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Post-ACDF Tips or Tricks needed for certain situations

I am having ACDF surgery on August 19, one - possibly two - level (no collar). I've read all about the sore throat and how swallowing even liquids is an issue, which makes me wonder . . . will I have a problem swallowing pain pills? Does anyone have any suggestions, tips, or tricks to make it easier?

Also - and this may sound stupid - how do you handle sneezing and hiccups? I don't typically do either very often, but here lately I've been doing both quite a bit! My tried-and-true method for curing hiccups is to drink water upside down from a glass . . . but that won't be an option for me after the surgery. Also, is there a safe way to sneeze?

These are the thoughts I have when I'm sitting in the recliner awake at night . . . :-)




  • Hi Becky,

    Advice I got was have things around that are smooth and thick - great excuse to drink milk shakes. Pudding, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, tuna fish - you could give that a try. With the pills, in the hospital they gave me pills in a teaspoon of applesace, which worked pretty well. The toughest thing to drink is water. For some reason carbonated is easier. Check w/your surgeon if it's ok to cut the pills if it's easier to swallow.

    With the sneezing, try not to tense up, and support your neck with your hands. I'm not sure what to do with hiccups.

    Best wishes for a quick recovery!
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Thanks for the tips, KarenD! The advice of those who have bravely gone before is invaluable!
  • I had two level ACDF (C4-6) on July 4 and i am still in collar. Luckily, I never had swallowing issues or sore throat. Hope you will have the same luck.
    Sneezing for me stops when i close my nose. I still sneezed a couple of times in the last 1 month when i was late closing the nose. It's a scary experience but i didn't care much as i am in a hard collar. Closing both your nostrils tightly when u feel like sneezing definitely works.
    I generally have hiccups when i try to eat something with a dry mouth. i did not have this problem in the last 1 month as i have been drinking plenty of water and juices. remember to get your quota of 8 glasses per day. I am not sure if this really works.
  • I had two level ACDF on March 11, 2013 with no collar. While I did have a sore throat (not exactly a sore throat, more like my throat was raw) after surgery for about two days, it wasn't that bad. I ate ice cream and had no problem drinking or taking pills. My voice was a bit gravelly but all in all it was a really a non-issue in my recovery. I can answer other questions if you have them. Good luck!
    3/11/13 successful ACDF
    7/13 inconclusive discogram
    Currently in PT for lumbar pain
  • chrelseycchrelsey Posts: 90
    edited 08/07/2013 - 6:27 AM
    Seshu - Thanks for your reply and your tips. I am SO not a water drinker, but feel I will definitely need to change my thinking and habits to make sure I get enough!

    Born2Run - Thank you, too, for sharing your experience. It is a huge encouragement to me to know that the not-being-able-to-swallow thing was not your experience, as I had begun to believe that it was just a foregone conclusion from reading other posts. I do have a question for you, though, regarding not wearing a collar. Were you told not to move or turn your neck at all for any length of time, or were you able to make even small movements?

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    I had to wear a hard collar for about 6 to 7 weeks 24.x7 That presented a different set of problems.

    I think the hardest thing I had to do was sleeping. We did buy a foam wedge and putting that on a single bed made the world of difference

    Food, much of what the folks said above. Plus I did a lot of shakes, with veggies, eggs, etc.... sort of protein shakes
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 08/07/2013 - 8:04 AM

    Ice cream was the most soothing thing for my throat. Make sure you have plenty in!

    Fruit smoothies helped me to swallow tablets. I agree with Karen and found water to be very difficult to swallow but strangely thicker liquids were easier.

    For hiccups, you could try holding your breath but also a teaspoonful of sugar seems to be successful. (If you can swallow the sugar!! Lol!)

    If you feel you are going to sneeze, holding your nostrils closed may stop the sneeze. If you can sit at a table, with your elbows resting on the table and hold your head still with your thumbs under your chin and your pointer fingers pressing your nostrils closed. Best practice that! I hope that it will work for you. (If you can't stop the sneeze then release your nostrils or your head will blow up! Haha!)

    Good luck for your surgery :-)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    edited 08/07/2013 - 3:36 PM
    But sneezing. I am a Loud and Powerful sneezer. When I do sneeze , its generally 4 to 6 without stopping.
    Last October I had cataract surgery done. Everything was fine, UNTIL I went into a one of those 5 Strong and Powerful sneezes. The next couple of days, my right eye was always tearing. Lots of fluid. I called the doctor, she had me come in.
    Well, my sneezing dislodge the work that was done and opened a wound in my eye. I had to have 4 stitches put in to keep things in order.

    SO , sneezing can do a lot..... HOW to stop them - I only wish I knew
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • kamgramkkamgram Posts: 483
    edited 08/07/2013 - 5:38 PM
    I worked with elderly patients and when they began having swallowing problems it was always water. There is a product you can buy to thicken liquids. It is a powder and it can thicken to consistency of a milk shake and it has no flavor. We had to try and although water didn't taste different the consistency was weird for water. Would probably be good with a water flavor added. Maybe this would help if you need to drink more water.

  • Ron - Thanks for the tip about the wedge for sleeping - I have been thinking about trying to find something similar. And ouch! Sorry to hear about your sneezing issues after your eye surgery! See, that's why sneezing after this has kind of gotten me worried! I'm not a powerful sneezer like you are (although my hubbie is!), but I've been paying closer attention to how I do things, and I really jerk my neck when I sneeze. Guess I need to practice holding still!

    Jellyhall - I am with you on the ice cream, and plan to have a good supply on hand! I'm actually making a new honey buttermilk ice cream recipe later this weekend. My hubbie and I raise heritage breed chickens, and we sell chicks and fresh eggs, and we recently began selling a non-GMO feed (which officially makes us a feed store - LOL!). There is also a small dairy nearby where we buy raw milk. All of that to say, this will be my first experiment in making ice cream with fresh eggs and the raw milk. Crossing my fingers for creamy yumminess!

    Kelli - I find it surprising that water is one of the harder things to swallow, but that definitely seems to be a common problem a lot have mentioned. Go figure! I think thick water would be weird, too, but I like your idea of using it with flavored water. Since I'm not a water drinker, I tend to flavor my water anyway!

    Blessings to all!

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