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my possible up comming surgery!

lewllew Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I injured myself at work on July 20 and since have had servere neck and right shoulder pain with numbness tingling, and pain throughout my right arm with the numbness going all the way down to my fingers. I have had pt without any relief and also several meds with the same results. My mri shows that that I need Cervical anterior discectomy and fusion at c5-6, c6-7. The discription of what is going to be done is as follows:

Allograft For Spine
Arthodesis, Cerv, Ant
Arthodesis, Ant/Antr
Anterior Instrumtat
Application of Prost
Diskectomy Anterior
Diskectomy, Anterior
Use of Operating Mic

As you can imagine I'm very scared and worried of having it done and at the same time what will happen if I don't have it done. I have a second opinion this week and will then be forced to make my decision. Can anyone help me? I'm not sure what to expect at all, either during the operation and especially afterwards. What type of pain should I expect afterwards, can I go through this alone, because I live alone with just me and my cat...lol. What should I expect for my recovery time? I was actually told by my LNI claims manager that she expects 6 months and that I should talk to the doctor about assisted living I really need some help in dealing with all this. Any information or personal experience you may have will be appreciated.


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of info on the site and great people on the forums.

    I had a 3-lvl ACDF last year (C4/5, 5/6, 6/7), so I'll help you as much as I can. Your doctor can explain more about what would happen if you don't have surgery, so I'll just post here about the surgery and recovery.

    It's very normal to be scared before you have surgery and although this doesn't help you now, most of us have found that the anticipation is worse than the actual surgery. I was also very scared as I'd never had to stay in a hospital before or had any surgery. My surgeon helped me with the pre-surgery anxiety by prescribing some Xanax. It helped a bit.

    Usually it's only a 24-hour stay in the hospital for an ACDF, unless there are complications and that's rare. It's really great because you should only be in the hospital about an hour or so before the scheduled surgery, then they give you the happy juice and the next thing you know, you're in your room and the surgery is over. During the stay in the hospital after your surgery, you'll be given plenty of pain medications to keep you comfortable. I had a Dilaudid drip that I could press the button every 7 minutes. If you're in pain, be sure to talk to the nurse so she can help get you more comfortable.

    You'll probably also have a pre-surgical appointment at the hospital where they'll check your blood, give you an EMG to be sure your heart is ok, and go over all the procedures, etc.

    The recovery time is variable, depending on the person, but usually help is needed for at least the first week. My MIL stayed with me for the first three weeks, but that was overkill. I could have managed with one week, but two would have been ok too. If you can have someone at least come check on you one or two times a day, that should work if you do some pre-op planning, like stocking up on food and having all the things you need handy.

    I had to wear a hard collar for four weeks and couldn't drive during that time. There is definitely some pain, achyness and tenderness after the surgery, but you'll probably be prescribed some pain medication and muscle relaxants to have at home. The main thing is to stay ahead of the pain for the first week or two because if it gets ahead of you, it's hard to get comfortable again.

    Us neckies swear by having a recliner because it's difficult to sleep in bed after the surgery. The recliner is our best friend.

    Anyway, I don't want to go on and on, but feel free to PM me if you have more questions or want to talk. I'll also check in on this thread. Please be sure to keep us updated and let us know what you're doc says.

  • Well I have finally received a confirmed date of my surgery. If all goes as planned it will be on Dec 1st. As you can imagine after talking to people that have had the same or similar surgery and after reading some of the stories on here I now have the pre-surgery anxiety. I have my pre-surgical appointment at the hospital on Nov. 23rd where I guess they take blood and check my heart rate. I would appreciate any input from anyone on here that can give me a rundown of what to expect. I'm having c5-6, c6-7 ACDF and they are using my bone for the fusion. I look forward to hearing from you.

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  • Hi Lew,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many going through or have gone through what you are. With that being said I understand the pre-surgery jitters as I have been through multiple cervical surgeries.

    I as you used my own hip bone for the surgery. As you I lived alone difference is had a dog(lol). I stayed in the facility for 18 hours following surgery and returned home by myself and did just fine. You will be more comfortable in your own home. Before you leave the facility they will insure that you don't have any issues walking. Walking will become your best friend post-op. I will admit that the hip incisions smarts a bit more than the neck incision. You may want to get yourself or keep something handy to help you get up from a sit position. Before leaving for surgery I had everything laid out so on my return I just had to plop down and everything I needed was right at my finger tips. For example I had a cooler with all my favorite snacks and beverages next to my couch. Just needed someone to ice it up. You may want to also make sure you have paper, pens, throat lozens, phone, computer, books, extra blankets. Pick out what you feel will be the best place for you to rest and arrange it as necessary. You may find a bed wedge of assistance as well. Of course clothing wise button ups will work easier. You may also want to invest in a shower chair, I used one of the outside resin chairs. Since your alone put your food and milk in lighter smaller containers. You may want to invest in some healthy mircowavable food or pre-cook some things up front as well. I also suggest that you get a pill box to lay the pills out in so there is no question wether you took or not.

    The best way I planned for surgery was to take everything I was doing pre-surgery and anything I was using in a days time and thought how will i need or do that post surgery? You may also want to stock up on somethings as not sure how long you will not be driving. Then of course always have a friend or someone on back up just in case you need something. If I can be of anymore help don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and keep us posted on how surgery goes. Once again welcome to spine-health. If you get bored check out the chat lots of good members chatting away in there to pass the time.
  • I appreciate your comments and advice, I'm slowly starting to stock up on things that I might need. I was told that I will have to wear my neck brace for about 6 weeks which means no driving, however my follow-up with my doctor after my surgery is Dec 9th and depending on how I'm doing maybe it wont be for the whole 6 weeks. what kind of surgery did you have and how are you now? I've read some really bad stories from people having the same surgery as I'm having, and I think that's what has me more worried. I know I will get through the surgery but I'm just concerned of the recovery process and what to expect from it. Thanks again for your advice I really appreciate it.

