Words of Advice for pending 4 level ACDF

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Ricker
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Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 12/21/2017 2:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Scheduled my 4 level ACDF surgery. I'm not so much worried about the surgery as I am about the recovery and potential complications from the surgery. I trust my doc and while he's been reassuring, he's also been straight up. I've watched a lot of youtube but have seen little from those who have had a 4 level fusion. I'd like to hear from anyone who's had this done.





I added your pending surgery to your title.

Post Edited By Moderator (straydog) : 2/21/2018 8:10:05 AM (GMT-7)


straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 12/22/2017 7:55 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Ricker & welcome to the forum. Yes, you have a big surgery coming up. Two key elements to a successful surgery is a great surgeon & how the patient takes care of their self post op is the key. You will have a lengthy recovery which will require a lot of time & patience on your part. We have had a lot of members come through here that has had surgery & many have documented their journey. They have all pretty much moved on with their lives which is a good thing.

Best advice I can give you is be patient!! Once you are home take your medications on a set schedule. Do not get the idea of "oh I will try to tough it out a little longer". That thought will bite you big time. Keeping the pain under control at first is a must. You will not be on pain meds very long & keeping it down is the key.

Please look at the top in CP101 & scroll towards the bottom. Many members that has had surgery put in helpful tips for surgical folks. If you have a recliner great, that will help you immensely. If you don't have one, either buy one or get a loaner from a friend or family. Most found it very difficult to try to get in & out of bed, this is why the need for a recliner. Being prepared ahead of time with meals, plenty of water & most of all your medications. You will be very limited for quite some time. This is the time to be good to yourself & let your body heal. Your body will let you know when you over do things & you really do not want to go there. You want to move forward not backward.

We have a search feature above & you can type in chronic pain forum ACDF & you will find many posts from members. You can read their posts to glean information. Please keep us posted on how you are doing.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

BnotAfraid
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Date Joined Apr 2012
Total Posts : 7391
   Posted 12/22/2017 1:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Ricker,

Straydog, spoke great words of wisdom.

Try to give yourself, kindness and compassion each day, the same as you would to someone else that is recovering. Who deserves it more than you?

Peace
Trina
Moderator - Depression

"...when the gift of sight is cause enough for jubilation."
Billy Collins from the poem. HIGH

DX: reverse Trigeminal Neuralgia;Cluster headaches; Atypical face pain;Hemicrania Continua; raynauds;complex PTSD; recurring MDD,disassociative disorder;

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 12/24/2017 7:41 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks all for the advice. I'm praying the recovery goes well. Im fortunate in that I live close to my work, which is administrative and doesn't require much moving around. Ill keep posting as things unfold.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 12/24/2017 8:57 AM (GMT -6)   
Ricker please do keep us updated & truly consider the recliner. We have too many people that highly recommend a recliner for sleeping. And we have had many that came here after surgery that said I wish I had found this site before. This is based on the tips in CP101 above.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 12/25/2017 9:48 AM (GMT -6)   
One of the most frustrating things is how little I've been able to find from folks who have had 4 level fusions. Like, how long did the surgery take? What was waking up after surgery like?
That type of thing. Im especially interested in positive experiences. I can't look at any more YouTube. Its great, but I've seen enough. Surgery is scheduled for Feb. 23

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 12/25/2017 10:52 AM (GMT -6)   
Ricker, did you not ask the surgeon about how long he thought it would take to do your surgery? He can give you an estimate of the time. It really has not been discussed much here about the length of the surgery. A lot depends on the surgeon & what he finds once he gets to see everything. I wouldn't really be worried about that.

We have had more successful stories here than failures. Whether its a 2 or 4 level surgery, any spine surgery is a big deal. Obviously the more levels involved the bigger the surgery. Expect the usual post op pain when you wake up, they should do their best to make it tolerable. We have a couple of people on the main page that has had surgery fairly recently.

I would stay off Utube, some times over thinking something like this does more harm than good. I suggest making a list of questions for the surgeon & get in to see him prior to surgery.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 12/25/2017 1:53 PM (GMT -6)   
Thabks for all your words of kindness.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 12/26/2017 8:39 AM (GMT -6)   
Ricker, I suspect because you have so much time on your hands between now & your surgery date it's pushing your fears in high gear. It's understandable for sure to have a certain amount of fear any time a surgery is involved.

