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2-level cervical ADR surgery 2/23/15

I had 2-level cervical disc replacement surgery (C4/5 and 5/6) on 2/23 with the Mobi C device. I found very little information when researching this procedure, so I wanted to share my experience in case someone else might find it helpful.

After 2 years of pain and trying everything I could think of, including 2 epidural injections, I finally decided to go the surgical route. My surgeon and I decided that fusion surgery was not the right choice for me for a number of reasons, so I went with disc replacement instead.

The Mobi C is currently the only disc approved by the FDA for 2-level replacements, and I had heard about people having difficulties getting their insurance companies to cover the procedure since it is so new compared to the fusion approach. I have BCBS (Texas) and was approved for my procedure in just a few days! I feel very lucky that this part went so smoothly, since I was in a lot of pain and my quality of life was pretty low.

My surgeon, whom I chose because he had performed thousands of this particular surgery through the clinical trials, operated out of a private surgical center as opposed to a big hospital, which ended up being a really amazing experience (for what it was) and did not cost me any more. I would highly recommend this if it is an option for you.

Anyways, like many others, I was told that recovery would be no big deal, and that I might have side effects of "tightness" and "a sore throat" for a few weeks. Luckily, I had done my research and knew that this might not be the case. When I woke up from surgery, I was already full of pain meds and feeling fine. I had a morphine drip and was given hydrocodone if I requested it and soma (muscle relaxer). Unfortunately, something made me extremely nauseous and the vomiting made my neck and throat pain quite awful. I felt like I was being tortured and I wanted to die. :(

Luckily, this passed after several hours. I didn't sleep well because I was woken up for my vitals to be taken every hour, and I was discharged the following day after managing to keep down some jello and crackers. I was sent home with a prescription for soma and hydrocodone, a breathing contraption that would help prevent me from developing pneumonia, and some leg cuffs that inflated and deflated to keep my blood circulating (and which felt really good!). Outside of being told not to get my incision wet for a few days, not to lift more than 10 pounds, and not to drive until I stopped taking narcotics, I had no other instructions.

On post-op days 2 and 3, I took my medications as scheduled and slept a lot. Waking up in the morning without meds in my system was awful.. Terrible pain in my throat, neck, and down into my shoulders. I could only eat soft foods, and Popsicles and ice cream were the only things that helped my throat at all. I also realized that I needed to write down the medication schedule and when I had actually taken them, because I started to get confused and accidentally took too much. :/

Day 4 I removed my bandage and showered for the first time. My incision looked really amazing! My surgeon did a great job. Still some pain, but definitely decreasing and well managed with my medications, as long as I took them on schedule.

Today is day 5 and I am doing great! Still some pain in my neck and a bad headache, but I can get around really well. I've been out of bed, sitting on the couch, walking around the house, taking care of myself almost like normal. I have been very careful not to lean or bend too much and to ask for help with things like putting my socks on. I don't want to push it, especially since help is available. I had planned to go outside for a walk today, but the weather is super cold and rainy, so I postponed that outing until tomorrow. :)

So, overall, I disagree with my surgeon's "no big deal/tightness/sore throat" description of recovery. But in general, I feel like things are going much better than I had imagined. My husband has mentioned that I have been wheezing and making strange breathing noises on my sleep though, so if anyone has any experience with this, I'd love to hear about it.

I can continue to update on this forum if people are interested, and I can also post pictures of my incision if that is helpful. Just let me know!
***
L4/5/S1 scar tissue removal surgery, plus unexpected L4/5 microdiscectomy #2 October 2015
L4/5 microdiscectomy May 2015
2-level ADR C4-6 (Mobi-C) February 2015
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Comments

  • Congrats on taking the step to heal/fix yourself. I had the same surgery Jan 16. From experience, please keep your fiber and water intake high!!! I mean insanely high!! And record how much water your taking in, along with a food log. I found for myself due to the meds, and my throat hurting, I was not eating much nor drinking enough water. But the meds for me gave me the sense as I was hydrated. An ER visit later, and a enema I was not!! I do not mean to freak you out by no means, but that was one thing that was not explained to me very clearly, how much the meds back you up. And you may not notice it at all, but when you do its a dosy.

