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Hi all,

Well I am 2 days out from my surgery. Tomorrow I go into hospital and stay overnight. (Aussie time here one day ahead) They then keep me in for 4 days.

My background. 34yo Male, too many years of sports related contact (ouch), including a fall of 50ft onto water ( it feels like concrete) when my harness broke on a little home made experiment me and my mates were trying (boys will be boys!:) + a little bit of genetics if you look at my mum and dad.

Symptoms: Left Arm pain + weakness. C6/C7 Scans show broad based disc bulge, complete effacement of left nerve root and impingment of left anterior cord. Ostephytes as well.

What I have tried: PT, Traction, Nerve Block, Pain Meds. (Oxycontin)

Reason I am having Op: Very hard decision. After having to come back from an overseas posting because of the pain, I was put on an assignment in Oz. I then had to pull out of that due to a major flare up in my pain. The pain tends to decrease slightly and I think everything is ok and on the improve then it returns at full speed after doing something very minor. I have been off work for 3 weeks prior to the op to get off the Oxy (woh that was an experience!) and just rest.

Doubts: I guess the same as everyone else. You always wonder if you are doing the right thing. My wife is VERY supportive of it. Considering she is pregnant and expecting in Feb I want to try to be as well as I can for when the bub arrives :)

Preparation: Had my pre-op appointment. Went very well and was very informative.

1/ Orgainsed an automatic recliner that goes fully flat like a bed and then goes up to help you stand. ($40 Australian a week)

2/ Bought some of the button up shirts which should be easier to get on over the hard collar.

3/ Mum is organised to come down when I first get out of hospital as my wife will be working on and off.

Expectation: Well the surgeon is quite confident that the op (if all goes to plan) will provide me an excellent opportunity for a full recovery. He said the key to getting a good success is to select the right people for the op. I understand I could continue to leave this but something in the back of my mind is telling me this is the time. I have put up with it for 3 yrs and the scans all show a progression. I dont want to leave it until I have any permanent nerve damage.

Well I will leave it at that for now. I will post regularly after the op as I will be off work for at least 6 weeks.

Look forward to providing some good news

All the Best
Paul
Paul,

I'll be thinking about you and looking for your posts - post surgery. I too am 34 and will be having surgery this week, Friday (11/5). Same thing c6/c7 due to injury when I was 14 and it's been getting worse on and off ever since due to my playing competetive soccer.

Sad to say, I'm not really sure what to expect. This is coming on the heals of another big surgery (Ileo-Anal pullthrough to cure Ulcerative colitis) and now that the prednisone is gone my neck is acting up much more.

My doc says that I will not be wearing a brace afterwards. Okay, I'm freaking myself out a little bit realizing that I don't know what to expect when I get out. Time to call the doc...

[B]Best of luck on Wednesday!![/B] Mark
Paul,

Congrats on your surgery - sounds like it has gone well so far and thanks for posting the info.

Thought I'd post because we have some similarities - also living in NSW (I'm in Sydney) - about same age (I'm 36) - and I've also got a new baby due to arrive in January (not feb) - plus I'm a very keen surfer (surfed for about 15 years and sailboarded for about 10 years before that)

I've got a c5/c6 herniated disk after getting driven into a sandbank after pulling into a backhand barrel that shut down on me about 3 months ago.

Haven't determined whether I'll need surgery, or what type I'll get (ACDF or artificial disc) but its good to read a story from someone in the same neck of the woods (pun intended :) ) and a lot of other similarities.

Good luck with it all - hope the recovery continues to go well.

cheers,
Rob.
[QUOTE=thecraw]G'day Rob,

... I cant pin point myself what has caused the most problem with my neck but I'm sure the years of surfing has contributed in some way. I can recall many a slamming in the past that I'm sure wouldnt have done me any good......

I hope you get a full recovery and dont have to go through surgery and good luck with your baby in Jan!

I'll keep you updated on how my progress is.

Cheers
Paul

Edit: My daily outing is when my wife takes me for a drive to Cronulla to sit on the hill and watch and dream of when I can paddle out again.......[/QUOTE]

I'm pretty sure I kicked off some of problems after landing on my neck after a snowboarding jump about 7 years ago - but the recent meeting with the sandbank has certainly moved things along a step ... :rolleyes:

Anyway - I hope you're back out surfing soon! I've found it a bit torturous watching from the sidelines but at the same time I'm also happy to be walking etc! If I do follow in your footsteps I hope I do just as well.