  • Boy, we can all understand the pre-surgery jitters, like Tamtam said. But it'll be over before you know it and you'll be home and bored to tears.

    The thing about reading stories on these forums, is that most of the members who've had successful surgeries go on with life and don't post here any more because they no longer need the support. They're out riding bikes, golfing, hiking, etc. So don't use the stories on these forums as a guide to what ACDF recovery is usually like.

    Tamtam posted some great things for post-op. Another thing to consider is subscribing to Netflix for your recovery time, getting a hand-held game that you like, puzzle books, etc. I'm an avid reader, but had a hard time concentrating the first week or two due to taking the pain medication. Recovery can get very boring as the only halfway exciting thing to do is walk. When people become bored post-op, they tend to do more than they're supposed to and that just delays the healing and brings on more pain.

    Also, make sure they give you extra pads for your neck brace. The brace can get very hot and you can get sweaty, so it's really nice to be able to change out the pads. You'll want to make sure you have bandages and tape so you can change your dressing when needed. Bendy straws and a grabber tool can be handy items to have around too.

    And don't forget to buy new underwear. All spineys that are about to have surgery must buy new underwear. It's a spiney rule. LOL

    Another thing to think about is, if you get too anxious, let your surgeon know. They might prescribe some antianxiety medication for you to take the week prior to surgery to keep you from getting too uptight.

    So, good luck Lew. I know you'll do just fine. All the tingling, pain and numbness in my arms were gone when I woke up after the surgery, so I hope you experience the same miraculous feeling.

    Take care and don't hesitate to ask more questions if and when they come up. We're here for ya.
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  • Hi Cath111,

    I went shopping today and purchased some new underwear for my surgery day lol so I guess I'm good to go. I really appreciate your reply, you and tamtam both gave me some great pointers. As I'm sure you know everyday it gets closer to Dec 1st reality starts to set in. I even received a phone call today with questions about my medical history and if I have a will or power of attorney. I guess that's just a routine call, but I didn't expect it so it took me by surprise. other then that I'm doing ok, this pain has been going on since July 20th and I just hope this gets rid of it. I have movies, I have cable, I have my computer, I have a hand full of games for my xbox and of course I have my cat, other then that I don't know what I'll do to keep me from going crazy in my apartment for the time I can't drive. I'll just have to deal with it I guess, so If I'm able I will probably be on here a lot in the chat room. I go there now once in awhile and always enjoy it. Well that's all for now take care and thanks again

  • Hi Lew,

    I go in Mon. for the same procedure, acdf C5-7. We can be recovery buddies!

    I have to second about joining chat. The folks that hang out there are about the nicest and most caring people I've come across on the web. Not only that, they're very knowledgeable and compassionate.

    I think I'm starting to be a pest there, LOL, but I love it!

    I'm not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be. I had lumbar fusion L3-5 2 years ago that went very well, and I have positive expectations for this as well. From everything I've read and heard, recovery from this is easier in general than the lumbar fusion.

    Funny - I just got my call with instructions and questions about prior surgeries, advance directives, medical history, and so on.

    So we'll hang together Lew, and encourage each other. The hospital I'm going to has free wi-fi,so hopefully all will go well enough that I can post on Mon. PM. Will even try to check into chat.

    Good luck, Lew, and I'll see you on the better side of health!
  • Hello,

    Good luck with your surgery, I understand your feelings, I went yesterday for my pre-op phy and tests (out of town 160 miles). I am have a plate put in the back of my neck C4-T2 with hip bone grafts and rods due to a front surgery C4-6 that failed 12-8-08. This site has helped my a lot the past year. They said I will be the hospital for 5-6 days and it's the drive home that I am not looking forward to but am working on a plan for that too.
    I am lucky to have a wife and grown kids, grand kids and lots of friends to help.
    I will keep you in my prayers.

  • Hi Rick, it's nice to know that we are not alone in all this, I know for me it has helped me to be able to come here and read the replys to my post, especially like tonight when I'm so tired but still can't sleep. I went back to the hospital today for more pre-op. Today they had to take my blood, I went monday to have it done but they said it was to far away from my surgery date of Dec 1st. I guess compared to what your having done my surgery is not so bad. They plan to only have me stay in the hospital one day unless for some reason they feel I need to stay longer. I really wish you the best of luck and I too will keep you in my prayers. I hope your able to work out something for your long drive home. I'm sure it can't be good for you to be in a car for that long. Keep me up to date when your able to get back on here and have a great thanksgiving.

  • Thanks for responding to my post, I really appreciate it. You seem in great sprirts to be so close to having your surgery, I think that's great. I'm also doing ok, my main concern isn't really the surgery it's more the recovery part. I think I did overkill by reading to many horror stories on here..lol I'm sure I'll be ok. The bordom of staying here in my apartment not being able to drive is what's going to get to me the most. Thank God for internet. I'm sure if I'm able I'm going to be spending lots of time on here and in the chat room, so keep an eye out for me and make sure you say hi. Keep me posted on your surgery, and I will have you in my thoughts and prayers.

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