    Also, be careful and take it slow! You have what ive told my friend a mind body disconnect. After being in pain for so long, and then having the surgery, im sure you're in some pain. But not the levels you had prior to surgery. As such your mind feels "great" , but keep in mind your body has gone through a HUGE Trauma, and it will take time. Youll have good days and bad like any recovery. But don't let to many good days give you a false sense of security.

    I hope and wish you continued good health during your healing. And please if I can share anything from my experience please ask. You are one of a very few whom have had the 2 level disk replacement done, that I've found on the forums. We're a diamond in the rough :) I am 5 weeks post op. Im just now feeling confident to be out my soft collar more. I have some speaking issues still, I posted another topic on that in the forums today.

    Im 34 prior to my accident, in great health, active person. So Im hoping I get back to that in time for summer.
  • Thank you so much for your message! It feels really nice to have somebody who knows what I'm going through. I have started a food and liquid log, your tip was very helpful. The last thing I need is another trip to the hospital! It was also helpful to hear that the recovery process has ups and downs. I've never had a major surgery like this, so I have been looking at my random pain is setbacks as opposed to part of the process. It's good to know that this is normal, and that even if I have a rough day, I am still on the road to recovery.

    Both yesterday and today I have woken up with terrible headaches. Today was so so awful, the pain made me cry. I have a pretty high tolerance, so this has been quite humbling for me. I felt like somebody had taken a big rock and slammed it into the base of my skull.. The pain radiated all through my head. Is this something you have experienced? Does this seem normal?
    ***
    L4/5/S1 scar tissue removal surgery, plus unexpected L4/5 microdiscectomy #2 October 2015
    L4/5 microdiscectomy May 2015
    2-level ADR C4-6 (Mobi-C) February 2015
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  • HardworkingTHHardworkingT Posts: 25
    edited 03/01/2015 - 10:49 AM
    I'm very happy to hear the tips were helpful and that you started a log. Much like yourself, this was my first major surgery too. And I was very scared to have it done. But the potential benefit of it outweighed the alternative and hence I move forward.

    As for the headaches, the best is yet to come. :( I still have them. Keep in mind that your body is dealing with alot of inflammation right now. And all those muscles from as low as your traps to as high as the tip of your head are on high alert. How my PT explained it to me, was that the muscles had adapted to your neck over the period of time you were hurt. And then suddenly you have your neck streched apart and fixed. Are bodies are resilient, but they also take time to adapt to this new trauma.

    I asked for a copy of my post op notes, and when I read what the did it made sense that my body was hurting all over. Regardless of how "simple" the surgeon made it sound, its a pretty damn intense procedure we just went through. Hopefully for your this doesnt stand true. But I found roughly about 2 weeks after my op, I felt worse then before I had the surgery. In short, I did alot of research about what I was about to have done, but clearly I underestimated the recovery process. Try to be kind to yourself during this time. I am still struggling with this. But we are all different in how we heal, and how we deal with pain. Keep a pain journal, if you have questions about something or concerns. Unless its 911 bad, give it a day or two. Its likely inflammation and pain from healing. Stop on top of your meds, sleep, and "relax". Easier said then done.

    I can also tell you that trying to sleep is almost impossible for me some days, just last night I was up to 3 am. I just couldn't get comfortable regardless of what pillow configuration I had going on. I've read from multiple people on the forums thats an issue for many. I am hoping it'll resolve itself over time.

    Keep me updated,
    T
  • brandis77bbrandis77 Posts: 193
    edited 03/02/2015 - 11:51 AM
    Wow, I really hope I'm not suffering for too long with these headaches! It does make sense about my entire body readjusting itself after surgery, though. Thankfully the only problem I've had with sleeping has been that the narcotics keep me awake randomly, even though I am still taking my sleeping medication.

    On your suggestion, I downloaded an app to track my pain (called "my pain diary" I think?). It's very simple but I can see how it's a great idea for me to keep for myself and also to show my doctor. Luckily, I have my first follow-up appt this week, so maybe I can get some more answers before too long.

    How much activity did your doc recommend in the first few weeks following your surgery? I'm trying to rest and relax (which is very hard for me), but parts of my body are starting to ache from inactivity. :/
    ***
    L4/5/S1 scar tissue removal surgery, plus unexpected L4/5 microdiscectomy #2 October 2015
    L4/5 microdiscectomy May 2015
    2-level ADR C4-6 (Mobi-C) February 2015
  • Rest and relax is key!!!! DO IT. :) I am a VERY active person myself and resting does not come natural for me at all and was the most difficult thing to do. But your body needs rest to recover. If I had a penny for every time I heard that haha.