I'd be curious to know which surgeon and hospital you had your surgery at.
(I'm hoping this is allowed within the posting guidelines but I think it should be from the following out of the rules: "[I]You may always name products or services and tell your opinions about them. Naming a book title and author, or a doctor's name w/city/state is OK, just do not post any off-board contact information[/I]").

cheers
Rob.
[QUOTE=rob_zzz]
I'd be curious to know which surgeon and hospital you had your surgery at.
(I'm hoping this is allowed within the posting guidelines but I think it should be from the following out of the rules: "[I]You may always name products or services and tell your opinions about them. Naming a book title and author, or a doctor's name w/city/state is OK, just do not post any off-board contact information[/I]").

cheers
Rob.[/QUOTE]

Rob,

St George Private Hospital, Dr B Kwok also at Randwick. As far as I understand he is a legend in the neuro business. Every doctor/specialist/nurse I have asked has nothing but praise for him. I had comments like ' That guy is red hot', 'If I had to have anything done he would be the guy'.

People travel from all over Oz to see him.

He isnt a 'dedicated spinal specialist' as such and would be considered conservative in his approach. ie no ADR. He appears to be an expert in advanced brain tumor treatments amongst other things. If you are after a dedicated spinal surgeon I think over the north side like Dalcross Hosp. I thought about this myself, but when it comes to these sorts of procedures and specially working around nerves etc I think this guy more then knows what he is doing :)

He is a very approachable man, likes a laugh and is very matter of fact.

Obviously they all have their off days and they are human but from my research this guys is the business.

When I found out he also works in the bush at Neuro clinics and also is a 'no gap' doctor I realised he has a heart for what he does and this sometimes tells you more about a surgeon then anything else.
Thanks for the kind words Solar :) and Tim I will continue to post in this thread whether good or bad. Hope all goes well with your recovery. Depending on the results of my next appt with NS I will ask about the bone stimulator as well.

All the Best
Paul
[QUOTE=dezispec]
Thanks for all the documentation![/QUOTE]

No problem, my pleasure....well kinda not my pleasure..but you get the idea.

I have figured out that just when I think I have this figured out I realise I havnt. :)

Its interesting the people I have come across IRL who have had fusion of some description. Theres this little old lady upstairs in my block of units and I have been helping her with her computer. Out of the blue the other day she says 'I had fusion about 20yrs ago'. LOL

She had 2 lvl fusion and shes say 'I have never looked back'...she is 80!

My wifes grandfather who is 85 had single level fusion in 1955. He was in a solid body cast for 6mths. I was talking to him today explaining how I was feeling. He said

' After I got out of hospital (3mths) I felt great then at about the 12mth mark I had alot of pain come back. I went to the doctor and said I think I have done something bad. The doc said , George you have had a major operation, your bodytakes along time to heal give it time'...

Just a couple of things that people have said to me over the last few days that have made me realise that even though these people had their ops a looonnggg time ago, they healed and have lived a fantastic live. IT may have taken a long time, but in these both instances they had great success.

I just have to learn to say no, not lift heavy things and try to relax a bit. Dont be afraid of taking pain medication if you need it and keep up at least a small amount of exercise. We may both be reasonabley young to have had an op like this but it means we have even more time to enjoy its benefits! Look forward to the time when you say to yourself ' Gee I my arm hasnt been sore today'

Personally I am only 10 weeks post a really serious op. I can roll on my side in bed. My arm has no weakness or pins and needles. I do have lingering pain which worries me but theres a long way to go yet and I'm still pretty confident :)

Anyway, thats my little rant for today *yawn* Midnight here in old Sydney town and I'm off to bed :)
Your thread was posted to my email as they do and I just had to say I concur. Some days I needed a 1/4 percocet and then three days later I realize I have had no meds and I have definitely not thought as much about the pain.

We all unfortunately want instant gratification like I know in so many other material aspects of my life and guess what...the body does take time...being a period of 14 months later Post surgery, I am still much better off for having had the surgery and maybe if I didn't have a bulge below to deal with I would be that much greater..

I guess what Craw is saying is what is the fact in our recovery...we all heal differently ...what sets off somebody would not be an issue for another....but I have had to believe and have found out for myself that removal of the disc whether eliciting less pain long term and being a safety factor for my spinal cord was definitely worth it.

Nero :bouncing:

ps plus you must at least walk to keep your back strong...even if you're on meds to do it....
Hi there craw!
I'm glad everything is improving for you. I am post op c4-c5 fusion w/ titanium cage. plate and screws.
I had pain in both arms, hands and upper back scapula area. The surgery fixed my left but I still have problem with my right. After discogram, I learned I have tears in two other discs along with a protrusion of one into spinal area.
I was rear ended which caused all my problems. I am now waiting til Feb. 2nd to see if a 2nd fusion is in order. I am glad I had the first as it rid me of pain in the left side. But like you, it took time. I still have a little pain every now and then in the left but not much. Although it could be from my other disc's.
I am now 9 months out of surgery. I was about 5 before the pain really subsided. If surgery will halt the pain of the right, I will have it done. Even through I may be fused at 2,3 or even 4 levels. It will be worth it. I am tired of the pain plus I am becoming depressed. I have 3 kids who I used to coach their ball teams, take em fishing, hunting, camping ect... Now I can only watch, if I can even go. So to have a fused neck will be well worth the trade to once again be the Dad and husband I once was.
Good luck bro! I hope you recover smoothly and quickly. ;)
Well I have had my first two physio appointments and they have been going well. In fact today after my second appt I actually feel very little arm pain........quite strange.

