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[QUOTE=acdfouch]And the NS office nurse called back.

She was dumbfounded and had no real advice for me. Just said some people need more time than others and perhaps I was mistaking pain for tingles. [/QUOTE]

That made me laugh out loud, because my orthopedic surgeon's nurse has the exact same reaction to every symptom I report. Stunned, STUNNED I TELL YOU! that I could possibly be experiencing actual pain.

Posting in this thread because I like it, and would feel lonely out front. =)

I'm just over two months post-surgery. I wore a collar for two weeks, then was back on the job - the job being "sitting around for 8-12 hours a day", so it wasn't anything more strenuous than I'd get at home. Possibly less! =) My two week and 1.5 month x-rays have shown that fusion is proceeding as it should. I don't smoke, don't drink, don't do drugs. I was doing a ton of walking at first, but when my chest pains started, I quit for a while to find out what was going on. I'm trying to get back into it now that I have an all-clear from the GP.

My pain was hard to regulate, enough so that it kept me in the hospital an extra day while they figured out that the only drug that helped my pain before the surgery (oxycontin) was also the only drug that helped my pain after the surgery. But it was all pain I "recognized" at first as being related to having someone cut me open and poke around in my neck. The pain I'd gone in for - intense shoulder pain on the left side by the shoulderblade, just at the point of my shoulder, and slowly radiating down my left pain - was gone when I woke up and hasn't come back.

Weirdly, my pain got better up to a point - about a month ago. And then it changed and started getting worse. I must have called the nurse and the surgeon a hundred times asking them, "Is this normal? Is this supposed to feel this way?" and each time they were surprised, but said yes, it was normal, and I'd get better, give it time.

Specifically, the new pain is in my upper back - pretty much all of it - and in my chest wall. if I lean forward, my breastbone and right ribs hurt. If I lean back, pain shoots through every muscle from mid-back to the base of my neck. It's like I have no muscle strength at all anywhere in there anymore, so anything requiring the slightest support of my head - anything that pulls me slightly off balance - hurts. (btw, thanks for the description of what a "spasm" may actually feel like - I kept thinking my muscles would need to be twitching to have one, but apparently just incredible tension and achiness is also on the menu.)

My neck feels fine. I don't have any pain in the area where the surgery occurred, and no pain in the incision area (which is almost all healed up now - visible but not broken at all). I have a wide range of motion - I can look at my ceiling without pain, and from side to side about as much as I remember doing before. It's just that my entire torso *aches*.

I've started PT, and I'm really hoping that will help. I had to pretty much bully my surgeon into prescribing it. I'm on for a month of it, twice a week, until my next appointment with the surgeon where we'll re-evaluate.

For those of you who have gone to PT - did they test your upper back strength? My guy had me lie down on my stomach and hold my arms out to each side. Then he said, "I'm going to push down; try not to let me move your arms." But the second he touched them I folded - I literally had no strength to resist at all. I imagine that's part of what's causing the pain?

What I'm not getting is -- how could my muscles atrophy so much in *two weeks* (the time I was in the collar)? I had some pain pre-surgery, a lot of it actually, but only in two specific areas.

On the other hand... I never had an injury. The pain I had pre-surgery I've had for years and years, and always wrote off as "sleeping wrong". It would hurt a bit then go away. Only this last time it hurt like hell and didn't go away, and they carted me off to surgery after an MRI showed trouble at two levels. So maybe the weakness was always there, but now the muscles are trying to protect the area and don't have the strength for it?

My GP says the chest wall pain could be costochondritis brought about by the position they have you in during surgery - kind of butterflied, so they can get at your neck better. Unfortunately the only useful treatment for that is anti-inflammatories, which I can't take because I'm still fusing. Bah! =)

Other things that I've loved in this thread? The description of what this surgery can do to your *brain*. I read the pamphlets going in, the ones that tell you that minor depression afterwards is normal. I had no idea they'd mean THIS. I've turned into a total hypochondriac; every new symtpom has me convinced I'm dying. The chest pain was the worst of all - heart attack! CANCER! something awful, anyway, and I was convinced for days. It took negatives on a chest x-ray and ekg to convince me I wasn't about to keel over.

I live in an apartment with beautiful lake and city views, but have to close the blinds at night because the skyline - distant and dark - is too *depressing* for me. I went into this surgery with an almost obnoxiously cheerful personality and came out of it fighting to keep myself from descending into despair on a regular basis. It helps to know I'm not the only one out there predicting doom every time her fingers get tingly. (I did, for a brief period, think I had Parkinson's disease because my head would twitch minutely when I got really tired or cold. Doom!) I still have my sense of humor, thank god, but it's getting twice the work-out I normally give it. When you've had a heart attack, cancer, Parkinson's, and MS -- all in the same day -- a good sense of humor is imperative!

Anyway, mainly I wanted to post because I'm so relieved to finally find a place where people are talking about this stuff, and to know I'm not all by myself in it. I think my recovery is probably fairly normal at this point, but it's scary and lonely and weird, so reading this thread has been great for me.

And if anyone wants to tell me about how they also had chest and back pains and after a few months they went away... that would be okay, too! =)
I wanted to read your entire note this morning before I responded.

First - I can't say how great it is to hear that someone else was able to find some comfort and information in my thread. REALLY makes me feel good!

As for the chest stuff... I've had it prior to my surgery... it's the chosto related stuff... It comes in waves for me.. Some days, I have it. Some days, not so much. And I don't have a great tolerance for motrin either so I have to "live with it". I do find that a heating pad - 10 min, 10 min off does seem to help. For whatever reason, ice does not! It is an inflammation so ... I would suggest trying that... But careful of the ice.

And in regards to the neck muscles.... I would say that is quite common to have a muscular pain right square in the middle at the base of the skull that goes down about.... Mmm... 1/4 of your back?

It's not fun, but that particular thing is fading away on me too.

I'll have to do a quick update later today.

It's been a pretty good few days since my last post... Went to NY to see GNR... Didn't groove my head too much to the music... But, I was able to go which was a big step for me.

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