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Home recupperating ACDF c4-7

Let me start off by saying how much I hate this aspen collar. Most uncomfortable contraption that digs into my skull or lower back.
Everything went like clockwork on Monday. Was at the hospital at 530 had 2 IV going by 6 talked with the anesthesia and the surgeon about 7 and wheeled into the OR about 715. I woke up a little before noon and was moaning a bit, they gave me a shot of dilaudid and no more pain issues while there.
Surgeon came out and said they used a 52mm post, the longest he's ever used on a three level fusion. Yes I have a long neck. He did say there were no major surprises, except for the extent and size of the bone spurs.
On Tuesday the surgeon came in right before noon and said he was discharging me to go home, Well not quite so fast, my blood pressure didn't cooperate. for the next 4 hours I had to lay there being quiet until it finally came down.
Stopped at the pharmacy on the way home, every sick person in town had to have been there. I did get extra fast service and was home by 5.
Dogs were happy to see me, Sarah, the german shepherd, had slept on the stair landing where she could keep an eye on the door.
My sister has been a tremendous help, especially with the dogs. Sarah doesn't understand why I won't play tug of war with her.
So far things are going very well, sticking to the limits placed on me, and only taking the collar off to eat and shower.
Did I mention how much I hate this damn collar...
I'll keep everyone posted on my recovery, and thank everyone for their prayers.
laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched


  • Hope the collar is only temporary and you continue to heal. Good luck!
    Spinal fusion T5-L3 Revision was a Failed surgery on March of 2012
    Kyphosis of the spine out of options.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I hated wearing that thing. That being said if it is causing too much pain you might need a new collar with a better fit. When we are fitted for the collar before surgery we did not have all the swelling and such as after surgery. I had to have mine changed at one surgery due to the swelling.
  • Davrunner- I have been looking for your post op post. Glad to hear positive news.
    My surgery seems successful at this time & recovery has been much easier than expected. Very minor throat issues and recovery pain was less than constant pain I have been living with for years. I agree the worst part is the collar - I am wearing a Miami J collar. It is difficult but bearable. I can only remove the collar to eat. My follow up xray & doctor appointment in 3 weeks so I hope the fusion is working & I will get to decrease collar time.
    I also have a bone stimulator to wear 4 hours a day for 4 weeks. That is easy & whatever helps the process to work.
    Wishing you well davrunner.
    Thinking of all the other January surgery buddies and wishing a speedy recovery to all!
    ACDF Surgery January 16
    C 4/5 & 5/6
  • I had lumbar fusion, not cervical fusion, but I just wanted both of you to know I'm happy your surgeries went well. Good luck healing!
    Synovial cyst removal in 2008. L4-L5 facet joint.
    Lumbar fusion at L4-L5 in December 2013. TLIF posterior entry
  • PdentronePPdentrone Posts: 5
    edited 01/26/2014 - 4:06 AM
    My c6/c7 was 5 days ago...feeling your pain with the aspen collar. Good luck
  • davrunnerddavrunner Posts: 478
    edited 01/26/2014 - 7:08 AM
    If there is good bone growth at 6 weeks he'll let me take it off to drive to work. So far the pain meds and muscle relaxers are doing their job. Not sleeping well, but the investment in the recliner was definitely worth it. I'm going to order extra pads for the collar that I can put under the pressure points, the back of my head feels like I have been stabbed, where the plastic digs in.
    I wasn't given a bone stimulator, was on the list of questions that I was going to ask preop but forgot to ask.
    My sister has been wonderful, making sure I follow all the rules and walks the dogs and cooks for me. I'm going to miss her when she leaves next Saturday. I have wonderful neighbors and co-workers to call on if needed.
    One issue is my hoarseness, immediately upon waking up I could speak normally and thought I had dodged the bad swelling and scratchy throat. But the second and third day after it got worse. I am 6 days post op and still hoarse, only have issues eating bread, just have to take lots of liquids with it.
    Shaving for the first time was no fun, I do have a large patch of skin that is numb and shaving felt like the blade was getting stuck. of course I didn't shave right around the incision.
    I see the surgeon for my first post op on Feb 4th. Will keep everyone updated on this post, for those that want to follow. and for the former January buddies thread I'll try and follow your recoveries as well. Praying for those going in this week, It really is no where near as bad as the pre-surgery anxiety we put ourselves through.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • GOLSFGGOLSF Posts: 15
    edited 01/26/2014 - 9:01 AM
    Glad to hear your surgery was a success and that you are recuperating well. I had ACDF C5-C6 December 23rd and can relate to your statement on pre-surgical jitters. I didn't sleep at all the night before due to anxiety.

    You'll come to realize that the aspen collar is your ally in recovery. It is playing a major role in supporting the corrections made in the surgery. The three month mark will arrive before you know it. To ensure the best possible outcome, follow your surgeon's directions carefully.

    I also have the numb patch on the neck, but it has been regaining sensation gradually since the trauma of surgery. Shaving around the incision will take some practice. You might try surgical tape to cover the incision and protect it as you shave around it.

    I recommend getting the pad replacements for the collar. As you become more mobile, you'll want a fresh pair daily as they get pretty dank from 24 hour operation, part of my morning ritual is washing the used ones in the sink, putting in the fresh set, and letting the others dry by a sunny window,

    I have found it helpful to wrap a scarf around the collar. I have a nice black scarf that covers it entirely. It is important to start your walking regimen soon. I have a podometer app on my phone that tracks daily distance, blood pressure and weight. Being sedentary is not good for fusion.

    Wishing you patience, and a speedy and complete recovery.
  • davrunnerddavrunner Posts: 478
    edited 01/28/2014 - 6:36 AM
    I am getting more used to the collar every day. The surgeon gave me the extra pads for the collar so I can change them as needed. I do get a lot of pressure point pain on my skull where the collar digs in, realize it is telling me to lift my chin a bit.
    Question for those with cervical fusion that had to wear the collar, how soon were you able to transition from a recliner to bed. I'm doing ok in the recliner not sleeping like I should?
    Have learned that holding a coffee cup in my hand is not the right thing to do when dozing. have dumped two cups on myself. Thank goodness they weren't hot.
    I am starting walking on the treadmill today. It is near zero wind chill in Memphis this morning so outside walking is out until it warms up a bit.
    I have my sister here for another 4 days and then I will be calling on friends to help out. My neighbor is soo wonderful, she checks on me every day.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Thought about getting a recliner, but I live in a smallish condo and really didn't have space for one. I slept in my bed directly after the operation December 23rd. I did end up buying a wedge style pillow on Amazon that I've used daily, mostly in the living room.

    My ACDF was only a single level, C5/C6, and I never really had difficulty (beyond the first night or so) getting sleep or getting in or out of bed. The PT team at the hospital taught me a 'log roll' method which helped as my neck muscles were still readjusting and regaining their strength after the surgery.

    I was lucky to have my surgery around the holidays when family and friends were more available to help out. Really glad your sister was able to stay with you for the first two weeks. It is essential to have emotional support in addition to assistance getting basics done. All of the steroids, anesthesia, and pain killers will wreak havoc on one's emotional state. Having family and friends around can help with coping significantly.
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