He is a fantastic Physio who gave me an excellent run down on the nerves, how they come out the neck and track through your shoulder and arm, why you can still feel nerve pain for quite a few months post op. Its been very interesting.

Apart from being given some neck streches to increase my flexability I have some 'nerve stretches' where I move my arm and shoulder in some wierd way to get the nerves sliding in their sheaves...or something along those lines :)

What has been facinating is that the physio was on the team of physio that supported the England Rugby Union team in the mid nineties. He told me about a rugby prop who had acdf and he was the physio that helped him post op for 12mths.

If you know Rugby Union you will know how unbelievable it is that this guy continued to play at the top of his sport as well as being a prop forward!... No helmets and neck guards here people :)

Edit: Do a search for Jason Leonard Welsh Rugby if your interested.

Anyway things seem to be progressing well. I do have intermittent arm pain but am enjoying physio and getting out a bit more:)
Hey Craw,

you lucked out as my chiro sounds like your physio guy. Integral to your own recovery is the ability to help yourself, ie. undertand just about as much as you can about the physiology of your body and what movements though sometimes painful are good pain tantamount to feeling better. I don't get out of bed without three lumbar movements of stretching open my spine, then I massage the low tummy muscles that get all tight guarding lumbar discs. and from there I sit on edge of bed and open up my shoulders and rib cage with an arm and shoulder/upper back stretch that feels great. Then if still half asleep i fall against the wall and holding my low back sacra iliac and the vertebrae transcending my low spine I slowly do a three kick back movement with each leg. This now takes me about a total of three to five minutes and sets my low back and neck up for the day so I can get on with my life. I treadmill 2 - 4 miles a day in two sessions generally and do resistance (air only) arm movements while walking on treadmill. I eat high energy power bars, juice a lot, high protein, glucosamine supplements and a nice glass of wine with dinner once in awhile.

I am one year and 3 months post op acdf plate own bone c5-6 and 9 months microdiskectomy l5 s1. I still have a bulge in c6-7 that flares up with too much activity and can be very painful but when it ceases I am a 6 out 10 and after living four years with incredible pain from spinal cord compression "life is pretty darn good". I just pray I don't have to have the bulge operated on but if it gets bad I am not afraid to do it,

You know what ..its amazing when you have the right people/profe's in your life to explain things it helps you gain an understanding that your plight is livable and tolerable even if its a roller coaster sometimes. I do have my Tylen 3 and Percocet, Amitrypylline and Torodal for the really rough moments but there is no one who can help me LIKE ME.

SO after much dissertation as noted above...you go buddy and listen to only the best advice and IT CAN GET BETTER....after all this is mechanical...although it seems like a sentence sometimes...you just have to learn to live with it and control what part of it, is controlable by you.

ALL THE BEST... keep inspiring us with YOUR GOOD NEWS :bouncing:

Nero :wave:
Hi Diane,

I had a sore throat for a few weeks post op. The sore throat however didnt appear until about 2 weeks. This co-incided with my voice dissapearing. It all came good after a few weeks.

I had some minor numbness around incision but nothing too much.
What you are explaining seems common. Both in voice, throat and numbness. The nerves are all strectched when they open you up and we all recovery differently. All 3 should resolve over time. If the numbness doesnt improve I would be seeing your NS about it. Nerves however can take 6-9mth to fully recover from what I know so it may take some time. I think as long as you see some improvement when you look back over the weeks then you are heading in the right direction.

Please dont overdo it ! Even though you are feelinig great you need to take it easy :) I know how hard it is, but you got to rest up. Also, when you have a bad day dont get discouraged. Always look back over a week to see if you have progressed. Dont think that just because you had a bad day yesterday means your going backwards.

The first 6 weeks for me was a roller coaster ride of feeling fantastic one day and not so great the next, but I did steadily progress.

Sounds like your op was a great success and hope your recovery continues the same way :)
Well its coming up to 6 mths post op. Hasnt time flown! Well I have to say I am continuing to improve. I have days now were I forget I even had the operation.

I havnt had to have any form of pain killers for over a mth now which is great. I still havnt ramped up any physical activity till after my next appt in June.

Its been a long haul but I am definetly feeling like it was all worthwhile. I still do have some intermittent pain, but it really isnt affecting things and when it is there isnt to any serious degree.