    My surgeon was very unhelpful with the amount of activity I should have. I am now entering week 7 and finally feeling like I can increase my activity level, along with going to PT. But I will be honest with you, I have not personally felt comfortable driving yet, and have alot of anxiety around it. Also when I am in a car I prefer to have my soft collar on cause the vibrations hurt like hell. I am hoping to add more walking into my program. But I am nervous, I know its all in my mind, but its a very real feeling I have. Its like I dont know my body anymore and that's lead me into quite the depression.

    Again, this is coming from an active person who for the better part of a year has had to experience his body ... fail would be to strong, ,but act very differently then it has in the pass.
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  • javcolonjjavcolon Posts: 18
    edited 03/04/2015 - 6:45 PM
    Hi I am Javier, I am 30 years of age and pretty active. Despite my age, I've dealt with the typical disc problems read here for 2 yrs. I did the PT, chiro, injections, etc. Due to my issues becoming worst and affecting my job and life I began to visit surgeons. After learning, researching my options and getting a few opinions I felt comfortable moving forward with the 2 level ADR using the LDR Mobi-c.

    Well I got the surgery on 2/20/15, Post surgery I remained at the hospital for about 8 hrs. I felt woozy but didn't feel incapable. My issues were mainly in my neck, trapezoid shoulder areas therefore the immediate arm relief many people feel, I didnt. The pain In my neck, back and shoulders was still there and hard to differentiate due to the common soreness that follows such surgery. I was told this is normal and time will help. I went home that night barely able to turn my neck. I was told a neck brace would slow down my healing and given a pain pack of oxy/perc and hydromorphone. My 2nd day home wasn't too bad. My throat was a bit sore but not like what I heard would be the case. My voice was normal and I felt I could eat anything although I stuck with liquids.

    My day 4 and 5 became worst. My nights became more uncomfortable as I began to really struggle with sleep. I felt the same pain discomfort in neck and bottom of head along my traps and shoulders. Began to feel sensations down my left arm of weakness which I didn't feel prior to surgery. I spoke to my surgeon and he said it's not abnormal and I needed to have patience. He said My body and neck were pretty much stretched in a way that shocked my muscles. I saw his PA on day 8 And was given a steroid pack Medrol. To reduce internal swelling.

    Here I am on day 12 and on my 2nd to last day of Medrol pack and I feel the same. Also feeling weakness in y toes on and off. My surgeon is away but tells me my post op course is not abnormal for people my age that are active. I am trying to be patient and optimistic but I am scared. I am feeling pain and discomfort I never felt prior. Although I know my body needs to recover I just figured I would deal with pain around the area and possibly the same pre op issues, worst case scenario. I didn't expect new pain in areas across my body.

    I am due for another followup in a few weeks but I think I want to demand a X ray or scan next week. I will say that I am eating whatever I want or I can. Although I try to mix soft and solids. I don't ha c e a sore throat although the outside of neck is obviously sore. My wound I healing well too.
    Any advice?
  • Driving is scary to me also. It definitely doesn't help that I totaled my car 2 weeks before my surgery and now I have a new one that I'm not familiar with. :/ I'm even scared to move my head around all the way! Today I went for a walk and got freaked out because I felt a weird feeling in my neck.. a kind of clicking, like I swallowed pop rocks or something? It's hard not to be ultra sensitive and observant knowing that there are new parts in my body. I'm trying to remind myself that my body is BETTER now. Like, the old thing was jacked up and leaky, and now I have a shiny new one that I will get to know in time. But the mind is a powerful thing, and it seems like one negative thought can outweigh 10 positive ones. Your advice has been very helpful to me, maybe you could read back what you wrote and pretend someone else said it? ;) It has definitely helped me stay positive through this. :)
    ***
    L4/5/S1 scar tissue removal surgery, plus unexpected L4/5 microdiscectomy #2 October 2015
    L4/5 microdiscectomy May 2015
    2-level ADR C4-6 (Mobi-C) February 2015
  • I am new to the spine-health forum. Discovered it tonight when I began researching different sites to see if my recovery experience is "normal". I jumped in on this conversation because I too had Disc Replacement Surgery of C5-6, C6-7 on Jan 12, 2015. Two discs were inserted with 8 screws, no plate. So I'm about 8 weeks out and thought I was doing pretty well until I went back to work yesterday and I'm definitely feeling a setback......back on the heating pad on the recliner. It's true what I read in someone else's post....that suddenly at that magical 6-8 week mark the family sees you moving around more and your work colleagues see you back and everyone thinks you are completely healed! And I'm honestly tired of talking about pain, tired of being asked about pain and I'm sure some folks around me are tired of hearing about it. I am a very healthy and very active 56 year old. I think that's why its frustrating to learn AFTER the surgery that the nerve healing and bone fusion takes a year. I wasn't emotionally prepared for that.

