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Anxiety about ACDF surgery.

Have a surgery set for July 1st 2013 and am a bit anxious. I have had surgery (discectomy) back in 2008 and had great results but I hear that this a completely different beast all together. I have numerous questions and, through the internet, get numerous answers, vague answers, most for which make this waiting experience worse. I will keep all posted, that are interested, on my experience which hopefully will help that next poor soul looking for what to look forward to and maybe prepare for.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 06/17/2013 - 2:09 AM
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

    - Detailed medical libraries of Articles and Videos that address almost every Spinal Conditions and Treatment

    - The Wellness section contains articles, tips and videos to help patients after surgery and also to help people avoid surgery.

    - Under the Resource tab, there is a section Doctor Advice Health Center which can be invaluable.

    - As a bonus, Spine-Health provides these patient forums. Here is where you can meet thousands of other people who understand and can relate to your situation. You will soon become part of the Spiney family who provide comfort and the advantages of a Support System. You are now part of this family that is approximately 20,600 International members and growing daily.

    - It is very important to understand the Forum Rules to make sure all of your posts do not violate any of the rules.

    - As a new member, it is helpful to understand the 'makeup' of these forums, how to make posts, tips on adding images and much more. You should read Forum FAQ

    Here are some you should take a look at:
    Read before you post
    Tips for Newcomers
    Understanding the rules

    All of this will help make your threads better and improve the times and quality of responses you will receive.

    If you have any questions or need assistance, you can use the Private Message facility to contact any one of the Moderators on my team:






    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi, I had my surgery on 6/6. I have use of my right side back and neurologicaly seem to be doing very well. I am not taking narcotics anymore, using tylenol and I'm walking almost 2miles a day to keep blood pumping. My surgeon was amazing, hospital stay nighmare. I guess there is truth to the saying no such thing as a free lunch. I really get your anxiety.. Cervical spine surgery is scary. I woke up and had use of my right arm again. I'm not even a full 2 weeks post op and I'm not taking narcotics. I am in a Miami J collar which I HATE wearing, but I really want to get better. I have my 2 week Xrays this coming Friday so I'll get some idea of how the fusing is going.
  • I'm scheduled for ACDF on the 25th and have an irrational fear of choking to death during surgery, wish I could have the doctor from the pain center do my anathesia. We had a good bond. Won't know who it is until get to surgery. I have sleep apnea, left bundle branch block, and asthma which could be a problem going under. Oh yes an abnormally small airway.
    I have been in survival mode ince April. Was in CICU for what ER thought was a heart attack, After 4 days of testing it was decided all symptoms were pain from neck. The anxiety seems to be driving my blood sugar up too.
  • Your concern about the surgery is understandable; C-spine surgery is scary, to which I can relate since I had a successful ACDF in 1983. As for your aconcern about choking during surgery, anesthesiologists routinely insert a tube into the trachea before surgery starts (and after you're put to sleep) for various reasons including prevention of choking, and many people with your conditions have had uneventful surgery.

    Best wishes!
  • Thanks for the information booboo I went for pre-op yesterday since I'm going on vacation for a week before the surgery. Have love hate relationship with the pain meds love the relief, hate having to take them. As far as sleep goes, I have the wedge pillow since I don't have a recliner, they say it helps while in the brace. Hope your fusion progress is going well.
  • I'm going to have a micro discectomy soon, since I have sleep apnea, asthma and abnormally small airway I'm also scare to the anesthesia. Hope your anterior cervical discectomy and fusion succeed Prince864.
    Kana I
  • bookcatbbookcat United States Posts: 66
    Hi Prince, mhug, and kana,

    I had an ACDF in Aug 2012 at C5-7. After all the anxiety, waiting, pain, and fear of losing the use of my left arm permanently, the surgery was a huge success. I was able to walk without a cane, stop caring etc. The prolonged recovery period seemed endless but so worth following all on my surgeon's recommendations.

    What helped me most during the run up to surgery was partly what you're doing now, putting your concerns out there. Spine-health is the best user-support community I have found. Other things that helped me were: being as informed as possible about my surgery; using guided meditation to prepare for a successful surgery; taking adequate pain meds and using anti-anxiety meds; giving myself down time and attempting to rest as much as possible; and reaching out to friends for support. I also worked on a post-surgery plan.

