Hi, I'm new here, so I will give a bit about me and my path to here.
I'm a 54 (for now - that seems to change annually) yr old woman with a quirky sense of humor and who has a hard time writing succinctly. So pre-apologies for the novel ;-). I've lived with chronic pain of various sorts (I grew up with "ear" pain that now I think was mostly TMJ, possibly some geniculate neuralgia - not really sure when that started as I assumed it was TMJ.) I was first dx'd with TMJ when I was a teen, back in the 1970s. So over the years, I have learned to tune out a lot, focus on more interesting things, that sort of thing.
I have had shoulder problems for years. I saw a massage therapist who helped a bit - but it always reverted back. (At one point, it was a band of pain between my shoulder blades. So relief from that was a good thing.) But finally, I get referred to the local shoulder clinic - the doc there everyone said was the best. And I had impingement, on both sides, and had two acromioplasties done in 2011, one in Jan. and the other in Aug. Kept trying to be patient, but I still had pain, and finally in 2012, they took x-rays and saw calcifications on both sides. Removed the right side, then the left about 9 months later. Healed - only my right side, I never could sleep on. I was told to give it more time.
Fast forward 2 years. Plenty of time, I had a trip to my folks planned, so figured I would call and see if they could figure out what was going on with my shoulder and sleep when I got back. A few days before my trip, I woke up and my shoulder was horrible. All day. And the next. I wasn't going to let it stop my trip, though - it just firmed my resolve to call as soon as I returned.
Got in to see the PA there (she is awesome) in October. (2015) I was 99.9999999 (repeating) % sure they would see calcification again or something. Nope. X-ray was good. They did an MRI with contrast. Showed some minor stuff, nothing that needed taking care of, so they sent me to get trigger point injections.
The doc who did those said he wondered if there was neck involvement. I have always had some pain in the neck - but we had been assuming it was radiating from my shoulder. But he did the injections. They helped a wee little amount. Very little. He sent me back to the shoulder clinic.
Saw the doc, who went over the MRI in person with me. Showed why sleeping is probably a problem (a leaky bursa) and said it is possible I may never be able to sleep on that side. (I, of course, am hoping he is wrong on that score!) I mentioned what the anesthesiologist said about the neck. He said that he is a good diagnostician, and sent me off for an MRI of my neck.
And then referred me to a neurosurgeon. Which kind of scared the crap out of me.
I saw the ns in December. Like him, but he isn't very expansive with explaining. He did say his job was to try to avoid surgery, and sent me to PT, and gave me a prescription for Relafen. (NSAID - strong.) The NSAID did nada, and the physical therapist tried a bit, then told me that he didn't want to keep going, that I wasn't making enough progress, and I should save my money. (I heard the implied "insurance approved sessions", though.) That was discouraging. But I continue to do the exercises he had me start during my time there.
Went back to the ns, who asked me about the pain down my arm (didn't mention the shoulder or neck at all - really not a lot of time at all) , so I showed him where it sometimes is (I am nit or miss), and he asked if I wanted to fix this.
I told him that was why I was there, and that I really wanted to be able to sleep a decent amount most nights. (Currently, it is hit or miss. The neck - and now that I know it isn't from my shoulder, I am more aware of the neck problems/pain - tuning out is a great strategy, unless you need to describe things to a doctor! -has been interfering with my sleep most nights.) So he told me it would take about a half hour and need a night in the hospital, he would have Kristin (in the office) set it up, and was gone. He never even said the word fusion to me. (It was in the paperwork, though, that they sent home with me, a pamphlet on cervical fusion.)
That will be done on February 1.
I am both nervous (hey, screw up there, and you have big problems!) and excited (hey, maybe a solution to all this pain!) and nervous (hey, what if it doesn't really take care of it?)
Reading things here, I am learning a lot about recovery. I never even would have considered a sore throat, for instance. Fortunately, I make good soup, and have some in the freezer already. I'll make some more to fully stock things. Mmm. Winter, I like soup.
But I appreciate all the tips for post-op. I plan on making sure there is some ice cream in the freezer. (I try to eat low carb, so make low-carb version of ice cream. Or lower carb, anyway.)
The pre/post-op lists on the pinned post are interesting - a number of things I wouldn't have thought of, but I recognize that probably not all apply, as people in the site are probably often having things done lower than the neck.
Anyway, I appreciate this site, and want to thank all the people who have posted so much interesting material!