I know that when I was facing a f level cervical fusion (C3-C7) I was scared to death of the pain, the loss of neck motion, you name it. I live alone and have no one really to help me at home. I went to the hospital at 4 AM in a cab when it s 6 degrees in North Carolina (very cold for here) and went in all by myself, again, very afraid. However, I knew I had to do something, because my stenosis, radiculopathy, and cervical instability were causing numerous numbness, weakness, and pain issues mainly in my hands and shoulders, but also down into my left leg. The point of my message is to tell people that if you are in the hands of a good surgeon, the surgery is minimally painful, and I could feel the benefits immediately after I woke up. I have had a hysterectomy in 1986 and 3 hand surgeries--the pain of this surgery was nowhere near the pain levels of those surgeries. The main pain was simply neck spasms which were well controlled with the medications they gave me.
I am now 7 weeks out. The only thing I regret is that they sent me back to work part time after 4 weeks--that was too soon. Mainly because I had lost my appetite and wasn't eating anywhere near what I should have been. I was much too weak to be driving to work and back, but it is a 27 mile commute. My neck can move almost as much as it could before the surgery--I have no numbness, my muscle tone is coming back, and my neck pain is much less than it was prior to surgery.
This has to be one of the scariest elective surgeries to decide to go through with. I have no idea how well my vertebrae will fuse (my doctor used bone marrow along with a calcium matrix mixed in), but for now, I am happy to have had it. I also have to mention that people at work may not be very sympathetic to what you have gone through. I have had some memory and fatigue problems which are slowly getting better, but people seem to be angry that I am not yet 100% not even 2 months from surgery. I think that they should give you a full 8 weeks of recovery before returning to work due to lack of understanding of employers. I also have had had major voice problems that are getting better, but had a friend get mad at me and tell me to stop talking like that. People can be very impatient and unkind with what they don't understand. Everybody seems to think you should be back at 100% within a few weeks, not understanding the major surgery you just underwent.
So, to summarize--surgery went well--not super painful--hopefully fusion will go well. Don't expect people around you to understand what you just went through. You come in with a relatively small scar (although mine is quite large at about 5") and they seem to think you are at 100%, and you won't be for quite a while. I have had some major fatigue, loss of appetite, and amnesia problems, but I know they are getting better--I just wish people would be a bit more patient with me.
Anyhow, I have full feeling back in my hands and fingers, no more nerve pain, and my neck feels much better. I'd do it again in a hearbeat.