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Upcoming C5-7 ACDF Surgery

Hello all!
I recently got scheduled for a 2 level ACDF on May 30th and I am so ready to be feeling better. I am 37, with the neck of a 65 year old according to my NS, and I have been active my entire life with the exception of the past 6-9 months when the pain is too bad. I have been living on Norco 7.5 all day long and Zanaflex to sleep at night and I am tired of feeling like I belong on an episode of the "Walking Dead".
I have been through 2 ESI's and weeks of PT, which were both unsuccessful, so we decided to go the route of surgery. My NS said that there on top of the fustion, there are quite a few bone spurs that he will remove while he is in there and that I will feel like I have a new neck when he is done. Good thing, because I am sick of the one that I have! It has been a long road to this point and I really feel like I am sitting around watching my life go by while I am waiting for this to get fixed.
Thank you to everyone that has posted pointers to us newbies... I feel like I am more prepared to go into this now. I have a recliner for sleep and several button up sleep shirts. I just ordered a cervical traction pillow and I am looking for a wedge pillow. Plus, I have arranged for my mom to come stay with me for the first 2 weeks. All of these suggestions from this forum!

Kendra Reeves
ACDF C5-7: 5/30/13


  • Hi Kendra. I know what you mean when you say you feel like you have the neck of a 65 year old. I had a huge rupture at c6-7 and bulging disks at c-4 and c-5. I too have been active my entire life and was devastated when I got the news of my condition. I was also on pain meds and muscle relaxers which were only able to take some of the edge off. I was terrified of surgery but I had 2 opinions and it seemed to be the best option, as my pain and numbness, and weakness were getting worse. I had acdf surgery with plating on March 6th of this year. I am happy to report that I am doing very well so far. My pain has been almost totally gone since 3 days post-op and all of my numbness since the one month mark. I am glad that I had the surgery as of now. I have a very physically difficult job so I will see if and when I can return to my old job. It sounds like you have all of your preparations in place for your up-coming surgery. Just a few things that helped me were: long bendable straws, slip on walking shoes, and a reacher and extra long shoehorn(yes, like the seniors use)lol. Good luck and God bless with your surgery. Keep us updated how things are going and if I can help in any way feel free to write.
  • You sound well prepared for your surgery. Look at the surgery stickies about things you might want on hand to eat or drink. Carbonated beverages are easier than flat. Things that are thick and smooth tend to be easier - mashed potatoes, pudding, ice cream. Also, I found spaghetti with sauce easy to swallow (I cut it into pieces) and believe it or not - potato chips were easy to swallow and you get the crunch factor (but of course you have to take small bites and chew well before swallowing. Tuna fish sandwiches were also ok. Experiment to see what works. I had a 4 level (and I also had a lot of bone spurs) so I probably had more issues than most. A recliner was my best friend after the surgery.

    Take care,
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
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  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    DONT forget straws!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Hi Kendra, welcome to the forums. As others have said, you seem to be well-prepared which is great. Please feel free to ask any and all questions.......this site is an excellent resource, with lots of great people. :-)

    Good luck!
  • MetalneckMetalneck The Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,789
    edited 05/14/2013 - 12:49 PM
    Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream - Was my best friend!!

    Best of results,

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  • KreevesKKreeves Posts: 5
    edited 05/15/2013 - 9:15 AM
    Bill, I am so glad to hear that your surgery has been a success! I have scared myself reading about the horrors of multi level fusion... I am sending prayers your way for you to have a full recovery and are able to go back to your demanding job.

    Thanks all for the additional pointers, as my shopping list keeps growing in preparation of this surgery. I am happy to have advice from you guys that have been through this already. I haven't gotten much from my surgeon besides "everyone is different". LOL

    Right after my first post, I had a few really bad days. I had to miss work last Wednesday and Thursday and had to make a trip to the ER. My pain was so severe, the meds were not helping. So, they gave me dilaudid and Valium injections and sent me on my way.... After I woke up from that drug induced coma, my pain was just as bad as it was before I went to the hospital. I pray that the surgery alleviates my pain and headaches because I cannot live like this anymore.
    Did any of you all have debilitating headaches before acdf?
    ACDF C5-7: 5/30/13
  • Kendra,

    I have headaches associated with my neck problems, but I don't find mine horrible. But many folks do have terrible headaches, so it does vary. I also hope you will find much needed relief after surgery. PLEASE make sure you follow all the directions from your surgeon, though.......many people tend to over-do because they feel so much better. I would be lying if I said I did everything the right way. It's an easy trap to fall in to. :-)

  • Charlie,

    I know how I am and I know this will be a problem for me! I keep reminding myself that I will need to take it easy and not over do things afterwards. However easy it is for me to sit here and say this now, when I feel better it will be a different story.

    My surgeon has been pretty vague about what to expect after surgery... He said that I could be off work for 6-8 weeks, but he has had some people that went back after 1... I couldn't imagine going back to work so soon. Pretty much all that I know about the surgery and the recovery I have searched out and read myself. Thank the lord for the internet! If I was facing this alone, I would be terrified! Not saying that I do not have moments of fear, because that would be insane :)

    I think I probably rambled a bit, the meds make me a tad silly
    ACDF C5-7: 5/30/13
  • Ha! I totally understand about the rambling and the meds, for sure.

    As far as going back to work......it certainly depends on what you do and the physicality of it. I also know how it is to be off work, not making income, etc. I just advise anyone to give yourself as much time as possible because having multiple surgeries stinks, having lived it. :-)

  • Thanks for your prayers. I have an appointment with my neuro-surgeon in a week and I am hoping he releases me from my hard collar. It will be 11 weeks and boy am I ready! I never was bothered by headaches but I did visit er twice for shoulder and arm pain and some disturbing numbness. I hope you can get some relief for your pain and headaches.
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