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Post ACDF - My journey of recovery and exercise

greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
edited 12/30/2013 - 5:22 AM in Exercise and Rehab
This is my attempt to journal and share my recovery efforts following a single level ACDF so that others might have some sort of guide as to what they might expect following surgery. I realize that everyone starts at different points and takes different paths so your mileage may vary.

My goal is to post at least weekly until I reach a post level of recovery similar to my pre-injury status or until I no longer progress.

About me:

- 46 male, 6' 0" (post surgery) 200 lbs (about 10-15 lbs heavier than normally put on since the injury)

- I work mostly in an office setting at a computer with rare cherished visits to the field

- Exercise and health have always been very important to me and I would have to really adjust my definition of what quality of life is if I were not able to be active. I do it for health and enjoyment.

- Pre-injury I worked out 6 days a week consisting of running, swimming, biking, and strength training. I competed on a personal level in running races, sprint triathlons, and obstacles course/mud run events. I also spend time on the water sailing, surfing, and kayaking. I enjoy backpacking and am section hiking the Appalachian Trail with friends a couple times a year.
C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013


  • I injured myself back in Feb 2013 doing punching drills in karate. This mainly consisted of tingling and numbness in my R. ring/pinky. I gradually got better (so I thought). Then re-injured in Jun 2013 with a practice kiteboarding kite. That one laid me out for a week and got me to the Dr for an MRI. I started PT and it gradually got better (so I thought). In late Aug 2013, I was doing some strength training dumbell rows and laid me out for a week again and back to zero at PT. This one has stayed with me. My pain was manageable most time without meds but was still constantly there. I could only sleep on my back as opposed to my side or stomach as usual. The thing that concerned the Dr's was that I had lost strength in my hand. PT Dr, pain management Dr, and neuro Dr all agreed it was time for surgery.

    My full newbie introduction and MRI results are here:

    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I was the first surgery of the day for my doctor on 12Dec2013 and it took about 2 hours. I was in post op for a couple hours until my room cleared, stayed overnight, and was discharged around 1100 on 13Dec2013 (yes Friday the 13th).

    I am very fortunate in that my wife is a Registered Nurse and works in the operating room with neuro and ortho surgeries. She was able to tell me which doctor was the best at our hospital and had good enough relationships to be able to pick my surgical assistant, anesthesiologist, scrub tech, and circulating nurse for my surgery (they wouldn't allow her in there).

    I woke with really no more pain in my arms and hands. There was still some numbness my right hands pinky and ring finder but it was diminished and some weakness in my right hand. The pain from the incision site and the common issue with swallowing were the worst part. I had a soft collar (not the Miami J) that I was to wear until my first post op Dr's visit 11 days later.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 12/30/2013 - 5:34 AM
    I had my Post Op Dr's visit 11 days after the surgery on 23Dec2013. Everything was fine with incision site, range of motion and feeling/pain. I was cleared at that point to go back to work and I no longer was required to wear the collar. For exercise, the neurosurgeon (NS) cleared me to continue walking and even a "light jog" on a treadmill. He advised me to refrain from NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, as the body's inflammatory response aided in recovery and fusing process. The NS also said that did not need a bone stimulator as that was more typical of multilevel fusions. My next visit was scheduled for about a month later.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 12/30/2013 - 6:07 AM
    From my initial injury in Feb 2013, I had made what I thought was a full recovery not knowing the actual duration for a herniated disk to reabsorb material and rebuild the outer ring strength. I did not have an MRI until re-injuring the first time. My biggest downfall here was not seeing a doctor after the initial injury. I seemed to have initial pain and tingling when I first started a run but it felt better the more I go into it. So I kept doing it and thought I was better.

    The first re-injury in Jun 2013 put me in the ER and totally out of exercise and work for a week. I did not feel the full brunt of the injury until two days after it occurred. I was on steroids, pain med, and muscle relaxers. I felt pretty good at about ten days and started some short runs and was back in the swing with strength training another week later. I did a sprint triathlon after another three weeks.