    I now face an unknown surgery for stenosis at L1-2 and possibly L5-S1. The lami that is scheduled for Tues 6/25/13 may turn into a fusion, 2 fusions, or a lami followed by fusions, or a reschedule. I just want function back in my right leg. I am using the tools above to cope. They help. My real worry is about yet another recovery (4 surgeries in 10 months). Not looking too far ahead is now my current focus.

    Best of luck and good wishes to you all,
    PLIF L1-3 6/13
    ACDF (C5-7) 8/12
    PLIF (L2-5) 2003/05/08
  • Kana IKKana I Posts: 2
    edited 06/22/2013 - 3:23 PM
    Bookcat, I'm real glad that your surgery was a huge success. I understand your worries you need to be extra patience this time. As for me this is my first surgery ever besides my breathing problem this why I worry.

    Kana I
  • Dr. said if I do not have surgery asap I will become a quadriplegic. I do not have family and my friends do not live in the same state I do. So I feel alone through this. I do not know if I will be coming home after or going to rehab. hosp. because I have know one to help me. I have anxiety but Dr. won't give me anxiety meds because of pain meds I am taking. I just thought it might help to write my feelings here. 3 more day till surgery YUK!!
  • Jules27JJules27 Posts: 64
    edited 07/20/2014 - 10:03 AM
    I can understand your nervousness about undergoing surgery, but for me, I was literally counting down the days (seriously -- I had a sheet of paper on which I crossed off the days until my surgery. That is how eager I was to have my problem resolved). I had suffered a horrendous fall 30 years ago in high school and was not sent for any medical attention at the time. I ended up with a herniated disc that festered for three decades and caused me an immeasurable amount of pain. My GP ordered a cervical MRI around 2008, but I was told it was a minor herniation and wouldn't be causing any real discomfort. I was never even offered physical therapy. My symptoms kept getting worse and I consulted with a spine specialist (his PA) about three years later. After reviewing the same MRI, he gave basically the same diagnosis. Again, no offer of physical therapy was offered, much less surgery. This past fall, I began experiencing problems with my arms and hands. As a classical guitarist, that concerned me greatly. My GP sent me to a neurologist who ordered a new MRI in January. Again, the radiologist's report said small herniation -- no big deal. I had hellacious pain up and down both sides of my neck, into my jaw and teeth, down my arms, across my chest. My hand problems continued. The following month, the neurologist reviewed the MRI and told me the herniation WAS causing my problems. In March, I consulted a new spine specialist, who immediately recommended surgery. It was scheduled for 22 days later. Over those 22 days, my symptoms only got worse. I was in agony, barely able to function. Finally, April 10th arrived. I couldn't have been happier to go to the hospital that morning. I was a little nervous, but mostly, I was eager. My surgeon removed the C5/C6 disc, put in a spacer with a plate and screws, removed two large bone spurs which were "laying right on the nerve," and made the opening bigger so the nerve could move more freely as it left the spinal column. Fast forward three months later, and I have experienced significant improvements. The pain in my neck, jaw, chest, and arms is basically gone (except when I overdo it or have a mishap, then it flares up a bit). The nerve healing produces weird sensations which I have learned to welcome, as they mean I am getting better. Gradually, my arms and hands are recovering the function they had lost. They have a long way to go, but my surgeon said it could take up to 18 months for the nerve regeneration to be complete, so at three months, I am still early in my recovery. I have a nasty scar on my neck, which causes people to stare at me in public, but I really don't care. The surgery was the best thing I could have done for myself. I am eager for all the healing to be complete, but I know I am on the right track. You need to realize the Internet is full of scare stories. As someone posted here, that's because those who have had successful recoveries are off living their lives and not sitting at their computers complaining. The vast majority of these surgeries are immensely successful, assuming you haven't waited too long to have it done. Be confident in your surgeon and in yourself. You need this surgery. You won't regret it.

  • I am glad to get surgery. I just saw neurosurgeon 1 week ago and they are rushing me in because they are afraid I will have serious injury soon, so I am glad to get it. I know that most of the comments online are negative but I also know to look for the positive comments to. I have read all the info I can on the surgery and have prepared well. I wish you all well on your recovery. And any people getting ready for surgery learn as much as you can about your problem and the surgery and even what to do after. Set your home up with the things you will need after. Thanks to all for you help.
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