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C6/7 ACDF - My Pre and post Surgery Journey Part 2

RichardARRichardA Posts: 149
edited 09/21/2015 - 9:59 AM in Recovering from Surgery
C6/7 ACDF 18th April 2015 after 8 years of mucking around pretending it was something else...


  • Hey everyone,

    I'm 20 weeks out of surgery from a C6/7 ACDF (18th April 2015) and am here to share what it has been like over the last 20 weeks. Reason? So those about to go into surgery can benefit from what we have learned and can share about recovering when they squeeze you the other side of the surgery! I wanted to share my ups and downs over the last 20 weeks with everyone so that others can realise they are not alone with this surgery, and in fact there is a HUGE! crew of support just waiting for you on this thread....from people who have gone through pretty much exactly what you are going through, or about to go through.

    Your recovery does not have to be done in solitary!

    A whole bunch of us tapped into Part 1 of the thread (simply called C6/7 ACDF - My Pre and Post Surgery Journey") - but it was getting too big unless you were in it from the get go....so Part 2 is now up and running for us to continue the sharing!!! I guess you could say my first 20 weeks of recovery is stuffed into 482 posts elsewhere!

    What is 20 weeks like?

    Scary....I feel so normal that I feel capable of more than I know I am capable of....dangerous times. This is where, for me anyways, I could do something to my neck again because I pushed it too hard and wasn't ready. You really just have to sneak up on your fitness recovery with this surgery. Its a case of two steps forwards one step back sometimes! I have stopped running (I started a couple weeks ago). Whilst I feel good about it (I love running!) and didn't have any issues with my neck, I just felt that I needed to take stock of where I "really" am - and got spooked by my wife telling me that the NS said no running for 6 months at least. I'm paranoid of stuffing it up.....and I'm not an overly cautious type of person at the best of times!!!

    So its back to walking 4 miles every second day (I did this every day for 7 weeks after the first week out from my surgery and it got to be a nice habit) with a light 30 minute cardio session in between days to keep fit.....and seems to be working. The way I am looking at is as soon as my doc says im fused and good to go running again....I'll be back into it...and am keeping this as my little treat to myself for my 6 months (or however long it takes to fuse!) check up and clearance!!!!

    Check in again in a few days.

    Love to all.

    C6/7 ACDF 18th April 2015 after 8 years of mucking around pretending it was something else...
  • Wow, can't believe all of us made this thread sooooo cool! Thanks Richard for creating this awesome thread and your dedication to share your ups and downs with us.

    Almost like Richard, I am 21 weeks out from my ACDF 2 level C5 and C6 surgery, I am very lucky, doing much better than I thought I would be. Most days I don't feel like I had a major surgery and the scar is barely visible. my lifting limited is up to 40 pounds now, done with Physical Therapy and looking for a gym to join to continue to work on my bicep and shoulder muscle, and get my lazy body back in shape too, I developed high blood pressure prior to the surgery and I am trying to exercise more and get that under control.

  • Wow it seems so long ago doesn't it pal?! I am so pleased that your strength has come back / is coming back - they say that it returns reasonably swiftly - my tricep is still feeling it though!

    There are some times when I do resistance exercises where I have some weight in my left hand and my left tricep just "caves in" - weird feeling still although is slowly getting better.

    Keep hanging in there Kenny - resistance training with bands or dumbbells is the way to go !!! My only concern is trying to do too much too soon. Like you I feel so well and capable I need to constantly "check in" with myself and underdo what I want....

    Take care and great to hear from you pal.

    C6/7 ACDF 18th April 2015 after 8 years of mucking around pretending it was something else...
  • jamesgirllljjamesgirlll Posts: 115
    edited 09/02/2015 - 1:24 PM
    Had cervical fusion almost four weeks ago. Still wearing my hard collar except to sleep. Don't really know what inn supposed to be doing except I know no bending, twisting. Lifting. I've been driving since my second week but only a half mile to take husband to and from the bus stop. He is legally blind and can't drive himself and couldn't miss anymore work.

    I think it's a bad idea to be driving even that short distance since I have limited vision since I can't turn my head and read not to turn my body.

    I saw my doctor today for my three week follow up and didn't get any answers as I was only seen for about three minutes. He did test my sensation and reflexes and wrote me a script for aquatic therapy.

