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C4-C7 ACDF - pre-op questions

I'm set for C4-C7 ACDF surgery on Wednesday. If any cervical fusion surgery veterans have pointers, e.g., "things I wish they had told me" I would greatly appreciate hearing them. I'm an upper 40s male who will be undergoing my first inpatient surgery of any kind.

Also - do I need button-style pajama top and/or a robe? I don't own either.

Thanks in advance.


  • Yes you will need button shirts because you will not be able to lift your arms to put on the Tshirt type shirt. U will also benefit from a handheld shower head and a shower chair.you also need bendy straws because you won't be able to lift you head back to drink.
    If you have any Rx's that don't have anything to do with your neck, you should bring them because they will charge ridiculously for some and not have others. I had to have my husband bring my Relpax that I take for migraine because they
    didn't have it. Good luck.
  • Thanks so much - I got some pajamas, a henley shirt, a zip shirt jacket, plus some bendy straws today.
  • There is a post somewhere on here about all the stuff you will need.mi had a recliner where I spent most of the time. I also had a pillow to place under my knees when sleeping on the bed. You will need soft foods and lots to drink and so etching for a laxative because a common side effect of pain meds is constipation. I also found it helpful to keep a journal of my pain and my medication. When you first get out you will sleep a lot and forget what time you took what. Since you will be sleeping a lot you forget when you took it last. I will look for the post.
  • Handy List for Surgery

    Food Items
    • Soft foods including: Yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, jello cups, pre-made puddings & tapioca, protein bars, cereal, microwave oatmeal, bananas, chicken stock, microwave dinners, frozen pasta entrees, pre-made mashed potatoes, cookies, chocolate, lettuce, salad dressing, cheese, lunch meat, hot dogs, bread, bakery items.
    o Check for other soft foods that are healthier than this list ☺o People had a difficult time digesting food. Reports include nausea, increased thirst and fatigue so quick meals were essential.
    • Drinks – Plenty of bottled water bedside, Gatorade, Powerade, coke, ginger ale, other soft drinks, yogurt drinks, Ensure or Boost protein drinks, milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, other juices, tea, coffee with cream/sugar/sweetener, Black tea with honey/lemon that soothes the stomach.
    • Frozen fruit for blending smoothies in a Magic Bullet or blender
    • Protein Powder [will assist with bone fusion, particularly if you cannot chew much]
    • Bag of ice – small cubes
    • Ice chips to help dry or sore throat
    • Flexible and long straws
    • Paper plates and plastic cups
    • Candy, sugarless gum
    • Mints
    • Vitamins
    • Magic Bullet (or similar blender) for individual servings o It is great for individual blending/smoothies, etc. It is carried in most dept stores, kitchen stores, etc. It is great at blending up ice and much more convenient to have the individual serving size than the full size blender. Magic Bullet also has a website.
    Bathroom Items
    • Shower stool to Chair to sit in shower with soap/shampoo/shower gel on another chair for easy reach
    • Non-slip mat for shower
    • Hand shower
    • Long-handled Back scrubber
    • Nylon bath poof instead of wash cloth; easier to hold
    • Exfoliating skin towel. [Body Shop has these and they are great for rubbing off the dead skin and helping you feel fresh, especially if stuck in bed]
    • Toilet riser with or without side handles - $15-$25
    • Bedpan if necessary
    • Walker and/or cane per doctor

    Personal Items
    • Deodorant body wipes / wet wipes for freshening up (Drug Store has near the Depends. They are a large size.)
    • Pre-moistened facial cleansing cloths
    • Dry shampoo $5 from specialty beauty store
    • Powder – Shower to Shower or other
    • Face cream (I would suggest small sizes)
    • Hand cream
    • Body lotion for itchy skin
    • Lip balm, Chapstick
    • Mouthwash
    • Throat lozenges / Chloraseptic Spray
    • Kleenex
    • Wound dressings per doctor
    • Thermometer to check temp after surgery
    • Stool softener / Suppositories for constipation (Some found they couldn’t keep the pills down and/or they got stomach cramps from the pills)
    • Prune Juice taken with a dose of Milk of Magnesia for dire cases of constipation - it takes about 2 hours, then you are good to go (pun intended).