    As far as some of the other concerns I'm reading about, my NS did not want me wearing a collar so I haven't had similar concerns about driving. My neck feels pretty strong. And I have been doing a LOT of walking. I find I feel the best when I'm walking. I would tell anyone going back to work to start with half days because going back has really been difficult on my body. I sit a lot at a computer so I think that's why. The burning pain between my shoulder blades and the pain in my shoulder definitely worsened these past two days compared to where I was before. So I'm going to take a muscle relaxer, Flexeril, and oxycodone tonight just to rest. Haven't had to take any meds the past couple weeks so I'm hoping this is temporary.

    I have not started any physical therapy......NS said not yet at my last visit. And regarding the comment I read about follow up X-rays, I have had two post op checks so far and each time I have to get an X-ray right before and bring it with me. I go again with an xray at the 12 week mark. I keep doing this throughout the first year. The NS shows it to me at each visit, checking hardware placement and eventually monitoring fusion progress (none yet).

    I hope the others in recovery are progressing. We definitely will each progress differently but it helps to share stories and concerns.
    Hang in there!
    BJB16
    C5/6, 6/7 acdf Jan 2015
  • Hey everyone Tony here. Wanted to check in and see how everyone was doing? PT is coming along for me, my inflammation and muscle stiffness is still pretty high. Trying to stay positive. But my level of inactivity is really getting to me. Hope to hear from everyone.
    BJB16 said:
    I am new to the spine-health forum. Discovered it tonight when I began researching different sites to see if my recovery experience is "normal". I jumped in on this conversation because I too had Disc Replacement Surgery of C5-6, C6-7 on Jan 12, 2015. Two discs were inserted with 8 screws, no plate. So I'm about 8 weeks out and thought I was doing pretty well until I went back to work yesterday and I'm definitely feeling a setback......back on the heating pad on the recliner. It's true what I read in someone else's post....that suddenly at that magical 6-8 week mark the family sees you moving around more and your work colleagues see you back and everyone thinks you are completely healed! And I'm honestly tired of talking about pain, tired of being asked about pain and I'm sure some folks around me are tired of hearing about it. I am a very healthy and very active 56 year old. I think that's why its frustrating to learn AFTER the surgery that the nerve healing and bone fusion takes a year. I wasn't emotionally prepared for that.

    As far as some of the other concerns I'm reading about, my NS did not want me wearing a collar so I haven't had similar concerns about driving. My neck feels pretty strong. And I have been doing a LOT of walking. I find I feel the best when I'm walking. I would tell anyone going back to work to start with half days because going back has really been difficult on my body. I sit a lot at a computer so I think that's why. The burning pain between my shoulder blades and the pain in my shoulder definitely worsened these past two days compared to where I was before. So I'm going to take a muscle relaxer, Flexeril, and oxycodone tonight just to rest. Haven't had to take any meds the past couple weeks so I'm hoping this is temporary.

    I have not started any physical therapy......NS said not yet at my last visit. And regarding the comment I read about follow up X-rays, I have had two post op checks so far and each time I have to get an X-ray right before and bring it with me. I go again with an xray at the 12 week mark. I keep doing this throughout the first year. The NS shows it to me at each visit, checking hardware placement and eventually monitoring fusion progress (none yet).

    I hope the others in recovery are progressing. We definitely will each progress differently but it helps to share stories and concerns.
    Hang in there!
  • I forgot to mention that I experienced the same bad headaches during my first post op month especially when waking up in the morning. Never had headaches in my life like this. They didn't stop until I stopped taking the oxycodone. There's such a thing as a narcotic headache that mimics migraines.....didn't know if this would help anyone.
    BJB16
    C5/6, 6/7 acdf Jan 2015
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