    I'm still in quite a lot of pain and use my ice machine loaned to me by the surgery center every day. I have to return it by Thursday.

    I was told no dishes, laundry bending. Pushing a mop for 6 weeks and I tend to heal slower than other people.

    I will probably stay my aquatic therapy in two weeks because I can't drive that far yet but I think I can stop wearing the collar this Thursday.

    I signed up as jamesgirlll but it says my name is Classy27. I don't know why. Don't understand the forum yet.

    I had anterior cervical dusectomy with fusion of the C5/6 through C7 level s.

    Just call me Jg.

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  • Jason WJJason W Posts: 23
    edited 09/01/2015 - 10:05 PM
    Hello everyone, I stumbled on to this site a few weeks ago when researching about ACDF sugery that was recommended by my GP and Neurosurgeon and yesterday found this thread (part 1) that I have now read from start to finish......wow what a journey for you all!

    I wanted to let you know how inspirational you all are for sharing your experience as it's easy to find discussions around all the negatives but much harder to find a group like yourself sharing the highs and lows and supporting one another through each of your journey's.

    I'm obviously very late to the party and not sure whether I can chime in or even fit in this thread as many of you seem to have suffered for years with your pain and are also in post recovery mode, however I just found your positive energies hard to resist so joined overnight and now writing my first post :)

    My apologies in advance for the length of this post but maybe the detail will help someone like me that’s also looking for support......so now little (or a lot) about how I landed here.....

    I'm a 46y/o husband and father of three girls (10,19,23) from Melbourne who woke up one morning some 12 weeks ago with a sore neck but more excruciating pain in my right shoulder and shoulder blade that radiated down my arm into the elbow/forearm. As you do, I put it down to nothing more than a bad night 'sleeping on my neck' but after four days of intense pain that was not subsiding, my wife insisted I head off to our Chiropractor for a consultation. He suspected a bulged disc was pushing down on the nerve roots and sent me off for an x-ray which confirmed that as well as a narrowed disc cavity at C5/6.

    Over the next week, I had 3 sessions of 1hr massage from a myotherapist at the practice, followed by the Chiro performing his traction work. There was minimal improvement so I headed to my GP who recommended an MRI to get a more accurate idea of what was going on. The MRI was clear that I not only had the disc bulge and degeneration of the disc cavity but also the formation of an osteophyte (bone spur) which was explained to me as a 'complexity' in trying to treat the condition.

    My GP recommended continuing with conservative treatment and also prescribed a course of Cortisone tablets along with a referral to a neurosurgeon that I could call after the 6 week period if there was no improvement. The theory was that the cortisone would reduce inflammation whilst the Chiro/Massage combination would try and 'mobilise' the joint at C5/6 in the hope the disc would return to it's normal position, as such relieving the compressed nerve root which was the source of my severe pain that included aching, sharp shots, tingles, pins and needles, numbness and weakness in varying degrees from the shoulder down to my hands/fingers. Surprisingly, the neck was sore however very mild in comparison to how I was feeling all down my right arm.

    It was not the first time I'd heard the word "osteophyte' as I'd been diagnosed with one at T11/12 in the thoracic area in my back (apparently rare, lucky me!) around 2009 after an MRI to discover why I was getting so much pain, including muscle spasms around that region. The treatment for that included massage/physio/chiro/dry needling/core strength exercises, none of which had any significant impact apart from temporary relief in the days after a treatment. There was no surgery option as it was too invasive and risky so therefore I basically managed this condition until earlier this year when my GP prescribed a medication called Lyrica to try and ease my daily symptoms. It ended up a great decision as for the first time in years that I wasn't living with constant pain tweaks/twinges in my back every day. Sorry, I know I've gone a little off topic but the Lyrica's important to explain as it’s a type of analgesic specifically for nerve pain and as such, my GP had advised to double my normal dosage as it could assist with the pain management of my new disc issues at C5/6, which I subsequently did.

    At 6 weeks there was a little improvement, however I was still in a lot of pain so decided to see the neurosurgeon for an opinion. He said it was very clear that the osteophyte was having a major impact which he showed my wife and me on the MRI as a narrowing on the spinal cord cavity adjacent to C5/6. He recommended continuing with the conservative treatment (2-3 sessions p/w) until the 12 week mark at which time we could reassess. He explained the surgery option in detail and also said that the longer it is left, the more chance of permanent damage to the nerve and therefore ongoing issues which is the underlying message I've seen across this forum from those in similar positions. He also advised if the symptoms worsen then I was to see him earlier.