    The second re-injury in Aug 2013 was much like my first. Totally out of exercise and work for a week. Steroids, pain med, and muscle relaxers. This time though the pain never went away. After about two weeks, the shock from running was too much and I had to stop. Strength training was definitely gone. Another week, and the shock from walking was too much and I was limited to stationary biking only.

    I did continue stationary recumbant biking 1 hour a day for 6-7 days a week up to the day before surgery. I tried elliptical and treadmills but the shock and twisting put me in pain.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 12/30/2013 - 6:22 AM
    I only missed three days of exercise leading up and following surgery. The day of the surgery I was not allowed any water or food so that you do not aspirate into your lungs during surgery (bad) so no exercise that day. I did not exercise the day I was released from the hospital or the first full day at home. Note that I am pretty susceptible to medicine's effects so the anesthesia game me some disassociated body feelings that did not go away for about a week.

    Nonetheless, the third day post op I felt good enough to go on an assisted (wife) walk around the neighborhood. I did my 5K route in 58:47. Not a great pace but just ecstatic to be outside. On a side note my wife is three months in at this point in her recovery of a serious concussion and brain injury from a rollerblading accident so we make quite a pair!

    I continued this week walking between two and three miles a day. Sometimes I would split the three miles into two in the morning and then another one mile in the afternoon. Since I could not drive, this helped me feel less trapped in the house. I did no other real physical activity and was usually pretty wiped out by early afternoon.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 12/30/2013 - 6:42 AM
    I continued walking my 5K route for the first two days before my Post Op NS visit. As mentioned above, he cleared me for continued walking and a "light jog" on the treadmill. No street jogging and stop if anything hurts.

    I am anxious as all to get back to running but I am choosing a more cautious route than the NS as I tend to overdo it and re-injure myself. Also, I don't believe jogging exists. Either you walk or you run. The term jogging is just an insult for slow runners like me :). I also am aware that I have put an extra 10-15 pounds on and I do not want that weight to cause a foot/ankle/knee/hip issue and sideline me again. Slow and steady is my new mantra.

    I began alternating daily between an hour stationary biking and a four mile walk. I have picked up my walking pace and did my last walk of 4.17 miles with a 13:23 pace. I finished the week off with a 16 mile slow (10 mph) actual bike ride. There was some muscle soreness around my neck and incision site and awareness of the loss of strength in my shoulders, triceps, and wrist/hands. I rode a mountain bike as I was worried my road bike might transmit too much road vibration. I did not notice much issues with range of motion but my position was very upright.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I have continued this week with the alternating of walking and stationary bike riding. I decided I would up my distance walking to a four (4) mile minimum route so my three days of walking netted me 12.9 miles this week. My biking was all stationary and so three (3) hours of that.

    I think I am at close to my minimum/fastest pace walking and am averaging about 13:15 pace. It is hard to go much faster without breaking into a slow run. I had to run across the street one day to miss some traffic and no pain from the neck but realized how much strength I have lost in my legs - argh!

    I vacuumed the car out over the weekend on my day off and that was pretty aggressive due to the amount of embedded dog hair (boy do labs shed). I did not have any pain from it and felt good to do something normal.

    I have no real constant pain at this point from the surgery. I do continue to have little jolts that end up in my hands as tingling or spikes of pain. My neck muscles continue to be somewhat sore on the sides and sometimes creep over into headache pain. My left hand continues to be normal and right hand feels best in the morning and ring and pinky still have some numbness.

    I am looking forward to getting the green light from the NS to start swimming again.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Week 4 started to be a continuation of the cycle of walking and stationary riding until the second walk of my week. I typically exercise in the morning around 0500 and still plenty dark outside. The temperature had plummeted and you guessed it - I slipped on a patch of ice and fell. I didn't go all the way down but enough to get blood going from my knee and worse, try to catch my fall with a straight left arm. This transmitted directly to my neck!

    Later that day I felt some pain radiation and tingling in my left hand. I was really upset and wondering what had I done. The good news is that it subsided over about three days. I had some real soreness in my neck muscles and had that vulnerable feeling again that I had after surgery. Unfortunately, I think we will all eventually have one of those moments where we wonder if we are going to break apart and be back where we started or worse. I have decided that going on walks in the dark when there is ice is probably out for me for quite some time but not to let fear control the way I live. Patience and balance.

