4 Week Post Op ACDF

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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 5/11/2011 11:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Greetings my HW family and apologies I dropped out for a bit since my last update. Tomorrow I see the surgeon for my first post op visit. I am a bit anxious and thus can't fall asleep. So here goes it..
I have been following resting, walking, and all the rules to the letter so I hope I am making progress.

I have been weaning off some of the pain meds gradually and that seems to be going ok, that being said I am after all doing NOTHING. I have also felt my swallowing has improved, although there seems to still be alot to go. At times when I lay in bed I can feel the lump press down on my throat. I had two episodes where I coughed and the pain was so bad I cried for a half hour each time. Thus any time I felt like a cough might come on (Allergies have been flooding my throat with gunk) I get a panic attack. Last Friday morning I woke up to feeling like I needed to puke and I began to panic so much so that as I tried to make my way up the stairs to the bathroom I tripped up on the last step at the landing and fell to my knees and over. I don't know if anything happened and I did not feel anything. I monitored myself and all seems as it was. I probably should have called the doc, but my feeling was since I was already scheduled this week and they would be doing an xray anyway I am not sure if anything could be done then that couldn't wait until my appt.

I still have spasm issues (expected), occasional nerve shock like bolts, some minor tingling in the finger, but that seems mainly in bed. I realize I am still early in the healing process, so I am not alarmed.

I finally can sleep in my bed all night, took 4 weeks but I am there. If the dr ok's it I am going to ask if I can get a partial release for a few hours of work per week. 2-3 hours for 3 days to start. Most of what I would have going on is some conference calls and review and comment on some reports. My boss will not allow me to push it at ALL. I did get a call from the CEO at the three week mark and it was strictly personal, he just wanted to see how I was doing since he went through a lumbar fusion years ago. I have been struggling with some post op depression that hit me a bit hard this week, so a distraction would be good for me.

Well, I will post more after my appointment. Hugs...

White Beard
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 5/12/2011 1:24 AM (GMT -6)   
It is a bit early to be thinking about going back to work isn't it????? May I suggest when you first start going back try it for  one or two hours  ( no more than two, one is better) and do that every day for two weeks   or so, and then slowly increase it a hour a day in one or two week intervals.  but to start off do the hour or two for two weeks. I personally think that it is to early, even if you are only answering phones. I am sure you will find that one or two hours will be more than engough for you at first! And you do not want stress your self or have any set backs! I know when I had my first fusion in the military I was assistant Branch Chief of the A-10 flight simulator at that time, and I did not even go back to work till 6 or 8 weeks after the surgery and I started off doing one hour in the morning  for a week or so and then also one hour in the afternoon. and I worked that way for another week or so, I think it was closer to two weeks  my hours were increased a hour a day a week at a time till I was working a full 8 hour shift. It worked out well for me.
 But again when I had that first surgery ACDF at C-6/7( March 1985) I had no voice for close to 4 months either, as they damaged the nerve going to the vocal cords and I had a heck of a time swallowing too, I found out just before they did my second fusion ( Sept.2009) at C-5/6 that my vocal cords on my right side are still paralyzed and I still have some swallowing difficulties, and a heck of a problem with gagging and retching if I do certain exercises or movements with my neck! When it happens it is just like I am getting sick to my stomach,  but the stomach is not involved at all, just very severe spasms of the throat and the gagging and retching!  While it is happening,  I get needle sticks and electric shocks across my upper chest and upper back from shoulder to shoulder. Infact the monday before last I had a very severe episode at my pulmonary rehab class, doing the warm up exercises and stretches, the  rehab nurses, sent me home after it finally stopped! Some times these episodes will last just a few moments, other times they last allot longer and it really takes it out of me. I have had this problem since  just a short time after my first fusion!   Anyway REDSAM you really need to take it easy and do not hurry to get back to work and when you do go back,  you need to be extremely careful,  and don't do anything foolish! 
I will be anxious to see your post, I hope your appointment goes well! 
Good Luck to you REDSAM!
White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 5/12/2011 9:58 AM (GMT -6)   
I've not had a fusion yet, but I do think you should hold off on the work, and
that you do need to let your doctor know that you fell...give yourself some more healing time
I hope your doing better a little each day and send you plenty of well wishes...
Keep us posted a to your doctors appointment...
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16796
   Posted 5/12/2011 10:43 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi RedSam hope all is continuing to go well for you. One of the biggest mistakes we often see people do after surgery is return to work too soon and the setback is just something really not needed especially if you are doing well. The setbacks sure can take it out of a person too and I really would hate to see this happen to you. I hope you will heed WhiteBeard's advice on this since he has been down the neck surgery road so much.

Hopefully your fall will not be anything serious, sorry to hear that happened. You mentioned a little depression, I think a lot of people do this after surgery, I don't know why but it does happen. I have had it happen to me in the past after surgery. Glad to hear you are sleeping in the bed, good sleep will help the healing process so much.

Please let us know what your dr says. Take care and no more falls please.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

spinal soldier
Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2009
Total Posts : 687
   Posted 5/12/2011 5:37 PM (GMT -6)   
no, no work! 6 months. no more surgery
L4,L5,S1 bilateral Laminectomies, Foraminotomies 2002
L4-S1 PLIF with instumentation 2008,

current Rx: MScontin 100mg q8hrs. , dilaudid 8mg q6hrs. prn, oxymorphone IR 10mg q6 ,vistaril 50mg prn nausea, Lyrica 150mg 2x,Adderall 20mgs 1x A.M. 10mg PM prn, Soma 350 mg 3X, Elavil 25 HS, diazepam 10mg bid prn, Supplements: CO-Q10 100mg, Vitamin D 1000IU, Fish-Oil1000mg EFA, B-Complex50 3x/day, ALA

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 636
   Posted 5/12/2011 9:07 PM (GMT -6)   
I hope your appointment goes well. I had 1 level ACDF just over a year ago. I went back to work part time as an Activity Director at the 2 week mark and then full time at 3 weeks. I was able to wean of meds at the 1-2 week mark, so I was very,very lucky. I guess comparing it to my lumbar fusion this was a piece of cake. I could taylor my day to how I felt though and could lay down as needed. My workplace was only a 10 minute drive too. I agree, I went back way to fast, but I felt guilty for staying home when my seniors needed their bingo,lol. Silly, but I love those little old ladies.