    Handy Items
    •Grabber/picker – preferably 36” long. Perhaps one in bedroom and one in living room. $10-$25
    • Long handled shoe horn. $5
    • Grabber-like thing to pull on socks with, or think about wearing flip flops or open-backed shoes.
    • Pill Organizer or notepad to keep track of what you need to take when and to make notations of when you take your meds.
    • Bedtray
    • Bell, cell phone or walkie talkies to contact caregivers
    • Microwaveable hot packs –great for aching shoulders, etc.
    • Satin sheets for easy sliding in and of bed. Or satin PJ's.
    • "Turning sheet" strip of heavy fabric that you put under you so that you can have a signficant other pull to turn you over as needed, particularly good for those first few days.
    • Cold packs in freezer prior to surgery
    • Phone near the bed. Get a wireless or wireless adapter from Radio Shack o Cellphone and charger o Blackberry, Treo and chargers
    • IPod, headphones, charger o Update your playlists
    • Books, magazines, audio books, crosswords, Sudoku o Booklight
    • Extra batteries for remotes
    • Remote controls for TV, DVD, etc.
    • Plastic containers to hold and organize items you will use while confined to bed. Also to use after mouthwash or for small trash. o Put all the reading materials, crosswords, pencils, etc. in one. Put personal cleansing items in another.
    • Small, lightweight pitcher for water next to bed
    • Paper towels near bed
    • Small wash basin near bed
    • Small bucket for nausea next to bed
    • Small garbage bags nearby
    • Towel that lies flat on the bed beside you. Put items you may use on top then just pull the towel toward you to retrieve items you can’t reach.
    • Extra pillows to help with comfortable positions
    • Additional sheets, blankets, pillows near recliner, sofa, chair in living room
    • Wheelchair, if necessary
    • Recliner, if possible. Some find recliners work, others don't - they can be hard to get out of.
    • Think about placing every day items at waist height even if it means storing on counters.
    • Pedometer for post-op walking program

    • Slip on shoes o Croc shoes with the open back. They are ugly but they are easy to get on, provide great traction, comfortable to wear and were recommended by the hospital.
    • Slippers - not too loose with good soles
    • Soft socks – NAP socks from Brookstone are awesome & keep your feet warm at night. $20/3 pairs
    • Bathrobe
    • Pull on pants – make them a size larger so they don’t bother your incision(s); check elastic so it’s not too tight.
    • Front buttoned shirts or zipper tops for trips to PT and doctor
    • Jogging suits
    • Sweat pants
    • Yoga pants
    • Front button pajamas – numerous sets
    • Camisoles or tee shirts to wear under brace, preferably cotton so it breathes. Ladies -try the ones with the bra built in.

    Comfort Items
    • Lots of pillows, body, small, wedge, cervical, etc.
    • 3" memory foam mattress topper pad $100 approx.
    • Pressure mattress or pads
    • Have plenty of sheets, pillowcases, blankets, washcloths and towels ready for use. o Have sheets, blankets, pillows near a favorite recliner or sofa
    • If you are planning on much reading or computer (laptop) work post-op, consider a stand that adjusts in position and height like a hospital bed tray –Brookstone. $150; There are less expensive ones around $60-70. Make sure they fit under your favorite chair.
    • Linen spray to freshen sheets and pillow cases. Use lavender scent to relax and help with sleep.

    To Do Prior To Surgery
    • Shave, wax, pedicure, manicure, etc. right before surgery. If you have fake nails, think about removing since they may fall off due to anesthesia
    • Hair cut
    • Dentist
    • OB-GYN
    • Update prescription glasses, both reading and regular if you wear contacts since you won’t be wearing contacts much in the hospital or after surgery
    • Give all doctor names and numbers to caregiver(s) as well as next to your bed
    • Put together phone numbers of all concerned family members and friends on one sheet
    • Check with your doctor for handicap sticker
    • All grooming/personal supplies waist high to avoid reaching/bending
    • Organize essential items at home to be within reach, e.g. telephone, shoes, etc.
    • Arrange for care - someone to be with you for most of the first week post-discharge
    • Make sure you give your surgeon a list of your regular medications including the dosage amount.
    • Give blood prior to surgery and/or family members
    • Checks made out for bills, stamped envelopes ready or online payments done in advance
    • Have some cash handy for family members to run errands.
    • Pet care arranged
    • Car keys and house keys given to appropriate caregivers

