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What levels are being fused?

I had C5-C7 which is a 2 level fusion (C5-C6 and C6-C7) ACDF. The hospital stay is short, usually 1-2 nights. And I was glad my doctor prescribed a cervical collar which I was fitted with before my surgery. This was a relatively easy surgery.

At home I did use a bed wedge. They discourage you from laying down all the time and a hospital bed would be an expensive option. With a 15" bed wedge I was able to sleep somewhat with a combination of pillows. Prepare for pain meds with something you can eat easily when you take the medication. I often took it with rice krispie treats and this averted any nausea. Zofran is newer than compazine so you can always ask to have that prescribed for at home. What I needed most at home was a muscle relaxant. I doubt you will be able to use a TENS near your neck in the early recovery.

Moving around after ACDF was quite easy. The biggest mistake I made was not moving around enough so as soon as allowed (about 1 week after) I started with 5 minutes on the treadmill at 1 mph. I increased the time by 1 minute a day. When I reached 10 minutes I increased the speed by a small increment. I always stopped whenever I had pain instead of pushing myself.

I had a grabber at home (can be purchased at any large pharmacy) which helped me pick up stuff that was out of reach. I've used it over and over since as I also have lumbar and knee issues.
I just typed up a big response to you when the WiFi died. So let me know if I leave anything out I should have mentioned.

The bedwedge is awesome. If you are married/living with a partner you'll likely want to sleep alone. I was up at unpredictable hours wanting the TV on, etc.

I bought the pre-packaged rice krispie treats. There was something about the density of them and they also could be kept in the night stand for easy access.

I woke up with a scratchy throat. The nurses gave me cepacol lozenges, I had hubby buy a box as well so I could stop asking the nurses for one every time I wanted one. They served me a normal dinner and the nurse urged me to cut up stuff small and eat. She felt that making the swallowing mechanism work soon after surgery helps get it back into normal functioning. She said people who spend days on soft foods like popsicles, jello, etc aren't "challenging" the swallowing and the mechanism can become less responsive. I managed to down a steak in tiny bites and she was right. I felt better after making my system start swallowing again.

Will you have a cervical collar? Mine was fitted for me 2-3 wk before surgery. Some surgeons don't use them feeling the hardware gives enough support but I always felt that it helped me not move in the wrong way, support my muscles, not have my head fall to the side while sleeping, not turning my neck (as in forgetting I just had surgery and hearing hubby drop something behind me, I couldn't just whip the head around to see what had fallen). So ask if he'll prescribe on. If not some people buy one at a medical supply store or pharmacy. I used mine 24 hr a day (besides showering) for about 4 weeks. After that he let me take it off for short periods. Some docs say that using one causes neck muscles to get weak but I could still tell my muscles had to work enough to stay active in the collar.

Ask if you will have a bone growth stimulator. Most common cervical version hangs around the neck with a battery pack. It produces a small electrical field to aid in fusion. Some ins companies wont approve it and my current spine doc says he feels it can't hurt but it's not a "must have".

Consider telling the doctor to fix whatever he may find when he gets in there. When my prior orth spine surgeon said my C4 was "iffy" we never discussed possibly adding it in, and now it should have been. I was headed for an ACDF revision this Fall when my bad knee got worse and at 45 am having a knee replacement. (Don't let my surgical history worry you, I have very lax ligaments and tendons so joints from spine to knees to feet to hands get too loose and some have to be fixed surgically).

If you can walk outside that's as good as a treadmill. I live in Phoenix and had my ACDF in late May. By then it's already 100 degrees every day and walking outside wasn't an option. Make sure somebody walks with you especially early on. You never realize how much you look down when walking or typing until you have a collar on. I thought I was the worlds fastest typist but I guess I glance down more than I thought so typing was hard.

If you have the searing nerve pain in arms/hands that is common for people heading for an ACDF you may find you have significant relief upon waking. However some pain takes a long time to go away as nerves heal VERY slowly and thus pain improvement can be a slow process.

