should get there. I used to take my neighbor's daughters there all the time. Enjoy!
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • That's fantastic about your meal. Wow! Hey, you're not going anywhere - take 2 hours! haha I am envious. I am going to attempt something more substantial either tonight or tomorrow. I have a filet mignon calling my name. :) I will be grilling it, I think. Oh man, it's making me hungry. Wish me luck.

    It's nice that your hubby is there to take care of you.

    You sound like you're doing great.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 11/11/2012 - 6:53 AM
    if only.
    My surgeon specifically told me not to try to eat a steak. Mind you, you are further on than me.

    My delicious lunch was plaice with mashed potato, carrots and brocolli
    with jam sponge and lots of custard for desert.
    I managed to eat it all!!
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/11/2012 - 2:22 PM
    Oh gosh, I couldn't even begin to think about steak just a few days after my surgery. My diet has been eggs, applesauce, sorbet,. soups, more soup and even more soup - so much, that I never want to see soup again! haha I am saving the steak for tomorrow for some reason. :) I am making mashed potatoes, too - which is a treat, because I haven't had mashed potatoes in a long, long time.

    No way I could have eaten carrots and broccoli the first week or so, not without choking.

    Tonight, I had shrimp pad thai and that was terrific and went down just fine! :)

    That's great that you are doing so well! Steak soon! haha
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • ...INcluding the surgery day.

    Well, things have improved greatly on all fronts.

    1. The heat rash FINALLY went away. The inflammation accompanying that has subsided. I happened to have a steroidal lotion from something else my dermatologist gave me a sample of years ago and I rubbed some on the rash avoiding the incision and immediately, the itch was gone and within an hour, there was a noticable difference in the heat rash. That was the only time I used it. It's like it broke the cycle. I did that on Friday. What a difference.

    2. Swallowing - within the past few days, that has also gotten a lot better. When I swallow, I feel like I am swallowing with my whole throat. Before that, it felt like food and water were only going down one side of my throat. I have a sneaking suspicion that the heat rash and it being inflammed may have also been contributing to the swelling at my throat and once that was gone, everything is now healing much more easily.

    3. My voice - also within the past few days, my voice is more than just a whisper. It isn't too much more than a whisper, but I was able to call my father and speak with him and it was like an early Christmas/Chanukah for him, he was so excited to hear my voice. I knew it would make his day and week and am glad I called. I still cannot talk for very long, especially on the phone because it takes a lot of energy, but there is HOPE! I am patient and just have to be a little more patient. :) I am just glad that I really cleared my schedule with this so that I am not feeling pressure to get on with things in an artificial way.

    4. Strained neck - Gone - I am paying a lot more attention to how I rest my head in the collar. I noticed I was jutting my chin forward to rest it on the chin thingie and I know that created a lot of extra tension on my neck. I have to pay attention to it all, but it is much better.

    5. Sleep - My normal sleep (before surgery) is about 5 hours a night - and after surgery, I was lucky to get in 4 hours at one time. I am finally back sleeping in my bed, having taken one of the back cushions of my sofa and putting it as a "wedge" covered by two of my softer pillows and last night, I believe I got about 9 hours of sleep!!!!! That was amazing and unheard of for me, but I know I needed it. And, my neck muscles didn't hurt while sleeping, which is what would wake me up. That was amazing. I have no idea when the last time I slept 9 hours at one time was! haha I usually feel pretty groggy with that much sleep, but I am pretty sure I haven't slept consistently for more than a few hours at a time in 17 days!

    The weather remains beautiful - today was so sunny and although there is the autumn coolness in the air, I sat outside in the sun for a while, took several walks on my street and spoke with some neighbors for a few minutes.

    No meds. No pain. Great attitude.

    I am just very hopeful that internally, the bones are fusing.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 11/12/2012 - 4:27 AM

    Thanks for the update Francine, it is so encouraging to read that after only 17 days, you are moving forward in your improvement.

    Very good to hear that your voice and swallowing are improving as those are affecting me.
    Also wonderful to hear how much your sleep has improved. I am managing to sleep pretty well on my side without a collar, which has surprised but also pleased me. Because of my lumbar problems, I was wondering how I was going to get comfortable to sleep without a collar. I just use my shaped, memory foam, cervical pillow and that supports my head pretty well. I then have a soft roll pillow that I cuddle under my chin that stops me putting it down. I seem to sleep until pain wakes me telling it is time for the next 4 hourly tablet.

    Enjoy that lovely sunny weather. We had that yesterday, but today it is raining. I have been waiting for it to stop to go out for a short walk, but no luck so far.

    Keep up that great attitude xx
  • PennyPPenny Posts: 162
    edited 11/12/2012 - 11:51 AM
    Francine, I have very good insurance (postal retiree!). Hopefully, if necessary, they will pay. If not, I will be messaging you. You and Jellyhall are doing wonderfully. You are inspirational. I feel better each post I read. I have been very apprehensive about surgery. Ironically enough, what finally pushed me to decide was a conversation with a stranger. We were both dipping our toes in a very cold spring on a hot Florida day and she noticed I could not turn my head. She had ACDF surgery and urged me to have it done. I had others tell me positive things, but this lady told me what a big difference it had made in her life so I decided to talk to my doctor. Cortisone shots and physical therapy had not helped, surgery was the next step.
    Anelson, my doctor said they shoot for a 50% improvement in pain. Are you pain free? That would be awesome. What kind of surgery did you have?
    4 level ACDF completed on January 3rd.
    I developed an infection which required reopening the wound on January17th
    Looking forward to life without as much pain!
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