I guess my next hurdle is when I can get more active and how my body reacts to that. Looking forward to it :)

Good to hear you are feeling better Rob and I hope it continues. Fatherhood has been great here as well :)
Rob, sry for the late reply. The little one has been keeping me busy :) My voice is back to 100%. On the leg symptoms, no i didnt have any problems in that area.

The one thing I do notice at the moment is the shoulder pain that is hangin around. Wierd thing is , is that I dont think its related to neck. In that its sore when I move it and stretch it out. Not sure if its related/brought on by or completly unrelated. Symptoms do go into top of arm so its kind of confusing.

Anyway will check during my next NS appt next month, but dont anticipate any probs.

Hope all is going well for you.

Cheers
Paul

Edit: Oh I have a workmate who is going in for C5/6 ADR at Dalcross (30th May) on Northside. 3rd Generation ADR, reckon he will be back at work in 2 weeks ?!? I will post how he goes.......
Wow, 7 months gone.

Went for my final...yes final checkup today and all is well. My pain is almost completley gone. Most days I forget all about the operation.

I do have some residual pain in my shoulder but I dont believe its related to the neck and stretching seems to help.

I have been given the go ahead to now increase my physical excercise. I havnt done anything for about 9 mths so I have to get myself to take things slow.

I look back on the last 7 mths as quite a journey but one that has been well worth it.

Even though I dont post alot I check back weekly and read through the posts, good luck to you Solar and I hope things work out for you.

Hope things are going well for you Rob and things have moved away from the surgical option.

fyi, my friend at work had the prestige disc installed 2 weeks ago. he is expected back on Monday!! What a diff, 3mths or 2 weeks. I look forward to seeing how he is. I spoke to him from hospital and he had instant relief of symptoms and everything appeared to go well.

I feel I am now entering a new stage of where I will see how my body reacts to the increased activity. I will see how i go..........

cheers all.
Paul
Ok well almost 11 mths gone !. Wow, time flys and I have to say I am feeling great. I am starting to ramp up on the excerise and although at times my shoulder gets a bit sore from use everything is fantastic.

I have no more drs, no more physio and just look forward to getting a bit fitter. 11mths not doing much has meant the fitness has dropped alot.

I feel like I have full mobility in neck although I am sure theres some reduction there. The scar is only just visible mostly but does get quite red at times, no biggy.

I have done some extensive travel OS which I could never have done 11mths ago.

Anyway I shall drop in on my 12mths anniversary and give a big update on how a year of post op ACDF has gone.

Cheers!
Paul
Paul

I am so glad to see you posted. I had the same symptoms and surgery that you did on December 15th of 2005. It was so helpful to read your thread through from beginning to end. I was hoping you would come back so I could say thanks. There are so many surgeries that don't go well so it was great to read your experience.

I am now 5 weeks post surgery. I am an avid golfer and tennis player. Although I have no pain at all and haven't since the surgery, I am really nervous riding in car, and wonder if I can ever play tennis again. My surgeon is so conservative that he won't let me drive until I am totally weaned off collar which is happening now. He says golf is 90 - 180 days post surgery. I'm glad to hear you say it was 8 months before everything felt normal. What about flying? I worry about turbulence and the jostling of loading bags in overhead etc.

I hope you will check in again.

Best regards
Jane
Paul

Thanks so much for your post. And you are right----when you feel good, there is the temptation to forget you are only a short time from surgery.

It seems to me that there is a huge disparity between doctors I found one great web site called neck surgery.com which poses the same questions to recognized orthos and neurosurgeons. Like, "when can I drive?" Some say in two weeks and mine who is on there says six weeks. It seems like that my NS and yours are from the same school.:) Neck collar for six weeks, no driving for a while. Take time going back to work. The only difference I see was that you had a grapht from your hip and I had donor graft.

One question....did you have any numbness at all? I have absolutely no pain but my pointer finger is slightly numb. I'll take this any day though all things considered.

Thanks for input on travel. My doctor is okay with me flying after February 1. To be honest I'm glad to be off planes. I have flown 2 to 3 days a week for many years so it is good to have some of my employees do the traveling now.

What did surprise me was that I am not to start physical therapy until I'm weaned off the brace and he would prefer for me to not get a massage until I'm weaned as well....just doesn't want someone doing deep body work on spine. You are right....better safe than sorry.

I'm sure you appreciate in retrospect how fast time flies....you probably have a baby about to turn one. That does put things into perspective, doesn't it.?

Best
Jane :)
Thanks Souffoue, I know when I was trying to decide on whether to have the op or not I was a bit down about the fact that I wasnt reading many positve posts.

I figured that if all went well then the last thing you want to do is remind yourself of the experience and post threads on the net!

I really feel for those whos experience hasnt been all that great, but at the same time I think its important for people to see that there are real long term positive stories where people have returned to an active lifestyle.

I hope my story brings some encouragement to people who are recovering from the operation and some hope to those who are still deciding.





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