    From there I continued for a couple of weeks with more massage/dry needling/chiro without any further improvement then I'd had during the first week or so of treatment. It was that point, I thought I should go off my Lyrica to see whether the increased dosage was perhaps masking where I was really at. So at 8 weeks, I stopped and found within a couple of days my suspicion was right on the money - the pain increased significantly and I also started to feel it now in my left shoulder & left elbow/forearm, although to a lesser degree. This concerned me greatly however I continued for another 2 weeks of my conservative approach until the aching, shooting pain, pins and needles had worsened to the point I returned to the Neurosurgeon at around the 10 week mark.

    Essentially it was the same discussion as the first consultation, however he said that pain now in the left side was a definite sign that it's worsening and not heading in the direction it should for a natural recovery. I was given the option of surgery again or to keep trying the conservative approach. I'm confident he’s the right specialist as he comes highly recommended from my GP who has known me for 25 years and I trust his judgement and also that he has not been ‘trigger happy’ to get me into surgery fast. His professional opinion was that if you don’t see improvement after 3 months of conservative treatment then it's unlikely to improve without the intervention of surgery. He advised that I should look at no longer than 1-2 months more if I continued down the current path.

    I decided at this point that if I wanted a different result then it was time to try a different course of treatment, so out went the unsuccessful Chiro/Myotherapy sessions and in came a highly recommended Physiotherapist. My symptoms were worsening so after 10 weeks it just made sense for me to try something I hadn’t before.

    The Physio completed his assessment on all of the above as well as analysing the MRI and concluded that he was 80% sure he COULD NOT help me avoid surgery. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear but I would rather have an honest and frank professional opinion rather than being led down a path of hollow promises.

    Fast forward to today and following a number of Physio treatments, the pain levels have only intensified particularly around my neck area over the last two weeks so it’s time to stop avoiding the inevitable – today I called my surgeon’s office and booked in my ACDF for C5/6 on Friday 18th September.

    So that’s all about me.......

    I'm scared, anxious and nervous but felt compelled to share my experience as your stories have helped me come to terms with what’s been going on with my body over the last 3 months and also given me the courage to accept that this is the right step for me to take.

    You also inspired me to share my story as my experience might be able to help someone else just as you have all for me.
    I’d like to reach out and continue to share my journey via this thread, however understand if you feel it’s better to start a new one.

    WOW....that reads like a novel!! Sorry for the long read but thanks for listening :)



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  • Hey Jason,

    Fantastic read there! I have found the people on this thread just the most beautiful people I have never met, so if you want support through the 18th (and before and beyond!) - this group is right there for you. We are just pleased that we can help people any way we can - and nervousness and anxiety is OK!!! I don't think any of us thought it would be a good idea to get a stranger to undertake some carpentry on us just below our head! We were all in the same boat and we "get you".

    Most of our group are USA or UK (apologies for any countries missed!) - I am from Melbourne however (Point Cook) - so if you need a hand give me a bell mate and I'll help you in whatever way I can. Our thread grew so big and so many people have tapped into it - beyond our wildest expectations, but you are right - we just wanted to share our journeys and sometimes we used this thread to vent and other times to allow us to be vulnerable with people we trusted because they were going through similar issues. Any questions you have just shoot 'em out there!

    So keep plugged in mate! We are thinking of you for the 18th and glad to have you with us - sooner than you think you will be squeezed out the other side of the Aussie hospital system and we will be there waiting for you then too!

    C6/7 ACDF 18th April 2015 after 8 years of mucking around pretending it was something else...
  • RichardARRichardA Posts: 149
    edited 09/01/2015 - 11:29 PM
    I think you won the longest individual post so far on this forum and probably every other [edit] forum that's on the internet!
    C6/7 ACDF 18th April 2015 after 8 years of mucking around pretending it was something else...
  • Jason WJJason W Posts: 23
    edited 09/02/2015 - 1:01 AM
    Hahahaha lol I did apologise in advance so thanks for taking the time to finish it :)

    I did see you're from Melbourne too so happy to see another local but really I got so much out of reading everyones stories here, just fantastic to see people from all over the world supporting each other....should be more of it!