I have been thinking about your situation & have a few questions. How old are you, answer only if you are comfortable in doing so? What is your overall health like, any other health issues you are dealing with?

What type of work do you do? Is this your first surgery? Obviously the younger a person is when having surgery the odds of healing quicker is in their favor, same with being in good health except for the issue at hand. When I asked about the type of employment you do, the reason is, if it is hard labor type work that involves a lot of lifting or working overhead, this would not be the type of employment you should return to. If possible get a copy of your job description from human resources & discuss this with your dr.

As I mentioned previously, we have more success stories here at HW with cervical fusions than failures. I know you would prefer to ask questions from someone that has had a 4 level done recently. Sometimes that can either help a person or not help them at all. Everyone does not have the same pain tolerance, some people have no tolerance for pain & simply cannot handle it. Others will say of course I was in pain but it was tolerable, its all about perception. I have personally seen situations where some one had a surgery that several others had. If you asked each one their experience you got a different answer & it almost became a contest of who had the worst time of it. Do you see where I am coming from with this. about all that type of thing does it scare a person to death. Moral of my story, don't go down that rabbit hole, its not worth the stress.

Ask any questions you have, we will do our best to help you out. Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 12/26/2017 10:04 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm 59 years old in good overall health. Former triathlete, wrestled in high school. Im the service line director of behavioral health, overseeing the daily operations of behavioral health programs in 4 hospitals. I have a fair amouny of latitude in how active I need to be at work. And can always have someone drive me anywhere I need to be. I have had several surgeries in the past and have always bounced back quickly. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, only taking 2 alleve and 2 robaxin daily. Im honestly trying not to be too neurotic about this whole thing.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 12/26/2017 11:47 AM (GMT -6)   
Ricker, now that you have added a little more information about yourself that helps. You will have to stay out of car for awhile, reason being is you cannot afford to be involved in a fender bender after surgery. I feel certain you will be in a neck brace & many times drs will tell a patient even after being weaned from the brace to wear the collar when riding in a vehicle for a bit. This is to protect your neck. Once surgery is done on the spine a person should always just use common sense on activities, you don't ever want to compromise the surgery that has been done.

I again urge you to check out CP101 on the tips posted by members. Will you have someone at home with you after surgery? You should have someone with you & not be alone if it can be avoided. Do you have a recliner, I asked this before. Most people have some swallowing issues right after surgery, generally it goes away in a few weeks. Get yourself one of those grabbers/reachers, you squeeze the handle & it can pick up things up off the floor, like a sock or something along those lines. Very handy little gadget, Walmart & drug stores carry them.

You are not being neurotic at all, you are trying to be an informed patient. The biggest issue is the several weeks wait until the big day gets here. They will have you up & walking the day of your surgery.

A very dear friend of mine had a 3 level lumbar fusion in March of this year. She is 68 years old & has not ever had surgery. Not really physically active, but not a couch potato either. The dr told her that he may have to do a 4 level fusion it just depended on what he found inside. A 3 level is a lot for someone at that age. She found a top notch neurosurgeon & followed the post op instructions to the letter. By July she was down at the coast fishing off of a pier, lol. Since then, she has done a good deal of traveling. I am so thankful she has done so well. She said I won't lie, it was very painful & hard the first few weeks, but each day got a little better. She was smart enough to not to have unrealistic expectations. Lots of patience needed. All she was allowed to do was walk, sitting put too much stress on her spine.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 12/27/2017 12:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Susie: Thanks for thw tips and advice. I know my level of activity will be reduced for a while. I'm probably like most in that I think I'll be back up to my pre-surgery level of activity shortly after surgery. Keeping my expectations realistic will be a challenge.

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 2/19/2018 2:10 PM (GMT -6)   
The count down has begun. Going to have ACDF on Friday. Theyre going to do a c3 and c4 discectomy and fusion and a c5-c6 corpectomy. Overall I feel pretty good about it. I know it needs to be done as my cervical spine problems will only get worse. Ill update after surgery.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 2/20/2018 6:20 AM (GMT -6)   
Good morning Ricker. I am sure you will do well with your surgery. Did you by chance check out CP101 & read the tips posted by surgery members? Lots of good tips in there.