    For exercise, I did start on an elliptical during week five and had no adverse effects from it. The arm motion felt good but a couple twinges and I would rest them whenever I felt it. It is going to take some considerable time to build upper body strength back.

    Get my first post op xray and NS opinion on fusion next Monday so looking forward to hopefully some good news.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • This past week I have continued to do the stationary bike for an hour a day at home and make it to the gym on the weekend and do the elliptical for an hour on Saturday and Sunday. It feels good to get some upper body work in to the regimen. The weather has been below freezing and there is ice on the ground. My family forbids me to go out walking until it is gone as they are afraid I will fall again. I am mildly protesting but see the logic loud and clear.

    I saw the NS and he told me that everything looks good on the xray. He wants to see me again in another six weeks and that is my last regular scheduled post op visit. He did have some concerns that my pinky was still numb and that there is still a bit of weakness in my right hand. He told me to use a squeeze ball and some resistance exercises by holding my right fingers together with my left hand and trying to spread them out on my right (if that makes any sense).

    Another six weeks seems like a lot of time but I have to remember how long it took me to get here. The total amount of time at that point will be about 3 months post op which is what I thought I would be down for to start.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • anelsen15 said:
    greggva, the rest of your life is worth taking it slow. Cool idea to log rehab, much better than seeing studies is actual patients.
    I really appreciate the feedback and hope this will be helpful to others. I know I will have successes and setbacks and sharing those will hopefully give some insight. I am right with you on taking it slow.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I'll continue to follow your recovery. I have an ACDF scheduled for 2/6 and I'd rather read a positive story like yours than get myself all worked up reading the other side of surgery recovery. Thanks for sharing.
    Herniation of l5 S1 l4 , DDD , microdisectomy in June 2013 and re herniation in September
    Cervical herniation at C5-7 Jan 2014 with impingement of spinal cord. 2 level cervical fusion Feb. 2014 and 2 level lumbar fusion in April 2014
  • on my nerves said:
    I'll continue to follow your recovery. I have an ACDF scheduled for 2/6 and I'd rather read a positive story like yours than get myself all worked up reading the other side of surgery recovery. Thanks for sharing.
    I really hope your surgery goes well and appreciate the comment!
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Two more weeks under my belt on the road to recovery. I am continuing with the stationary bike for an hour a day in the morning. Temperatures are finally getting warmer and snow has melted so hoping to get some walking next week as well. I started on a bathroom remodel this weekend and may have overdone it a bit. The bathroom is upstairs and the mortar bags are 50 and 80 lbs. I know, what was I thinking. I carried three 50 lb bags up and on the second 80 lb bag felt a pull and have some slight tingling in my left hand. I left the last one downstairs and will see what the fallout is tomorrow as injuries tend to take a day to show up for me. It is just so hard for me to sit on the sideline and wait. Bottom line is that I knew after I carried the 50 lb bags that the 80's were probably to heavy and should have stopped. You just really have to listen to that voice and play it safe.

    I finally got to a big box sports store and bought a hand exerciser. It looks kind of like one of those padded can opener handles with a spring in the middle which keeps it open. It seems to work the pointer and index fingers more than the ring and pinky where I have more strength issues. I am keeping it in the drink holder in the car so that I do a couple sets with each hand on the way in and back from work. This helps with my road rage during traffic imagining I am working on my strangling strength for the moron in front of me.... The weakness in my right hand is very apparent comparing bilaterally like this. I have heard that therapy clay/putty works well also and may try that too.