    I live in The Basin at the foothills of the Dandenongs so we're at opposite ends of Melbourne but hey, feels like we're on the same side now.

    Really appreciate your posts & thanks for your warm welcome.



  • And welcome to Part 2. Well I am 11 weeks post op now. I think one of the worst parts for me was my anxiety in my own head. Not that it is not justified. This is spinal surgery people. So Jason, as Rich has said, we totally get you. I honestly don't think I would have done as well without this group. Each one has done so much to help me be brave.

    I have been dining relatively well and feel almost normal on most days. I feel like I could probably do more than what I'm doing. I don't have a lot of pain but I have a little and still have some tingles. They aren'y bad, it's just that I wonder, is this an ok pain or a not ok pain ( like my screws are coming out.)

    About 3 weeks ago I got the worst hacking cough. I don't know why. I don't feel sick, I have never had bad allergies but I worry that maybe I am aspirating at night ( there goes my head again.) My cough has been bad enough that I have worried about coughing my screws out but what can you do other than hope for the best?

    Dear husband (dh) says I snore now ( never did before.) I can swallow pretty good now unless it is something really dry like a pill. Also my voice is a little different and sadly, I cannot sing anymore and I used to be pretty good at that. Maybe it will come back but if it does.t, I am pretty sure the surgery saved me from paralysis and I feel much better that I did before I had it.

    I have gone back to work and that is a good thing. What I really want to do is things normal people do. I want to run. I want to go to the gym. I want to dance. I want to ride my motorcycle. I want to ski. I am going too Disney world next month and I want to ride a roller coaster.Up to this point, I am only allowed to walk.

    I go to the NS today. First I will get an x-ray to see if I am growing new bone. (NS said after my sure that I had thin brittle bones which surprised me because I am super active.) Any way, I am now 11 weeks out so I hope, hope, hope....I'm so very thankful for how well I have done but what I really want is for NS to say today (insert thick middle eastern accent here) "Well done! You can now do what ever you want!"

    THANK YOU!!!!!! Rich, Kenny, Adela, Trem, and everyone else who have held me up when my head was getting the best of me. I could not have done this without you.

  • Wow, thread part 2..... How cool is that! Well, I think I am slowly turning a corner. I have had 13 sessions of PT. My therapist hasn't been able to be as aggressive with my therapy as he would like, because my body tends to over react as a way of guarding or protecting me, since my neck was messed up for almost two years, it is something it learned to do to protect me. But it has made PT very tough for me. There have been many times I get flared up so bad afterwards, I feel I will never be normal again. But as of last week I think I have slowly turned a corner. Monday I walked 2 miles, Tuesday I jogged and walked 2.2 miles and felt fine. He wants me to start swimming. So I will do that soon. Yesterday my Up Band registered over 10,000 steps for the first time in a year!!! Look at me move!
    My biggest issue right now is my rear delts and scapulae. I was totally unaware of how much they have atrophied from the pinched nerve I had for almost 2 years. The doctors kept looking for atrophy in my arms (biceps and triceps) and never checked my shoulders. So now in PT, he has me doing arm raises while lying facedown and I can barely do 8 reps with no weights. It's shocking to me. This has caused a lot of pain in my shoulders as they are trying to wake up.
    I see my NS on 9/22/15 and will ask him about tapering completely off the pain meds as I still tend to need one every other day. Some days when I am very busy, driving a lot, chores, and cooking, my neck starts to hurt pretty bad in the evening so I still take a Percocet to alleviate the pain to allow me to sleep.
    I still have at least 1 day a week, sometimes 2 where I have horrible insomnia, where I am awake for several hours in the middle of the night. I get so achey and restless I can't sleep. Hopefully that goes away soon.
    My voice out of the blue, will sound like I have a frog in my throat. I guess it's all part of the process. I find speaking loudly like when in a crowded room is difficult. My voice cracks.
    Over all I feel I am slowly improving. My stamina is still on the lower end. By 4:00 I find myself plopped on the sofa and shutting my eyes for 20 mins or so. I never in my life had to do that before.
    I am hopeful that at my September appointment I will see some fusion.
    I am so happy to see and hear how well Ivy, Rich and Kenny are doing. Anyone heard from Trem?
    I have been texting Shelley and checking in on her daily. She's doing amazing.
    Jason, I am glad you found our group. You're in good hands and we are here to listen and support. We will all be thinking of you and sending you our love and healing energy on September 18th.

