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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

I had a 2-level ACDF (5/6 & 6/7) on Feb. 7th. I had suffered for years and years with the back & neck pain, so the surgery pain was a breeze to get over. The only pain I've really had is in my neck & shoulder where the nerves and muscles are getting back to normal. I've had some tingling and a little numbness, but that was said to be expected as things recover.

I was told under no circumstances to "B-L-T" (bend, lift, twist/turn) and to limit picking up anything over 2-5 lbs. (A gallon of milk weighs more!) This far out into recovery, I'm still with the same instructions until my next visit.

My doctor put me in a Philadelphia collar (the big, ugly hard one) and I was told to wear it unless showering, 24/7. On my 4 week visit, I was told that I could go to a soft collar, but it didn't offer enough support (was having a lot of neck spasms) and I had to go back to the hard collar most days and sleep in the soft collar. On my 8 week visit, I was told to continue to wear the hard collar and sleep in the soft one. I was also told to limit all activity until told otherwise - walking is okay, but no "B-L-T" yet. (I don't work outside the home, so 'going back to work' just means no loading/unloading the dishwasher, laundry, cooking, etc. and the doctor specified all that.)

I made a list of the things that I wish I'd known before the surgery. My husband has been absolutely WONDERFUL and none of this was a problem, but it would have been helpful to know beforehand:

Prepare to sleep in a recliner for a while (I couldn't lay down with the darn hard collar on!)
[*]Hand-held shower
[*]Mild (baby) shampoo, because it's going to get in your eyes!
[*]Smaller than normal toothbrush (can't open mouth as wide)
[*]Mild toothpaste (My mouth was terribly sore)
[*]Flexible drinking straws for everything!
[*]Something handy to deposit used toothpaste/water into (can't bend over at the sink)
[*]Soft, easy-to-eat foods
[*]Juice, etc. in small, easy to open containers - some twist-off ones aren't so easy!
[*]Keep the portable phone nearby and don't forget to put it on the charger at night
[*]Throat lozenges
[*]Paper tape (for sensitive skin)
[*]Gauze pads

My hubby also found the company (on the internet) that makes material liners for the Philly collar. That was a lifesaver! The collar gets hot and smelly in a hurry. Before we had the liner, he scrubbed it every night with a mild cleaner and dried it with the blow dryer after my shower. (Told you he was wonderful!)

I'm doing great, but still am not doing much of anything other than holding down my recliner and the tv remote, and I take a daily walk when the mosquitoes aren't so bad. (I'm in the deep south!) I wish I'd had this surgery done years ago!!

Good luck and let us know how you are doing! Sorry this post was so long!! :)

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