    I also picked up a used Concept 2 rowing machine. I have not been cleared to use it yet (like I was cleared for the bathroom remodel). I figure it will be a good source of total body exercise with minimal shock. I rowed a bit when I was in college. You really have to watch your posture or it can stress your lower back.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Glad I found this site. Tomorrow will be 9 wks post C567 ACDF, and I'm hitting the gym. I will format my own program and stay away from stress on the neck. My NS said use common sense when lifting and no high impact stuff. My final xrays are March 6. I will keep you all informed on my progress.
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 02/11/2014 - 10:19 AM
    Robbie said:
    Glad I found this site. Tomorrow will be 9 wks post C567 ACDF, and I'm hitting the gym. I will format my own program and stay away from stress on the neck. My NS said use common sense when lifting and no high impact stuff. My final xrays are March 6. I will keep you all informed on my progress.
    Best of luck to you in your recovery. I think most people who were active prior tend to push a little more than they should so I hope you take it slow. Easier said than done and I wish I took my own advice more often. I would be interested to hear what exercises you end up doing.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Thanks Gregg. I'm just doing basic upper body stuff. Triceps, biceps, some lat work and a lot of cardio. I can't do much in direct shoulder exercises. Right now is low weight and low rep. My left arm is still extremely weak. I have some soreness in my neck and upper back muscles, but doc say's that is normal. I also made some mistakes while at work, lifting beams, plywood, or just grabbing a box of nails. Really, I feel great compared to the last few months. I'm getting stronger and taking it slow. I do not want to do this again. I'm interested in your progression, as it seems to be in line with mine
  • Same basic routine continues with the stationary bike and a trip to the YMCA to use the elliptical. Put in just 5 hours 12 minutes last week according to the heart rate monitor but I did take an extra day off due to the ongoing bathroom remodel. Last week I had picked up a few 80 lb bags of mortar and felt a pull on my neck's left side. I felt tingles primarily in my left hand's thumb and pointer fingers. They were not extremely painful but just more odd pinpricks that came and went. I think my pain scale has been shifted after the whole disc herniation experience. Short of a dying infected molar tooth root and the subsequent root canal and crown, I do not know that I have any stronger pain experience than disc herniation. Anyway, the tingles have become less and I don't remember having any today so far - good news and not looking to repeat the experiment.

    The weight. Mine to be specific. I am having a real, real hard time dropping the weight that I put on prior to surgery in my period of lessened activity. It is ever so slowly coming off at about 0 - 0.5 lbs per week. I think that the limited variety of exercise types that I can do is partially to blame. I am a fan of cross training and muscle confusion so I believe the hours on hours of stationary biking have conditioned me in that area and it will be pretty hard to progress. Also, for relatively fit people cardiovascular exercise generally stops making its benefits when you stop. Heart rate goes down, some small recovery and back to resting state. Compare to strength training where muscle repair goes on for hours after you have stopped the exercise and the body responds to the stress by producing new muscle fibers to prepare you for the next encounter. It takes more calories to feed this increase muscle mass on a daily basis.

    I think for me a combination of the plateau of stationary biking, lack of variety, and decreased muscle mass have me fighting the weight at a disadvantage. I am not complaining (sort of) but trying to understand why six hours of exercise on a 1,600 calorie diet puts me where I am.

    Looking forward to getting cleared to do more!
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I injected a little variety in my workout schedule this week and think it proved to be fruitful. I was able to incorporate an abdominal routine (P90X Ab Ripper) and felt some great muscular soreness for a couple days in all the right places. No adverse twinges or pain in the arms, shoulders, back, or neck. It felt really good to have a strength type workout soreness. I will be making this a regular insert to my rehab routine. Think the ab work might not be good for people with other than cervical type issues.

    The weather also swung about 30 degrees here and was upper sixties so I was able to walk one day and got in a real road biking session (17 miles). Some minor issues with flexibility looking left and right but overall very good. I think this will improve with time and stretching when cleared to do so. No residual soreness, pain, or tingles associated with the workout so very positive.

    Last bit of good news is that I lost almost 1 lb this week so hoping that this trend continues.

    Week exercise stats:

    Time - 7:48:26
    Calories - 3,777
    Biking (5x), Elliptical (1x), Walking (1x), Abs (1x)
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I am hopeful I will be in the same position as you at some point. I am not in as good shape as you and I am a bit older so I do have that against me. I tried going back to the gym last week to just walk and by the end of the week I was in so much pain. My husband thinks I was doing too much too soon.