    Just a reminder to those on the other side already:
    1) take it easy, don't try to be a super hero and walk 4 miles right after surgery if you never walked four miles before (just because Rich could do it, doesn't mean you can).
    2) don't compare your recovery to others. It's okay to recover more slowly. It's ok to still need pain meds or muscle relaxers at 4 months. Everyone's story is different. Everyone's original injury is different. Don't try to taper off your meds because you read someone on the thread was able to taper off at one week.
    3) be careful. My recovery was going great, had gotten off pain meds at 2 weeks then at 2.5 weeks I tripped on the hose in my back yard and jostled myself and ouch. I also took too long a shower at 2 weeks and my incision got too wet and reopened itself. So people, take it easy. You only have one chance to heal. These two things happening to me so soon after surgery really caused a downward spiral in my recovery. Don't let the same happen to you.

    Well, I have PT in a couple hours. My life revolves around PT...again. Three times a week and my therapist said he was going to ask my NS for another Rx to continue our work. So I will be a busy girl with that for at least another month.

    Hugs to all of you. I think of you often. Keep up the good work in recovery.
  • Since this forum is read by so many lurkers I'll chime in with my story :-)
    I'm a F/T working mom of 2 young boys and I'm 15 weeks post op today and I feel like a brand new person :-) My neck (and all pain that goes with it) is about 90% better. I do not take pain meds anymore unless I do something that hurts. Mostly rough housing with my 6 and 2 year old boys (or husband LOL). On average I might take a muscle relaxer and pain med once a week, if that. I opted out of physical therapy and have most all of my range of motion back except leaning my head way back. I don't know if that position will ever be comfortable after something like this. I am still subconsciously a "body turner" though but it's not necessary. However, I do still have a lot of anxiety such as worrying about a car accident, someone falling on my head (like at the zero entry pool), getting into a physical altercation, being suddenly jolted, etc. Also, sleeping wrong, sudden movements, etc. are ways to make me feel a bit tender, if not in pain. My next x-ray is in October :-) I no longer see my Neurosurgeon, just go for an x-ray. Unless I "need" to, of course.

    All in all this was the best decision of my life. This forum and the people in it has helped me tremendously and I'm very thankful. I'm glad to see all the summer ACDF alumni folks doing well :)
    ACDF C6/C7 on 05/20/15
    ...and it was the best decision of my life :-)
  • So here I am at 11 weeks, feeling pretty good most days. I went to NS today and was so very anxious. I thought I might jump out of the window if I got bad news. But I didn't. My hardware is where it is supposed to be in spite of my cough and NS declared that he saw new bone growth. I have been cleared to be normal again ( not that I ever was in the first place!) I think this news has done so much for me. I am still coughing but not as bad. My voice, like yours Adele still cuts out and I cannot sing anymore (although maybe it will come back, who knows?) I was cleared to go to the gym so I went to a spin class. That used to be so easy for me but I am super weak. Shocking how weak my arms have gotten. For some reason, insomnia seems to plague us all but it felt really wonderful to be sweaty and tired finally in a good way. I think I may sleep really well tonight.

    NS cautioned not to do things that turn my head sharply. Since he knows how I am, he repeated himself. " I mean what I say. Don't do wrestling or things like wrestling or you are going to be in pain again.

    Sigh.......thanks so much dear friends for helping me through this.

  • Thanks Rich, Ivy & Adela for your positive encouragement and welcome Denise and great to hear things are going well for you.

    Sounds like everyone has their ups and downs along the post surgery path and thanks again for sharing as it helps to prepare for my own journey.

    Yesterday I felt almost relieved to make the call to book my operation in but today the anxiety returned which I guess it's all part of the personal mind games everyone faces leading up to their surgery. Before finding this thread I was pretty downcast about it all but now when I get these negative thoughts I think straight back to your posts and draw the positive inspiration I need to lift my spirits.

    .....and Rich, my excuse for the loooongggg post is that I was playing catch up.......remember you're all about 500 posts ahead!!!!


