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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board


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Hi Folks,

I've been lurking on the board for a while now, reading people's stories and in general learning what I was going to deal with in my surgery. So, now that it's done, I wanted to relate my experiences to the board and perhaps help someone else.

My name is John, I live in Denver, Colorado and in May of 2002 I had an MRI and met with a Neurosurgeon to talk about an ongoing cervical disc condition which had flared up significantly the previous month. In short, my Doctor showed my wife and I the MRI and indicated his recommendation for Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion for levels C5/C6/C7.

I am 46 years old, non-smoker, 240 lb, 6'2" Male with no significant health problems besides the herniated discs.

One of the worst parts about preparing for the surgery was that I wasn't scheduled until 8/14 and in the 4 months between diagnoses and surgery, I actually wasn't feeling too bad. I was starting to fear whether the surgery was necessary and was thinking maybe I would heal without it. My symptoms were left arm pain with numbness in the first two fingers and thumb. At night I sometimes had pain in my shoulder blades.

So, I quit taking all pain medications about 2 weeks before surgery and by the time the drugs wore off I was really in pain... guess I still need that surgery! I had just learned how to manage my pain really well through prescription drugs.

On Wednesday, August 14th I was rolled into the pre-op assessment area at which point a cast of hundreds came by and each took my vitals and asked questions about my surgical history. The anesthesiologist came by and we discussed how I have mild sleep Apnea, so they would keep my on oxygen immediately post-op to make sure it didn't cause a problem.

At about 8:00 am I was rolled into surgery. The anesthesiologist told me he was starting the IV with the general and that I would be intubated for the operation to keep the bruising down and help me breathe.

My Dr. firmly believes in the benefits of Autograft bone for the fusion, so the operation took a total of 4 hours including the incision an removal of bone from my Iliac crest. They went in through my right-front lower neck with a horizontal cut about 3 inches long. The Dr. put a titanium plate around the 3 vertebrae at c5/c6/c7 with 6 screws.

I awoke in recovery about 5 hours after surgery began and stayed there about another hour while they watched me and slowly brought me around. I have absolutely no recollection of "going under" or waking up for that matter

Dr. Colapinto (great Dr., highly recommend )used a purpleish glue to seal the incision in my neck and staples (11 of them) to seal the 4 inch incision in my right hip. Everything went to spec and I was talking to my wife and mother later that afternoon in good spirits.

By the next morning I was walking around and actually felt pretty good, so they sent me home about noon. I was in the hospital a total of 30 hours. Stopped by the hospital pharmacy on the way home and got some Percocet for pain.

I know this is pretty darn long-winded, but I want to tell it front to back so that other folks will get an idea before their surgery -- after I got home, I walked around a bit more and started to get sore, so I laid down and took a nap. In short, I felt the operation was a success and I was on the road to healing. Some thoughts:

* The neck brace is a pain in the butt, but it's only 6 weeks, right?

* The incision in my hip is not as painful as I thought it would be -- maybe I got lucky!

* I bought 4 bags of ludens cough drops before surgery -- essential! you will need something to help soothe your throat the first 2 days.

* I still have problems sleeping laying down flat -- I have to sleep elevated about 20-30 degrees.

* The neck incision is slightly tender, but for all practical purposes does not hurt at all.

* My numbness and pain in my left arm and back are gone! After the operation the Dr. came by and said he thought my herniated disc was "Most Impressive" -- he seemed rather excited about it

* Taking showers is a bit tedious because of the hip bandage, but I can do pretty much whatever I want.

* I have an appointment this Thursday to take the 11 staples out of my hip and my followup x-ray is 6 weeks after the surgery to verify fusion.

So, sorry about the length of this message, just want to help -- everything is better after the surgery, I would not hesitate to do it again.

Take care,
John

[This message has been edited by johnspierce (edited 08-20-2002).]

[This message has been edited by johnspierce (edited 08-20-2002).]

[This message has been edited by johnspierce (edited 08-20-2002).]

[This message has been edited by johnspierce (edited 08-20-2002).]






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