    Boredom Relievers
    • Laptop
    • Magazines, books
    • Audio books
    • Crosswords
    • Sudoku
    • IPod (updated with playlists for recovery)
    • Nintendo
    • DVDs o Order prior to surgery if belong to Netflix or other service

    Take to Hospital
    (check with hospital in case you receive items during stay)
    • Button up pajamas
    • Back Scratcher, cheap bamboo - invaluable!
    • Bathrobe to cover up if use a Johnny
    • Hairbrush/Comb
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Mouthwash
    • Facial wipes
    • Body wipes
    • Hand Cream
    • Facial Cream
    • Lip Balm
    • Lavender linen spray or Febreze
    • For long hair, elastic bands to tie back
    • Loose clothing to come home in o Underwear o Front button top o Socks o Comfortable, safe shoes
    • Magazine, crosswords, notepad, pencil
    • Glasses
    • Laptop, if you want - a lot of hospitals have wireless access in the rooms

    On the day you come home:

    Make sure you put a plastic trash bag on the car seat for easy sliding in and out of the vehicle. Pillows and a careful, slow driver are also great suggestions!

    This list was originally compiled by Jujybean. Kinpain sent it to me when I was asking prior to my surgery. Since then I have read suggestions and edited the list accordingly - this list is truly a product of everyone here - THANKS!

    p.s. Obviously, there are so many items here that if you purchased everything, you would need a separate room to put things in, however, I included many items so people can make their own choices. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Thanks in advance and hope this list makes life a little easier for you prior to surgery. Best of luck
  • TigerhornTTigerhorn Posts: 5
    edited 03/09/2014 - 4:58 PM
    Thanks for forwarding this list and for the other tips! I'll be ready, or as ready as I can be.
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 03/10/2014 - 3:17 PM
    That you have a miraculous surgery and quick recovery
  • Jonny ZeroJonny Zero Posts: 69
    edited 03/15/2014 - 11:33 AM
    - CONTOUR pillow - A MUST!
    - PHONE APP for calories as you will not be active for a while after the surgery ("fatsecret" for BB or "MyFitnessPal" for Iphone) - I've managed to actually lose weight lounging around these last 2 months.

    Wishing you a successful surgery and an easy as possible, speedy recovery!
    4 Level (C5-T2) Posterior Instrumented Fusion w/ Decompression (Car Accident in January 2014)
    And I can't forget that I'm not ashamed, to be the person that I am today.
  • TigerhornTTigerhorn Posts: 5
    edited 03/15/2014 - 2:46 AM
    Thanks, and thanks again! Yes, I have a contour pillow, though I'm not sure if I should position it as designed (wider side at neck / narrower side at head) or flipped around while wearing this brace. I stress myself out every time I lay down in bed or get up from bed, as I'm concerned about causing a problem. The surgeon said the brace will protect from this, so I guess I just must be cautious and trust that this is the case.

    Discharge nurse didn't mention that one option is to sleep on side with knees slightly bent. Just caught up to that in discharge instruction details. Will have to try that tonight or next nap.

  • Jonny ZeroJonny Zero Posts: 69
    edited 03/16/2014 - 5:50 AM
    Hopefully the pain level isn't too too high. Welcome back! Just keep your head out of your you know what and keep focused on the recovery aspect. Well wishes!
    4 Level (C5-T2) Posterior Instrumented Fusion w/ Decompression (Car Accident in January 2014)
    And I can't forget that I'm not ashamed, to be the person that I am today.
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 03/15/2014 - 4:06 PM
    Was the most comfortable for me in the beginning. I remember I had no pillow under my head and a big pillow under my knees. I actually got a big wedge pillow but never felt comfortable with that except under my knees. Getting out of bed was kind of scary. I would roll on my side and then slide my feet down to the floor and kind of roll out of bed because I was afraid of sitting up first the normal way of getting out of bed. All I could imagine was how weak my neck felt and how heavy my head was. I remember how happy I was to finally feel comfortable sleeping on my side. I still have problems sleeping on my side because of the nerve pain in my arm, but I sleep with a pillow to support my arm and one for my knee.
    Hope you quickly find what is most comfortable for you.
  • at a time. Thanks to both!
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