    I know it gets hard some days but stay strong and keep your positive mindset going as it's infectious on all of us and will hold you in good stead for any challenges that still lay ahead.


  • I am amazed at how well I am doing. Adela has been a godsend!!! I am excited each day I can add a new food to my repertoire. LOL. I am now eating small bits of watermelon, cheesecake and broccoli cheese soup too. I started off with jello, pudding, applesauce, ice cream, popsicles. And the first night, after the day of the surgery, I was able to eat chicken and pasta. I was surprised. The next night I had chicken alfredo with the chicken in tiny bites and did great. I had a little trouble with baked ziti but got it down.

    I have been amazed at my voice right from the beginning except in the recovery room where it wasn't too strong. But I felt like they pushed me out the door to home WAY TOO FAST.

    I am not sure when or if I am to wear my collar. My NS said I would not need a collar after the surgery but said I might want to wear my miami j collar home after surgery. So I have a soft collar and wear it when I go out, if nothing else to cover the incision site which I cover first with a scarf, then the collar. My 1st appointment is September 8, I am sure I will have a lot confirmed at that time.

    Its amazing that friends have called and want to come visit but I am really not up to it. My sister sends out a daily update and that seems to keep them at bay. I thought I was doing well to call my mom and dad. At 85 and 88 they worry and I wanted to relieve their worries. My daughter came with 2 grandkids (ages 9 and 12) on Monday (surgery on Friday) and I really enjoyed seeing them but when they left, I was tired.

    On Tuesday I developed a vision issue (its a disturbance in about 15% of my left eye). I called my neurosurgeon at 8pm and he said it had nothing to do with the surgery (I still can't believe it was out-patient surgery) and that it is probably migraine or medication related. As luck would have it, my neurologist is at a conference. His office is getting me in to see a migraine specialist this morning at 8:00 so I hope this is an easy fix.

    I was wondering yesterday if the muscle relaxers help with swallowing. I backed off on the muscle relaxer and Percocet yesterday as I wondered if they were affecting my eye. But then I didn't seem to swallow as well.

    Interestingly, thru this I have taken my migraine medication every few days (with neurosurgeon's approval) and it helps me sleep so much better than the Percoset or Vicodan. These two painkillers make me restless at night and toss and turn.

    My activities yesterday were - made pudding and made jello, had two naps. LOL How is that for activity? I had planned to be out walking but until the eye issue is resolved, I don't want to do anything strenuous without a doctor OK.

    Welcome Jason. As you can see, there is a wealth of information on this thread. To the others, thank you for allowing me to join you on your journey. While on painkillers, its not easy for me to find Part 2. LOL

    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • Ivy that's great news! I remember getting the cautious "green light" and it felt amazing!
    Jason, has your surgery been scheduled? Right up to being wheeled to the OR, I still had self doubt.
    Shelly, I think your activities sound pretty good :-D Hang in there, better days are to come.

    My little scar is all healed up and no longer tender. I can wear necklaces that hover it as well as T-shirts again :-) I've grown to love my perfect little imperfection because it changed my life forever <3

    ACDF C6/C7 on 05/20/15
    ...and it was the best decision of my life :-)
  • ShelleyazSShelleyaz Posts: 63
    edited 09/03/2015 - 8:37 PM
    I saw three doctors today-
    8:00 neurologist
    10:30 neurosurgeon
    12:30 optometrist

    The latter two appointments were made after seeing the neurologist. I was surprised they could fit me into their schedules today.

    The neurologist thought my visual problem was probably a migraine with just an aura which I never had before. But he wanted my optometrist to confirm no retinal tear and wanted the neurosurgeon to check my incision which appeared swollen, as well as change my medication. I have been on the lowest dose of Percocet and I take one half pill every three hours as needed. But I hate the Percocet because I cannot get a good nights sleep with it. I have tried Vicadin which is what the neurosurgeon wanted me on, but that is even worse for me at night. I felt that this neurologist finally heard what I was saying. His point was I am getting migraines because I am very much fatigued.