    I also have lumbar issues and am scheduled for a TLIF on 4/10 so I have that going against me right now too. I'm looking forward to finally being better and able to get myself back into shape.
    Herniation of l5 S1 l4 , DDD , microdisectomy in June 2013 and re herniation in September
    Cervical herniation at C5-7 Jan 2014 with impingement of spinal cord. 2 level cervical fusion Feb. 2014 and 2 level lumbar fusion in April 2014
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 02/28/2014 - 4:58 PM
    It definitely seems that the better shape you are going into surgery will affect how quickly you recover afterwards. So if you can hit the stationary bike, walk, or even swim. I would do as much as possible that does not irritate your condition prior to the surgery. Just stay away from the heavy stuff and things that jolt your spine - weights and running.

    Hoping all goes well for you!
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 03/09/2014 - 2:45 PM
    Three month post op is coming up!!! Really hoping to get release to do some other exercises. I really feel plateaued with what I am able to do now and looking forward to some other routines and adding some weights.

    Weather is still acting crazy so getting a routine has been difficult. I have stayed constant with my stationary biking as the mainstay for exercise. It gets my heart up but I find that my legs are staying sore constantly because I don't give them a break with other routines. Had a beautiful day putting 16 mi road biking. Did the ab workout again and generally sore for about 3-5 days afterwards.

    I continue to have some neck soreness that I have been tracking. I think it comes from the stationary biking where I am gripping the handles next to the seat. Sometimes I lift myself off the seat with them when biking to stretch a little. I don't think it is pain coming from by fusion site but will be interested to see if it goes away when I am doing other exercises.

    Grip in my hand has gotten considerable better from using the exerciser in the car. Started to make a little game out of it with my daughter to see who can do more. My right hand (dominant and originally injured) is still a bit weaker than my left. I can see a little muscle development in the webbing of my right hand between my thumb and pointer that had wasted away prior to surgery. Numbness is about the same.

    Some stats for the last two weeks:

    Week 11:
    Time - 5:12:46
    Calories - 2,374
    Stationary Biking (5x)

    Week 12:
    Time - 7:57:28
    Calories - 3,250
    Stationary Biking (6x), Road Biking (1x), Abs (1x)
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Post surgery. Last post was beginning of weight lifting regiment. Started with 5lbs, biceps, triceps, rows and butterflies. Experienced muscle pain in both sides of neck, down middle of back. Now at 15lbs, soreness mostly in left arm. Note, before Oct of 2013, I was doing these same exercises with 55lbs. Had xrays last Friday the 6th, Doc said looks good, and cleared me for full duty. Which includes; competitive team roping, moving up in exercise output, and complete work release. Of course I still have to be careful, as the fusion process is ongoing for up to a year. But this recovery has gone exactly as prescribed, and I could not be happier.
  • Looks like you are making some really good progress!
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I had my three month post op visit on 10 Mar 2014 with the NS. Prior same day he had me go and take more X-rays. These were done with my neck in various states of flexion and a funny one with my mouth open as far as it could go looking straight ahead. Seemed like that was a prank...

    He told me that all looked good and that I was cleared to do basically anything that did not cause direct pressure down on my head so standing on it was a no-no. Need to get a note from him for my boss. My NS is an excellent surgeon but not a real talkative guy so I have to pry a little to get things out of him. I went through asking him one by one on exercises to get his approval - cycling (yes), swimming (yes), running (yes), skydiving (I would give it another three months). Not that I intend to but I was trying to find if there were actual limits. He said that complete fusion normally takes between six and twelve months.

    Again, I continue to have some numbness in my pinky but it seems ever so gradually that it has dissipated from my ring finger where only a little is left. I hope that this model will continue with my pinky and I get more feeling back and it does not feel half frozen all the time.

    I am really looking forward to throwing some variability in my workouts!
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Over the last several weeks I have gently introduced new exercise into my mostly stationary biking routine. The new entries are running, swimming, rowing, rollerblading, and a little strength training. There is a big, big temptation to try and jump back into these at a level close to where I left them. I keep telling myself that I may be able to do more than what I am doing but I could send myself back to the NS, PT, or operating room if I overdo it. Whether or not this is true, I don't know but the SLOW and STEADY mantra has gotten me back to where I am now virtually injury free.

