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Post Op Anxiety

EA1070EEA1070 Posts: 26
edited 09/12/2014 - 12:46 PM in Recovering from Surgery
I went in for a four level (C3-C7) ACDF with iliac crest bone graft on August 22nd. My NS instructed me to wear the Miami Collar when I go out and I spent the first two weeks sleeping on my recliner. I'm trying my bed again and it seems to be ok if I wear the collar.

My issue is this - I've been experiencing a lot of anxiety since my surgery. I'm terrified that I'm going to accidentally hurt myself by moving my head the wrong way. Going out is a miserable experience. The car is uncomfortable, I'm worried about someone hitting our car, and walking any distance is incredibly painful even using a cane. We have my mom's walker and I'm wondering if that would be a better alternative to the cane because the weight is distributed more evenly.

The pain is also odd. It's moving all around. My doctor says it's the nerves regenerating.

I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced anxiety post op.

I've had numerous pelvic surgeries and this is the first time that I've ever been scared afterwards.

Thoughts? Feedback? I'd truly appreciate it.
4 level ACDF, C3-C7 with iliac bone crest graft with hardware on August 22nd.


  • Owie_999OOwie_999 Posts: 176
    edited 09/12/2014 - 3:53 PM
    I think it's natural to have post op anxiety. Don't beat yourself up about it too much.

    I have a daughter with an intellectual disability & I suffered (still do a little bit) anxiety about her pulling on me & doing some damage. She doesn't mean any harm & I'm only now, 4 weeks post op feeling comfortable being left alone to care for her while my husband is at work. I drove for the first time post op yesterday & was really nervous.

    If using your mum's walker makes walking easier go for it.

    We tend to deal with the physical aspects of recovery & forget about our mental health. Take care :)

    Microdiscectomy L5S1 January 2014
    Microdiscectomy L5S1 March 2014
    Fusion L5S1 11th August 2014
  • I think this is pretty common and sometimes reading the boards can make it worse. I had to stop reading them before surgery because some were so negative they really made me anxious. I had a lumbar fusion and am using a walker when outdoors. The only drawback has been it is hard on my neck, shoulders and arms, but I have rheumatoid arthritis and am off my nsaids so that is not too surprising. If you choose to use the walker make sure it is adjusted for your height. My surgery was Aug 21 and yes the car is uncomfortable so I rarely go out in it. When I am in bed I use calming music on my iPod to help myself relax. All the best to you as you recover.
  • mstukofskimmstukofski Posts: 33
    edited 09/14/2014 - 6:11 AM
    post op anxiety for sure I had a panic attack immediately .they called a rapid response. thank God I had a wonderful anesthesiologist. he gave me some good drugs that helped. Please take your medicine like you're supposed to and if you do have anxiety don't be afraid to take medicine at your doctor. That is what it is for.
  • I had a lot of anxiety post-op as well -- I'm about 10 weeks out now and I can tell you it does get better! I'm still nervous in the car and prefer to avoid interstates when I can -- I swear every time I look around me someone is texting and driving or scooting into my lane -- but my surgeon reassured me it'd take a truly catastrophic accident to break or move the hardware. Obviously I don't want to have ANY accident, minor or major, but it does help to know that just bending or stretching at home the wrong way isn't going to ruin the healing process. It will hurt for sure if you do too much or move the wrong way, but I think as long as you are careful and listen to your body's responses you'll be okay! There are lots of new and weird pains and aches you'll feel as the body heals and it's easy to get worked up about them or overthink what they mean. I'm grateful to have the forums to help give me a gut-check on what's "normal" (and also the nurse's line for my surgeon for reassurance when in doubt)! Best of luck -- you've already done the hardest part, you've got it from here! :)
    360 Spinal Fusion (ALIF/PLIF) 7/3/2014
  • so much!!

    I'm relieved to know that the anxiety is normal.

    The post-OP nurse at my NS's office is wonderful, but I didn't address that particular aspect with her.

    I'm finding that everything feels different one day to the next. As I said, I'm no stranger to surgery, but this recovery is unlike any other. Felt great yesterday, actually went to Target with my husband and used one of their scooters. It felt so good to be doing something normal that I also went to the grocery store later on in the afternoon with him, once again using their scooter. But today? Man, I am wiped out I shouldn't have made the second trip out.

    This is definitely a marathon, not a sprint.

    You guys are all awesome. It's comforting to talk to others who understand exactly what I'm going through.
    4 level ACDF, C3-C7 with iliac bone crest graft with hardware on August 22nd.
  • shelly2733sshelly2733 Posts: 6
    edited 09/16/2014 - 4:02 AM
    Hi there! I'm 3 weeks post op ACDF C3 - C7 and I've had some very scary anxiety at points - especially when I stopped taking my pain meds. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I cried about everything! I should have taken more care to wean myself off the pain meds - so please do that for yourself! I think your anxiety is perfectly normal - I feel so weird riding in the car or even going outside at all! But, I have to say that wearing my Aspen collar 24/7 as my doctor instructed has done me a world of good. It's like my little safety blanket. When I change collars to get a shower, I feel strange and scared. I'm not allowed to drive or take my collar off until next week when I see the doctor again and I'm really excited to get back to normal and get this collar off and see what I can do. Walking and getting out of my comfort zone with making my self go outside and making myself get a shower and get cleaned up has done me a world of good! Best of luck to you!
  • I am 10 days post acdf and Almost every day, right after breakfast, I have a good cry about nothing in particular. My mom says its because of all the anesthesia drugs leaving my body but she is just guessing and i don't know. but when it happens it feels like the world is gonna end. then im ok again after a few minutes. once in a while i have an afternoon cry too. weird stuff.
    C5/6 herniation, type 2 diabetes, generalized anxiety disorder
  • I guess you could say I am totally contradictive of all of this. I am approx. 2 weeks post op. I was trying to lead a normal life a few days after I left the hospital minus work and lifting.My life is always on fast forward. I totally see where you are coming from. I had a little bit of anxiety about the post op before I had the surgery though. I worried about a lot of stuff. Granted, I haven't been on the highway yet and that has always been my stressor. I am worried about things after I get the brace off and then going back to work. I find having the brace off physically stressful and my body tends to hurt just changing the pads.
    I am sure the anxiety is completely normal. Surgery tends to change our lives in so many ways both short term and long term. I don't have much words of wisdom but keep your chin up. You will get through this. I'm sure its pretty rare to even have an accident after the surgery that affects it. I've had some really rare and strange things happen to me in my life and so far even I'm doing ok. :)
    Tracie C
  • I am almost 4 weeks post surgery, 2nd op for l4L5 disc herniation. I suppose it's natural to feel some level of anxiety after surgery, the worry about whether it is going to be successful and the frustration of the recovery itself. I too am feeling weepy but as others have said here , it's natural. We have to allow ourselves to heal.
    D x
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