    When I saw the neurosurgeon he said that I looked really good and my incision looked fine. He seemed to indicate that I was doing better then most patients at the same stage. I was supposed to have my follow-up appointment September 8. That is now canceled. He wants me to begin a walking regimen and return in 30 days. He expects me to start out walking 5 to 10 minutes a day and by the time I see him again I should be walking one hour a day. Thank goodness the temperatures are coming down to 105°. LOL

    And he does not want me wearing any kind of collar.

    Even though I had a crazy, busy, stressful day today, by the end of the day I felt good. Tired, but no pain. And I can certainly see how it would be very easy to fall into doing way too much and then hurting yourself.
    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • So I start aquatic physical therapy not Labor Day but the next Monday. I will be 5 1/2 weeks.
    Is that too soon? I'm not sure I can even drive that far yet. What should I expect? The first visit is an initial evaluation.
    I want to progress from pool to land exercises. Since I don't have a gym membership or a working pool at

    I'm scared that it will hurt.
    I'm scared of driving there.

    I'm still icing my neck and taking pain meds.

  • Hi Denise, yes my surgery was orginally booked for the 18th however has been rescheduled now for Monday 14th so its just around the corner.

    Im happy with that as the pain has become more intense over the last few weeks. I'm continuing with some Physio treatment until next week. It's not helping physically but mentally I feel better knowing Im trying everything I can right up until the op.

    Thanks Shelley for your welcome too.

    Cheers Jason
  • This question's for everyone here....

    What's the top 3 tips and/or best advice you could give leading up to an ACDF surgery?

    Cheers Jason
  • BlessedMom74BBlessedMom74 Posts: 322
    edited 09/04/2015 - 6:28 AM
    1) ask for a soft collar if you don't already have one. Use it on ride home from the hospital, when out walking, being a passenger in someone's car, at end of day when your neck starts to feel fatigued, etc...
    2) ask for muscle relaxers. Many times more of the post op discomfort and pain is coming from the muscle spasms we get from the surgery. Also, take your meds as directed. It's easier a to keep pain at bay first few days than try to be a hero, have pain spike and then try to get pain to a manageable level. So take as directed.
    3) take it easy. You will be feeling better than you expect and will be tempted to do stuff. DONT! At 2 weeks post op I was feeling great, decided to go into my back yard to water my tomatoes and tripped on the hose, and jostled myself so bad it was a downward spiral of all the post op pain and muscle spasms coming right back again for weeks. So take it easy! I also showered too long and my incision reopened, but that's another story.

    Let people around you do for you and pamper you. You will do great. We will all be thinking of you and sending you happy healing vibes until we see you on the other side.

    Warning: Not all surgeons want to have their patients use a soft collar. Many are opposed to any type of collar. So, if you do discuss this with your doctor, find out their opinion about it, do not ask for the collar, let the medical expert decide.
    Same holds true for muscle relaxers. Some doctors based on their patients do not want to prescribe any type of muscle relaxer.

    -- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator 09/04/15 12:28
  • BlessedMom74BBlessedMom74 Posts: 322
    edited 09/04/2015 - 6:30 AM
    As far as the driving goes, you should be fine. I started driving at 2 weeks post op and I felt fine. Maybe start driving short distances to get comfortable with the driving again and prepare yourself for longer drives.
    As far as PT goes, aquatic will be more gentle on your body as you are less weighted. I do regular PT now and my therapist just added pool exercises and swimming to my repertoire. In general PT may flare you up a bit, so prepare yourself mentally for that. But I believe it is a good thing to do. Don't be scared, it's all just part of the process. Communicate with your therapist. If you're having pain, if something is making you uncomfortable, etc...
    There have been many times when I tell my therapist I am not doing my PT workout after our session because our session caused me so much soreness. Don't be afraid to speak up.

    If your doctor is good about giving you refills on pain meds that is great. I am in my 18th week and my NS told me to not even consider tapering off my pain meds until I was all done with PT. So if possible get a refill. It may hurt, but remember it's all so you can get back to 100%. Focus on that and not the pain.
    I hope I have helped ease your mind. You'll do fine. Let go of the fear. It doesn't serve you at all in this case.

    Warning: Before you attempt to drive, even short distances, your first must get the approval from your doctor
    -- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator 09/04/15
  • Any questions you have, you should call back to your doctor.

