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multi level cervical disc replacement

I am 6 weeks post op from a mult-level cervical disc replacement at C4-5, C5-6. I was involved in a MVA in April and have 4 herniated discs in my neck. I went for 3 surgical opinions and was offered a three level fusion. The last doc also offered the 3 level fusion, but suggested we try a 2 level disc replacement. I liked the idea of retaining some of my mobility, so opted for the disc replacement. The surgeon told me that by regaining the height at the C4-5 level we may be able to save the C6-7, which is also herniated.

My recovery has been a slow painful process. I am amazed when I hear people say they were up and about in a matter of days. I never considered myself a whimp, but this surgery was not easy. I'm not a big fan of pain meds, but at 6 weeks post op, I still can't sleep without them. The pain when I lay down is incredible.

I also had the arm pain/numbness/tingling before surgery, my surgeon told me that my nerve was really smashed, so I still had the arm issues after surgery. It has improved, but I still get the tingles every once in a while, so I am still on the Gabepentin for now.

I do have days where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel because the pain drops to a 2 (and that is with taking the Gabepentin and 800mg Ibuprofen). I am never pain free, it seems that I consider a 2 a good day.

I started physical therapy and I am a mess for 3 days, with muscle spasms and pain. The pain just becomes tolerable again then I go back to physical therapy and the cycle starts again.

My surgeon originally wrote me off of work for 6 weeks, but at my 6 week follow-up appointment, extended my leave for 9 weeks, and wrote me a return to work with no restrictions. He also reviewed my x-ray, said everything showed good placement and appeared to be healed and said I don't have to see him for a year. I work 12 hour shifts at a hospital where I am on my feet all day and have to do a fair amount of lifting, so I have 2 weeks to do a miracle turnaround. Since I was released by the surgeon, I now have to go through the pain doctor at the doctors office for medications and to extend my time off.

Forgive me if I sound negative, in reality, I am very thankful. When I stop and consider the potential complications of a surgery of this magnitude, I am amazed and thankful that my only complication is pain (when you read the list of complications it is terrifying). I know that I will never be 100%, but with hard work, time and a lot of prayer, I am hopeful that I will be able to resume the activities I enjoyed before the accident.


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