Everyone will heal differently, if you have the time, and feel you need it, stay home!

I did fall down a flight of steps, landing on my hands and knees, at the 1 month point after my lumbar fusion. My dr assured me that unless I took a fall from a 2nd story window I couldnt damage the actual site. Muscle strain is different, but anatomically the screw, plates, etc.. are very secure. That didnt make me worry any less, so I went to the ER for xrays anyway. Of course it was fine.

Relax and have a good appointment and keep up the successful recovery!

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 5/19/2011 10:56 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks all for the wonderful advice.  My dr appt went well.  Nothing was disturbed from my fall and he is pleased with how things are progressing.
He did give me a release for some work at home with the following restrictions:  No more than 4 hours per day and ONLY at my discression.  So I work when I feel good and rest often and no work if I don't feel good and nap when I need to.  Work was ok with it and are not loading it on.  So far this week I have only logged 8 hours, most of it printing off and reading emails.  So I am happy trying to slowly get back into a groove.  So do not worry that I am pushing it, I feel pretty good firing up the brain a bit and like the slow gradual pace of getting a routine going based on my choice.
Next week I no longer have to wear the hard collar when I leave the house.  When I get my pain meds back to where they were before surgery then I can drive.   So what I have done this week is reduce the Dilaudid from 16mg 4x per day to 8mg.  I still have the Xanaflex 3x per day, and Tylenol.  Wooo Hooo the MS Contin is gone and I have not needed it at all this week.
I still cannot lift more than a gallon of milk, twist, pull, and all the other lovely restrictions, but that is ok.
I am still having issues with my stomach, allergies and nausea, but I think the low grade fever that has plagued me these past two weeks  is finally gone.  The slight night sleeping numbness and pain is also getting better.
I can't think of anything more at this point.  So I think I will go get my stim device and take a snooze.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 5/19/2011 11:39 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for the update!...Sounds like things are going really well and pretty much on schedule...Just take it easy with work and play it by ear on how long you will last...listening to your body is very important!!...

I have had 3 fusions like WB on my Cervical area....last one they did both Anterior and Posterior the same surgery..blechhh...LOL..

It will be great to get out of the hard collar!!...I sleep every night with tempurpedic pillow that curves to my neck...a small squishy pillow that when on my side it keeps my arms/elbows separated to align my spine...and then a knee/leg pillow that does the same for lower back...So all through the night I 'flip' sides with those two pillows...lol..it's a sight...but boy does it work REALLY well...I can't sleep without them!..

Keep going really slow and following the PT rules about twisting or lifting....

Thanks again for letting us know how you are doing..that is great you are able to go down on the medicine!...

Take care!
SB and "the pup who snores loudly" 
ACDF C5-C7, (no hardware), with autograft bone Nov. 2001
(reabsorption of bone 2 years later...still lost in body..expect to burp it out at anytime..haha")) 
ACDF with hardware, allograft bone Nov. 2005 
Anterior and Posterior CDF, allograft bone with BMP, removal of old hardware, use of titanium plates, rods, screws, & kitchen sink (lol) Oct 2006

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2010
Total Posts : 2265
   Posted 5/20/2011 12:13 AM (GMT -6)   
hi REDSAM Thanks for updating us. It's good to hear that you're doing so well. I'm surprised that you're able to start weaning off the pain meds already, but I haven't had back or neck surgery, so I don't know what it's like. You be careful and don't over do. You take care.

love and soft hugs
Dx: osteoarthritis, bursitis in left hip, Osteoarthrits in right hip, compression fracture in thoracic spine due to falling on frozen ground March 2001 , ddd, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, osteoarthritis in spine, osteoarthritis in both knees
Meds: Fentanyl patch, oxycodone, otc: BenGay, Tylenol Arthritis on occasion

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2012
Total Posts : 11
   Posted 1/4/2012 1:10 AM (GMT -6)   
i had a acdf c-5/ c-6 done 4weeks ago. my throat has cleared up. had experienced shortness of breath like anxiety attacks. i still wake up stiff and in pain. i still have numbness in my legs and arms and my right shoulder are terrible. it is still better than before, i need to phone my doctor because i fell down 4 stairs a few days ago and i dont know if i disturbed anything, but when i cough or sneeze i wanna jus die/cry. i just started therapy and waiting to see how that works. when i sit up or walk/move around to long my neck gets tensed and starts to hurt. it makes it feel as if my head is to heavy for me to be carrying...lol but that was the only way i could describe it. i dont know whats to come but if this is the results of me doing the procedure, i needed not to. rolleyes

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16796
   Posted 1/5/2012 1:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Nanse and welcome to Healing Well's chronic pain forum. First please do contact your dr ASAP, a fall soon after surgery can be critical, so please contact your dr.

I am going to ask you to please start a new introduction post here at the forum. By posting on an old thread like this one not many people will see your post and be able to give you a proper welcome. All you have to do is click Post New Topic and a window will open and you can type something like new member just had surgery, click again and start typing away about yourself.

Again welcome aboard and I hope to see you again.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum
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