    Running: I had been walking about 4 miles so I kept the distance the same. I warmed up with a mile walk, ran a mile, and walked two more to cool down. Each time out I am upping the distance of the run and will eventually start with running. So far no negative issues other than getting the shins, knees, and other body parts used to the pounding again. I have tried to use the short step, higher turnover rate form of running. This does lessen the impact on your body but it just takes some getting used to if you have not run this way in the past. Run pace is still over 10 min/mile.

    Swimming: Great time in the pool and think I could have done this sooner. I put in 1,300m and 2,100m very slow (avg around 2:30/100m). The only issue is the lengthening of the body with the reach and a little pulling on the nerves. Nothing really hurt but I was aware that this area was in play and felt different. Also, major upper body weakness from atrophy of not using and losing. Not a whole lot you can do to maintain while recovering so I think this was mostly inevitable.

    Rowing: I have a Concept 2 rower that I picked up while injured. I used to row a bit in college and know that it is a great all body workout. I still think it is but it does put quite a bit of strain across my upper back/neck and in my lower back. Part of this is just being out of shape in the upper body as well as watching posture. I have had some lingering tingling after using the rower and am watching this carefully. This motion is similar to what re-herniated my disks (lawnmower dumbells and kiteboarding practice). I may just be susceptible but would advise caution here especially if you have not rowed in the past. It is very, very easy to do it wrong. Pace is around 2:50/500m.

    Rollerblading: I rollerblade very little but went with my wife to conquer the 16 mile trail where she had fallen and sustained a serious concussion and brain injury that she is recovering from currently (the doctor gave permission). The exercise is great and potentially low impact; however, it is very unforgiving if you lose your balance. I did this and landed for the most part on my right knee and chest, very hard. I was wearing a helmet which is MANDATORY. I really don't recommend this unless you are so driven to do it that you can't live without it.

    Strength Training: I have been a fan of the P90X workouts and tried a couple of them very selectively. The Kempo and Ab Ripper routines are good mostly aerobic routines that just use your own body weight. I have also tried some very light weights, 5-10 lbs, for general curls and lateral side raises. I am trying my best to work both sides in parallel as my NS told me that asymmetrical (one side at a time) exercise has a much higher chance of causing herniation. This is because the spine is not evenly loaded and pushes disk material from one side to the other. I am avoiding heavy weights and asymmetrical exercise for the foreseeable future.

    Some weekly stats:

    Week 13:
    Time - 6:24:12
    Calories - 2,696
    Stationary Biking (4x), Rowing (1x), Run/Walk (1x), Road Biking (1x)

    Week 14:
    Time - 5:38:18
    Calories - 3,403
    Stationary Biking (5x), Rowing (1x)

    Week 15:
    Time - 9:09:38
    Calories - 4,986
    Swimming (2x), Treadmill Walk/Run (2x), Stationary Biking (1x), Road Biking (1x), Elliptical (1x), Strength Training (1x)
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 04/15/2014 - 6:52 AM
    My week 15 I pushed pretty hard, flew from Virginia to Alaska to Virginia, and got a little jet lagged. So week 16 - I took a break. I think it is important to do this every now and then when you have been pushing hard and give your body a chance to recover some more. If you don't allow it, your body is more susceptible to illness and you will find yourself sick and taking a break anyway. This does not mean three, five, seven days of pizza buffet and beer but ramp down the intensity, flush with lots of water, and get some extra sleep. Then come back ready to go.

    Week 17 I decided to focus a little more on my running and went out three times which was my pre-injury amount. The first run I started by warming up walking for a mile and ran the rest of the way. My second run was my first run starting with running since surgery and I have continued that was since. I have done a couple half-marathons in the past but was never a fast long distance runner. My pace is definitely slower now but am beginning to feel the strength coming back in my legs, ankles, and calves. Total distance for the week was 14.49 miles!

    I also put in some core work with P90X Core Synergistics and a chest/shoulder/tricep routine with very light weights (5-15lbs) and higher reps.

    Overall feeling really good but the weight does not seem to be coming off much at all. I have to remember that muscle weighs more than fat so there is a trade off going on that will eventually show itself. Also, building muscle under the fat pushes the fat out and can make clothes seem a little tighter until the fat is gone. Trying to be patient and not get discouraged.

