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Home after ACDF
Apr 16, 2004
I went Wednesday for the myelogram/CT - not too bad, but I'm glad it's over. I was able to leave Wednesday afternoon and stay at the hotel with hubby. Then we went in early Thursday to meet with the surgeon. He told me he still thought the majority of my problem was coming from the neck; he planned to do a one-level ACDF with donor bone; he didn't need any hardware with only one level. He took a lot of time with us and I agreed to the surgery.

So, that was 10:00 a.m. yesterday and I came home today. I'm in a soft collar (for 6 weeks) except when I'm in bed. The neck pain is starting up now, but MY BACK DOES NOT HURT! I noticed this even in the recovery room and it is so obvious - I am elated. I really didn't believe that all that back pain could be coming from my neck, but I guess it was. The doc said that the herniation was much larger than what showed up on the MRI and myelogram/CT, btw. So he felt even more strongly that that was the problem area. He did not want to do anything in my t-spine, although there are several herniations (small) and spurs there.

My throat is sore and feels swollen - like a bad strep throat, I guess - and the incision area in front. Lozenges help a little, but I'm going to try some orange sherbet in a few minutes. It is a bit difficult to swallow, especially dry foods and large pills.

Another problem I had was severe itching after surgery - I think it was from the tape on the dressing. They really went overboard with the tape, and when they pulled it off today (only steri-strips are left) I saw the red rash and blotchiness. The itching is pretty much gone now, but I'll have to use lotion on my neck/chest for several days to clear that up. Maybe I've developed a tape allergy?

The doc sent me home with a video with instructions on exercises, etc., so I guess I'll start those up tomorrow. Post-op checkup is at 6 weeks, with no driving until then.

All in all, not too bad for day 1. I do feel I did the right thing. Doc says I could possibly return to nursing in 3-4 months :D
Re: Home after ACDF
Apr 18, 2004
Yes, you are right. My worst day was day 4. But things get better quickly. I never had neck pain after the surgery, but a lot of hip pain from taking bone from there. I was really having a hard time with the 24 hours a day hard collar and little sleep. After about a week I got used to it and slept pretty well. I am now 6 months post op and feel great. I am going to play golf this evening. Good luck in your recovery and take your time! You will go 2 steps forward and 1 step back, so be prepared.
About the throat..the first 10 days I could not even swallow saliva. I had to spit in a cup! My wife loved that one. I am much better now, but still need more water than normal to eat dry foods.
The worst part of the whole thing was after taking off the aspen collar after 18 days. I had nasty muscle spasms from lack of use and it took weeks to get my range of motion back.
Re: Home after ACDF
Apr 18, 2004
Beeyes, thanks for posting - it is encouraging to hear that you're doing so well at this point. I understand that recovery will be "3 steps forward, 2 steps back," and have to watch that I don't overdo things on my *good* days. I can't imagine anyone having this surgery and NOT having any neck pain! How is that possible? Maybe your hip hurt so much you didn't notice your neck hurting?? ;)

I'm in a soft collar except to sleep, and I have wondered if that might not lead to more muscle spasms, since I'm not exercising those muscles. But the spasms have definitely started, and they are the worst when I'm trying to turn over in bed or get out of bed. If I just had someone to lift up my head, I'd be fine. I want to scream with the pain, and I've been waking up my husband several times at night. Nothing he can do, of course. I'm not sure why most of the pain at this point is on the left side of my neck and left shoulder. I think the disc herniation was "central" rather than off to one side or the other.

The swallowing (pain) seems a little better today, but my throat still feels swollen when I swallow dry foods. I'm trying to drink a lot, and sucking on Cepacol lozenges which help a bit.

I'm so encouraged to hear that you're playing golf already! I hope you did well and had fun. Please keep posting and encouraging the rest of us!

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