Sending many healing thoughts & prayers your way.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Abilene
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2014
Total Posts : 978
   Posted 2/21/2018 8:04 AM (GMT -6)   
So sorry to just be entering this conversation so late but from the title I did not realize what it was AND just didn't read it.

DO READ CHRONIC PAIN 101. Skip down to about 9/14 to find notes made by and for us who have had this surgery or anything related.

My own experience is on this site with the same name as in my signature. It might answer some of your questions, although a posterior surgery is very different from anterior. I liked that my doctor was able to use the material he was removing for my graft.

SUGGESTION: Change the title to include ACDF or something related so it will get the attention of those of us like me too lazy to read everything.

Keep us updated! We care! And THINK FUSION!

Very best wishes for you to heal well and quickly!
Posterior C3 - C7 laminectomy and fusion 2 rods and 10 screws, local bone graft from surgery site-lamina and other bony tissue 12/17/2013; Hyperthyroidism; Sleep Apnea-update-it's gone after a 25 lb weight loss; Total Knee Replacement 2012 and 2017.
Thankful for my husband of over 40 years

Post Edited (Abilene) : 2/21/2018 7:31:33 AM (GMT-7)


Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 2/25/2018 9:57 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi all. Had a 4 level ACDF on 2/23. Im still in the hospital as the drain they put in is still draining, but planning on going home today. Right now the worse things are the sore throat and the cervical collar. Intermittent oral Dilaudid and Robaxin are helping. Have walked a couple of times, kinda shakey. PT is supposed to check me out before I leave. Anyway, got thru it. More to follow.

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 2/26/2018 7:18 AM (GMT -6)   
Ricker, glad to see your surgery went well. Do your best to keep your pain under control for a bit. Yes, everyone complains about the sore throat in the beginning. Update us when you feel like it.

Take care.
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 2/27/2018 8:58 AM (GMT -6)   
Day 5 post 4 level ACDF. I wont sugar coat anything, this is difficult. I thought I could "tough it out" by only taking pain meds when I needed them-WRONG! Take pain meds exactly like your surgeon tells you. Im still having trouble swallowing and my speech is raspy. The neck brace is awkward and contributes to the discomfort. Strength-wise, I feel pretty good, walking around the house, going up and down stairs with my wife nearby. More later...

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16304
   Posted 2/27/2018 10:13 AM (GMT -6)   
Ricker, I am sorry that you took the wrong path with your pain meds. This is why we tell folks take them on a schedule. You will not be on them long enough to have any issues.Same with your muscle relaxers take them on a schedule.

Please be careful on the steps!!
Susie
Moderator in Chronic Pain & Psoriasis Forums

Ricker
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2017
Total Posts : 10
   Posted 3/2/2018 5:35 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi all: Day 6 post op. I've turned a corner. The only pain med I'm taking is liquid Tylenol. My sore throat has resolved, though I'm still having difficulty swallowing. I'm trying to eat more solid foods but I have to be careful. As far as physical strength, I feel pretty good. Still taking regular walks around the house several times per day as well as going up and down stairs. The soreness I had in my upper chest from the breathing tube has largely resolved. The collar is, well, the collar. I still cant find one setting that works all the time. Just have to take it one day at a time.

Abilene
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2014
Total Posts : 978
   Posted 3/3/2018 3:27 PM (GMT -6)   
It sounds like you are doing well. Just don't Overdo it...too much, too soon. Use your pain as a guide to know when you have been up enough or walked enough. Did your dr give you any idea how long you will be in the collar? It varies greatly. Mine was only 2 weeks.

Thanks for staying in touch. We want to know how you are doing.
Posterior C3 - C7 laminectomy and fusion 2 rods and 10 screws, local bone graft from surgery site-lamina and other bony tissue 12/17/2013; Hyperthyroidism; Sleep Apnea-update-it's gone after a 25 lb weight loss; Total Knee Replacement 2012 and 2017.
Thankful for my husband of over 40 years
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