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Need Hope - Recovery from 4-level cervical fusion

swing dancersswing dancer Posts: 6
edited 03/17/2015 - 4:33 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Mother (age 60, not in best of shape) had 4-level cervical fusion (C3-C7) 7 weeks ago. After surgery: lacked motor control & very weak to the point of unable to walk. Still in a skilled nursing/rehabilitation facility full-time. Getting near daily physical therapy. SLOWLY regaining strength, endurance, fine-motor skills, and range of motion; however, it is INCREDIBLY SLOW. Seems to have C5 palsy that prevents her from being able to lift one arm even up to shoulder level. Reports pain in her shoulders. The longer this takes, the less hope and more stress she has. I am concerned about her mental state as her current physical state is WAY worse than pre-surgery. Is this normal for a 60-year old in her shape? Is there hope to recover back to normal or semi-normal state? The surgeon doesn't promise anything. We know he can't, but knowing that it has been done before would be reassuring.

Oddly she didn't have pain pre-surgery. Surgery was to solve hand numbness and coldness (assumed caused by 4 degenerated discs). Didn't have regular pain pre-surgery; although, did have an episode of lightening-like pain down both arms one time. Ortho Surgeon reported during surgery, there was a bleed that took them over an hour to stop and that there were some "signal changes" on the neuro-monitoring system. But they consider the surgery successful.
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Comments

  • Hello,
    First off I am sorry to hear about your mother. I have faith she'll make progress. Before I get started, I want to say some of the things I tell you today will sound cliche, and I know firsthand that can become frustrating. But please try to look past the cliche part.

    First off their is no normal, for ANYONE. All of our bodies handle these surgeries very differently. Often times these types of surgeries exasperate a pre existing condition and or create another issue. Given what you said about your mothers health going into the surgery that may be what is making the situation worse. But having dealt with my grandmother after a major surgery, and myself currently recovering from spine surgery, I will say this with a 100% certainty. If her minds not into recovery she will not! If you see that mentally she is deteriorating, I would recommend seeking out a therapist that deals in chronic pain. They can bring to the table tools that can not only help your mother. But help you as well, as I think it would be good for you to also speak with this person to gain insight into the psyche of someone dealing with chronic pain. Also, make sure the facility and her doctors are aware of this mental decline. They dont know your mother as well as you, and may just assume this is someone going through the recovery process. They dont know her when she feels good.

    Also reading what happen during the surgery I guess it makes sense shes having a tough go in recovery, she had a tough time during surgery. 7 weeks in the grand scheme of things is quite early. So I wouldnt be overly concerned though I get why you are, your mom is experiencing something she didn't pre- surgery and shes depressed. Plus im sure the surgeon telling you everything is "ok" is someone irritating when with your own eyes you see something different. But just try, and I know its hard but try to focus on the fact that your mom had a very traumatic procedure, and its alot for the body to have to deal with, let alone recover from.

    But if you're not happy with the process and are not happy with the doctors, by all means get a second opinion. But again, it is kind of early. Just try now to smoother your mom with love and distractions. Get people to come visit. Get her netflix or a portable dvd player so she can enjoy movies. Does she like books? Bring a bunch, or trashy mags. Also, I know for me after a while though people mean while the question "how are you today", "How are you feeling" gets old. Maybe come to agreement if that bothers her, to just ask her for a number. And that number 1-10 will represent pain and if she gives u that number and wants to talk about it allow her to bring it up.

    I hope this helped,

    Tony

  • Thank you for your comments, Tony. You offer good advice and it has helped to put my mind somewhat more at ease. I see that 3 months post-surgery seems to be a turning point for some people. I am hoping that we see some significant improvement in the next month. Also, one of my greatest concerns is my mother's lack of stability on her feet and walking (now with a walker and assistance). Since the day before surgery, we went for a 3/4 mile walk around the neighborhood and she had no limitations in this area prior to surgery, being so limited in this manner is unsettling. Have others experienced this?
  • I'm younger than she and was in great shape before this diagnosis (I'm 43), and my recovery is also veryyyy slow. I'm 14 weeks out now, and I bet I could walk 3/4 mile (haven't tried yet, I've done around 1/2) but it would wear me out. Some things are a little better, other symptoms have creeped in (arm/hand tremors). I have rechecks with my GP and surgeon today, I'll be asking for a neuro consult to deal with side effects.
    If she had a bleed during surgery, it makes me wonder if it put some compression on the cord, which is going to take time to heal. Unfortunately, that silly spinal cord is a little finicky, and takes a long time to heal. I'm sure that's got to be hard to watch your mom going through this. Good luck!

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • So sorry to hear about your mom but like others have said 7 weeks is not very long. I'm 58 and had a 360 fusion C3 - T1 on April 6. Due to swelling on C5-6 I had no use of my arms after surgery. Like your mom I had no pain prior to surgery - I had the numbing, tingling issues. 10 weeks post I have regained use of my right arm and hopefully within the next 2 weeks full use of my left. I stil struggle with stamina and can also tend to be impatient. I just started back to work last week half days and that has been a struggle. With your mom in a rehab place it is probably the best place for her during her recovery. Just hang in there
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