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C3,4,5 Fusion

I am scheduled for spinal fusion surgery with graft from cadaver on Feb 4th and have been told I will be released from hospital the next day. My problem is the person that was going to come take care of my dogs from 8 to 5 while my husband works, i.e. pottying them outside every few hours, has cancelled on me. I am wondering if I would be able to do this myself after this sort of surgery. I would have to walk down about six steps with a dog and walk them around the yard and bring them back in. Does anyone who has had this kind of surgery know if I might be able to do this, my only other recourse would be to reschedule the surgery to the latter part of May. Thanks for any opinions or help!


  • Sorry that you need to have this surgery, but hopefully it will help you.

    It is very difficult to predict how you will be after this surgery. Everyone is different and people can have very different experiences.

    I am recovering from an ACDF of C3/4/5 11 weeks ago. I am doing well, but I did have my husband stay home with me for the first two weeks.

    Things that concern me about your situation are walking down six steps with a dog. If the dog pulled you or you tripped and stumbled on the dog, you could seriously hurt yourself. You are not going to easily be able to look down to watch where the dog is and how your footing on the steps is. Also, if the dogs pull on the lead, that could hurt your neck. Any jolt to your arm could hurt you.

    I think if it was me, and I couldn't find someone to come and help me (or send the dogs somewhere) I would be inclined to postpone the surgery until such time as I had someone to support me.

    Please do let us know what you decide to do and ask any other questions you may have about your surgery.
  • Hi there, Becca:

    I am now 12 weeks post-op from an ACDF C3/4 C4/5 fusion. I have plates and screws and my surgeon also used cadaver bone mixed with my bone (what he removed). I was and am also wearing a Miami J Collar.

    I am with Jellyhall on this one, your neck will be fragile and one wrong move - and you could end up in worse shape than before the surgery, especially if your doctor is not prescribing that you wear a stiff collar.

    One thing you did not mention is where you are located - in other words - is it snowing? Is there ice? Is it raining and slippery? If so, I would definitely avoid outside stairs only one day after surgery.

    I was told I would go home from the hospital on the 2nd day. I stayed three days only because my normally healthy blood pressure of 127/72 (or something like that), unexpectedly skyrocketed to 211/117 (or something close to that). They kept me one more day and my blood pressure was back to normal. My point being, as much as we can prepare, you can't always prepare.

    I will say that even though I was not on any pain meds after the first day of surgery, I was definitely wobbly that second day walking around the hospital. Even getting up from the hospital bed made me a bit dizzy.

    While I was very functional when I got home on that third day (and I had no one here to assist, although neighbors were around 'in case'), I don't have any stairs and was really good about just taking time to heal.

    I was in absolutely no pain. That is very unusual from all I have seen on these boards and what my surgeon prepared me for, so I was VERY lucky on that front. If you're in pain, it is going to motivate you even less to stay on your dog's schedule because you might need to sleep. And, if you are on pain meds, I definitely wouldn't trust navigate stairs yourself, especially if the weather is bad.

    Since you cannot fully know whether you will actually even be out the next day, it would be my suggestion to hire someone to take care of your dogs while your husband is at work, if you are in the position to do that. You need to move at YOUR pace, not your dog's pace, especially that first week or so.

    Again, I was doing great on day 3 and did everything myself, however, while I am not an alarmist at all, I would 'prepare for the worst and hope for the best.'

    Only you can decide if you are able to wait until May to reschedule. There are options (hiring a dog walker for a few days until you can get your bearings with your new situation) - and that might benefit you, too - to have someone come by and while their focus is the dogs, it's someone who can be there even for a bit to see if you are OK or are in need of something.

    Sorry this is so long, but hopeful it helps!

    Good luck to you.
    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
  • On a side note, when I was a young girl, I wanted to change my name to Rebecca. And ALL my dolls were named Rebecca. :-)

    I had ACDF C4-5 & C5-6 on 12/3/12.. I stayed overnight & went home the next day. I was prepared to recover at my parents' house, as I'm a single parent with 2 kids (ages 11 & 17), but I felt okay going home to recover. My youngest gets stayed with her dad for a week or so. My oldest is old enough to fend for himself & help me as needed when he was not in school.

    That being said...you should not be walking in your immediate pre-op period. I'm just imagining that first day home: you are still unsteady on your feet, you are medicated with narcotics, you are in pain, having trouble keeping food down, weak. Sweetie, you can't take on the responsibility & unpredictable nature of even the most well-behaved dogs. And what about weather? Snow? Rain? Wind? You cannot contend with that by yourself.

    Brainstorm other options. Think out of the box. After all, you are desperate now. What about a neighbor, even if you don't know them well? Contact your local church - they could probably send a volunteer your way for a week or so. What about hubby making some kind of a dog run attached to a long leash? Let 'em (the dogs, not the hubby) poop in the backyard for a while. Or contact a local kennel or dog walker, see if they can come by to lend a hand at a nominal cost.

    Let us know what you decide.
    - Pangea
    ACDF C4-5, C5-6 on 12/3/12
    Bone growth stimulator 4 hrs/day
    Follow up 1/21/12 - growing bone, still in pain though. Working desk job but still not cleared for volunteer EMS :-(
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