    Still very little to no pain. Numbness in the right hand right pinky about the same. Right hand weakness about the same.

    Weekly stats:

    Week 16:
    Time - 1:30:29
    Calories - 870
    Stationary Biking (1x), Rowing (1x)

    Week 17:
    Time - 4:37:30
    Calories - 2,992
    Run/Walk (3x), Core Workout (1x), Chest/Shoulder/Tricep Workout (1x)
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • While not back 100%, I am back to a level where my health is in a state of Kaizen (continuous improvement) with small gains occurring each time I go out and exercise.

    My pre-injury state consisted of working out 6 days a week consisting mainly of running, swimming, biking, and strength training. I also had started racing in sprint triathlons, and obstacles course/mud run events. I also participated a bit in water activities like sailing, surfing, and kayaking and did a couple backpacking trips each year on the Appalachian Trail.

    I am consistently back to working out six days a week with no bouts of significant pain. I do have stiffness in my neck that seems above pre-op and my range of motion is slightly reduced. Over the last six weeks I have done most of my pre-op items including back to back weekends on the AT hiking over 50 miles carrying a 30-40 pound pack.

    I am still working on my "surgery weight" that I gained and my run/swim times are still slower than they were pre-surgery but I subscribe to another Japanese proverb "Nanakorobi Yaoki" which is seven times down, eight times up and feel truly fortunate with my outcome thus far.

    I am beginning to accept that the lack of feeling in my right hand is probably permanent and finding the backspace and letter p on the keyboard will never be the same and the feeling of washing my hair will always feel a little foreign. These, to me, are small prices to pay when I think of the pain and immobile state that I was in before.

    I plan to continue to check off Items as the make sense (my first post-op sprint tri!), likely cross some things off as well, and also to try new things just because I can. I intend to continue to post as I do these and provide some insight for those beginning their journey.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 09/21/2014 - 4:44 AM
    Completed my first post-op Sprint Triathlon in the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina last weekend and finished 9th for my age group! I am getting very close to my pre-injury conditioning and don't see any obstacles at this point to keep me from getting there. I feel very, very fortunate but have put in a lot of effort and patience to get here. I am looking forward to a season of snowboarding coming up that I missed the last year!

    I still have numbness in my right hand. Primarily my right pinky and have some issues typing with it. I tend to have less numbness after exercise and guess that is because my body is loosened up and might indicate I still have some pinched point on my nerve. I am still hoping for long-term continued improvement.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Followed your posts....Just had mine done 8 days ago--C4, C5, C6, C7. Neck is stiff and a little sore in the back right, fine motor skills in hands have returned a little, but index finger in right hand is numb. They say its probably due to swelling. Started walking a few days ago. First walk wore me out. Prior to surgery, at 49 I was probably the best shape I've been since my mid 20's. I rode MTB at least 3 times a week and in the gym 3 days. Weight at 225. Also ride enduro motorcycles every Sunday. Dr says can't ride for at least 6 months--->that's a killer. Taking it a day at a time and watching my calorie intake so I don't blow up like a balloon. Have 6 weeks off but it sucks because I really can't do anything yet except spend time on the computer and watch TV. All in all glad I did it but can't wait to get back to doing things again. Off to the gym for a quick walk, maybe I'll even get on the spin bike.
  • Bottom line: I feel good!

    After one year I am close to my pre-injury state with a couple of exceptions. I think, what appeared to be, permanent nerve damage in my right pinky may ever so slowly get full feeling back. It has good days and bad days (it's just a pinky). Following swimming workouts, I can still have some radiating pain that is associated with sore muscles. Good stretching and most goes away. It will manifest in my wrist and elbow. Similar to pre-surgery pain but much less intense.

    Overall, I am doing what I want, when I want with just the regular post workout soreness. I really could not ask for more!

    Best of luck to those that in a similar pre-surgery or recovering state. My best advice is to go slow to go fast. Small steps forward are better than large ones back. Stay positive and be patient. Just because you feel okay does not mean your body has healed.

    Carpe diem - Gregg
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
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