Wanted to update my post-op experience.
Quick Recap: Thought I tore my rotator cuff playing basketball at age 36. Turns out the injury was two herniated discs (C5-7) needing ACDF surgery. Disc injury likely chronic and b-ball injury was the straw that broke my back (or neck as it turns out). Surgery was 6 months post initial symptoms. Significant/extreme pain pre-op and 50% strength loss in left arm, shoulder, and back.
Current Status: 3 months post-op date was last Friday. Had planned on updating this board then, but forgot. What a nice treat to have forgotten when this issue has consumed my life since last spring.
I would rate my overall condition as very good. Most days, I do not have any neck issue at all. All my post-op pain under my right shoulder blade has left. The daily headaches have also gone away (thankfully).
I still have limited ROM looking down and to the right. I also find my neck to be sore and tired late in the day most days. Taking Vicodin for this issue every few days. No other meds needed.
I am taking 1-2 spinning classes per week for cardio. Not doing any other impact cardio. Lifting light weights once per week with nothing overhead. Left side still weaker than right (which is weird since I am a lefty). However most of the strength has returned. I would estimate I am at 85% of pre-injury level.
I am no longer self-conscious of the large neck scar. This is good since it’s nearly impossible to hide. However it is not fading as quickly as I hoped. I also get a lot of questions from random people about it. This is irritating but not sure there is anything I can do about it.
As I move into 2010, I am looking forward to increasing my physical activity. Hoping to play basketball again after 6 months post-op. Will need to dial back intensity and that will be a challenge since I enjoy the physicality of the game. If b-ball doesn’t work, I plan on falling back onto tennis as that is another sport I truly enjoy. Trying to determine the balance between living a fun life and not jeopardizing my future health is tough. Not even my docs can predict, although all of them stay heavily on the conservative side.
I was very scared pre-op about ever being able to return to a normal life. If I never improve from now, I consider myself very lucky. Non-spineys ask how I can feel lucky because they don’t understand how bad it could have been. When I read these boards, my heart cries for those who continue to have daily struggles. The fact that I have healed so quickly makes me appreciate my good fortune.
Best of luck to all. I hope everyone surgeries are a success and everyone heals as best they can.