Hi, Jan Wan,
I'm so sorry to hear that you have not only a double dose of surgery coming up but both affecting essentially the same area of your body. Is your cervical repair being done to correct a failed fusion? Were you in an accident? The ACDF was my first surgery for this particular condition (stenosis) so I can't imagine having to layer it just two weeks out from another cervical surgery! I've made the assumption that these were both the same area of your body and, I suppose, in an overall sense, they are, but what disks will the ACDF focus on and what area is the cervical repair addressing?
I play the piano but probably not at the caliber you do, since my playing has always been for purposes of songwriting and concert accompaniment, but not as a stand-alone performance, so I can understand your concern. Following the ACDF, my playing is at about
the same standard; my only issue now being the torn rotator cuff, which is becoming a bit worse as I thoughtlessly move my right arm away from my body. (Today, an immobilizer is being delivered to my home which will essentially bind the arm to my body so I will become a "lefty" for a while.)
Not being sure what your cervical repair is for, I would say that, from the standpoint of the ACDF, itself, you should be able to return to playing the piano just fine. However, you WILL have to get past the tight muscles across the back of your neck and shoulders and this takes time. Really do pay attention to your discharge instructions, Jan, and don't lift more than you are allowed, or you'll have to contend with the muscle tightness for quite a while. (I'm guilty in that respect and paying the penalty.) Your doctor will more than likely prescribe a muscle relaxer and, if you don't care for the sensation of feeling sedated during the day, you might want to ask him to provide Robaxin instead of something like Soma. It provides relief for tight muscles without making you feel like you've been abducted.
Four levels is quite a lot, so your experience will likely be a bit different from mine but good general advice would be:
1.) Pay attention and adapt to discharge instructions.
2.) Do practical things like what I've mentioned on this thread regarding head position while swallowing, humming for vocal cord movement.
3.) Use cold packs to help reduce inflammation around the neck and shoulders but also
4.) Use a heating pad or stand in a nice, hot, pulsating shower when you just want to feel better.
5.) Realize that time is your friend. It may seem like an eternity but it isn't.
6.) Do not pick at your steri-strips. Let them come off themselves over time.
7.) Do use sun-block on your scar when you go out, as soon as your doctor says you can begin putting something on it. Vitamin E capsules, cocoa butter, Mederma, etc., are all good to fade the scar, if used consistently.
8.) Don't rush your recovery, or you'll end up feeling worse and "hit the skids" (depression). Your body needs sufficient time to recover. Any surgery is a bit traumatic but the spine is particularly delicate.
9.) Invest in a good pillow to help you sleep at night. I found such a simple one, the Core 219 Petite Core Pillow-White-Firm (my neck is small, so petite for me). It took about
a week to live with it so that I learned how to hit the sweet spot but I was so impressed with it, I wrote a review for it. You'll want to take the time to read other reviews and find just the right kind for you, but it's worth it in the long-run.
All these things (along with a few accidental discoveries I made on my own) were learned not only by surfing the web but here, where I've gotten some really good practical advice, as well as some good "hang in there" encouragement. These types of forums are a great place to ask questions, compare experiences and just commiserate together. I've been made to feel that there are no "dumb" questions so I'll just pass that on to you. I'm still an ACDF rookie but the vets are happy to jump in, so ask away!
Since my personal site reveals who I am and does endorse my books and music and I don't want to be a spammer, let's just pretend this is my site: www.ilovemygrandbabyandIwillsoonbelovinganewone.com (so, yay for me!)
Post Edited (IAmGrammy) : 4/14/2014 6:53:25 AM (GMT-6)