    I had my surgery last Friday and feel like I can drive today. Everyone is different. And even if your doctor says yes, if you don't feel comfortable don't do it.
    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • (1)Reading this entire thread and taking notes helped tremendously. It almost over prepared me. I have come out of this surgery amazingly well. Many people said they had a sore throat for 3 weeks, mine is fine now. Someone mentioned (2) using Chloraseptic and I used it every 2 hours. And I had no voice issue and fretted over that the most. (3) prepare yourself to be walking. That seems to be the main therapy and if your doctor recommends it, prepare yourself now, even if that is not something you did in the past. I am not saying do it now, I am just saying prepare your head now for later.

    I am assuming you are married and your wife will do cooking and getting groceries. Since I am the female I made a lot of meals ahead (28), got groceries in, and had the house professionally cleaned.

    Hope this helps.
    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • jamesgirllljjamesgirlll Posts: 115
    edited 09/04/2015 - 9:51 PM
    I'm amazed you feel like driving already. I can drive a half mile but that is about it. Monday morning we are going
    On a practice drive to my husband's work. He is legally blind and I'm the driver in our relationship.
    We've been running our grown son ragged getting groceries and prescriptions.

    Are you already off pain medication? I'm still in a great deal of pain.

    I was initially told I could drive at one week out but my surgeon is used to doing artificial disks not fusion.
    Then I was told two to three weeks but he also told me to wear a hard collar for a month.I had two levels of fusion done 5/6 and 6/7.

    I'm just now feeding comfortable with trying longer distances.

    Thanks for the reply
    Shelleyaz said:
    Any questions you have, you should call back to your doctor.
    I had my surgery last Friday and feel like I can drive today. Everyone is different. And even if your doctor says yes, if you don't feel comfortable don't do it.
  • Hi Jason.

    1. Remember everyone heals at different stages and speed. Don't compare yourself to any of us. you want to be 100% commit to the surgery, and yes. it's scary.
    2. Get your house, your room, your clothes ready, not sure your lift limitation after surgery, but mentally ready to have people help you for the first few weeks.
    3. Recovery is a different animal, a lot of us put a lot of efforts into Pre Op but we were not ready for recovery, it could be easy or a wild ride, BUT it will be boring, borderline a little depress at times, just get yourself ready for it. We all went through it not long ago.

  • My neurologist told me that he believed my neurosurgeon was doing me a trememdous favor by doing this surgery before I really got bad. I fell and had tingling in my hands and feet. Had I not fallen we would have never found the compression and stenosis. I never had neck pain prior to the surgery. Had I not fallen, things would have gotten far worse before the determination was made that I needed an MRI and ultimately surgery.

    They took me off of the lowest dose Percoset on Thursday. Tuesday and Wednesday I had two pills each day and none today.

    We are all different and we all react differently to this surgery. I know I am very blessed.
    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • Thank you everyone for your top tips pre op. Seriously cant explain how thankful I am to you all for sharing with us. Had a really bad week of pain so your help picks me up & makes me really positive towards the op. Thank you.

    Cheers Jason
  • OK, I'm just gonna put it out there, I guess I'm a very vain person. But I'm also concerned about how ugly this incision looks for others when I am out and about. What have others done? My guess is, the men didn't care or they wore collared shirts? OK, women, help me out.
    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • Jason W said:
    Had a really bad week of pain so your help picks me up & makes me really positive towards the op. Thank you.
    Cheers Jason
    My residual pain from the neck (not at the neck but my arm and 1st rib) were getting progressively worse since July 1. I feel none of that now. Its like a miracle. In the US we are to place a number on our pain from 1-10, 1 being the lowest amount of pain. I have been at a 1 for days now. In the last weeks prior to the surgery I used ice a lot. It numbed the immediate pain. My doctor didn't tell to use it, a friend who is a nurse told me.
    C4-C5 ACDF surgery with plating August 28.
    cord compression due to disc-osteophyte complex
  • So glad to see how successful this thread has become!

    Jason - welcome! Although I don't need the ACDF surgery yet, just reading all these positive and supportive posts has calmed my anxiety (relatively speaking :-)) so that if/when I do need it, I'll know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Ivy - great news for you!

    Shelley - glad to hear how well you are doing!

    Wishing all of you continued progress "on the other side" :-)

    C4-5, C5-6, C6-7
    Cervical stenosis & spondylosis with osteophytes
    Foraminal stenosis (right & left)
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