I returned to work 6 weeks post op and it was hard, more due to exhaustion than neck pain, though 4 hr into the day I needed to go home so I did a gradual return to work (now due to other problems I no longer work). I'd say after the ACDF I finally felt decent at 2-3 months. I even changed jobs in August after the May ACDF and the only reason I felt okay doing so was how my neck was feeling better every day.
Too bad we don't live closer. I'd use the hospital bed after you as I have knee replacement 9/28.

You probably won't need the hospital bed though, please ask your doc for his opinion. My guess is he'll expect you to be up and around soon and say you shouldn't need the bed. The times it has been needed by people here is they can't get in/out of bed such as a waterbed with no guest bed option. As long as you have the bed wedge and a comfortable enough bed you should be fine. This isn't a lay in bed and recover surgery, it's more of be up as much as you can. And getting in/out of bed wasn't even a concern for me as it was just as easy as normal. Keep in mind if you get a hospital bed it has to be the fully electric one or it's not worth it. Many home modesl aren't as sophisticated in movement such as bed height .

A better bet is a reclining chair that hits your neck at the right point. Many people here have done that and sleep in recliner at night and sit in it during the day. The expectation is you'll get up every morning and find a comfy place to sit/recline during the day. I spent my days in the family room ina reclining chair. Maybe start a thread here of "Recliner or Hosp Bed at home after ACDF" to get thoughts of other members.

If your STD is a policy via your employer and you'll be filing a claim thru an insurance company (or a third party administrator) they will approve you for 6 weeks from the date of surgery. Then anything beyond that will require objective medical proof to extend STD (I was in that business for over 15 yr and help out many people with disability claims questions, process questions, and even SS questions for those out of work an extended period of time on the Disabilities board here)

So after the surgery if anything comes up that slows your recovery discuss it with your doctor and with STD. For example, I had a claim once where we approved 3 mo after a lumbar fusion and the person couldn't return to work due to a fact that was never in the records or in a discussion, she had achrondoplasic dwarfism. That had resulted in many joint problems and pain. She eventually returned to work at about 6 mo. If you have other medical symptoms or diagnoses that affect recovery let them know. When I had a second neck surgery they initially approved me for 6 wk but it was extended to 8 wk as my 3 person office had become a 2 person office and my coworker was on vacation right as I was set to return. The manager in another state asked for 2 additional weeks as he didn't want me working alone, handling huge files without assistance, etc. Since my work had temporarily been moved to Texas (where my new manager was) he didn't see the logic in hiring a Temp (as STD suggested to get me back to work) to asssist me for 2 wk when his staff was already handling my work.

So up front let STD and surgeon know of any other conditions you have that may impede recovery speed such as other joint arthritis, diabetes, MS, etc. And if anything happens after surgery such as infection, additional surgery (related or not), etc elt your surgeon know ASAP and STD as well. Often it's the surgeon's medical assistant or nurse completing paperwork (with doc reviewing and signing) so find out who does disability paperwok next week and make friends with that person. My spine surgeon's MA is a lifesaver for me.

IF by some chance your employer does the STD inside the company, then often less medcical proof is needed for extending STD.

In either case tell the doc you expect 8 wk out and if doing well sooner you can always have him release you sooner.
Sandy....you shouldn't need or even use a hospital bed at home. It is very important to get up and be moving around so you heal faster. Even I was up and walking around 2 days after surgery and I was a 6 level. Never used or needed a hospital bed at home.

You'll have a neck brace on and it is quite easy to get up out of bed with the brace on. The brace will keep your neck safe. No need to have a bed that you put up in order to get out of bed.

You are having surgery from the front and the people I've talked to have told me that it is relatively painless surgery in comparison to others. Yes, you have an incision in your neck but there isn't any pulling on the incision as you have a brace holding your neck in the position the doc wants.

Having had over 30 surgeries, it is so important to get up and move around so you don't get clots in your legs or post-op pneumonia. And it speeds healing so much to have you up and moving around. Even when I was having major complications, I was up and being walked around the ward to keep anything else away. And SpineAZ....you'll find that you can't use the knee lift part of the bed after TKR...you REALLY have to watch for clots.

I used my recliner when up so I could sleep in a chair if I was too tired to go back to bed but was cautioned about using the leg rest in case of pressure causing clots. SpineAZ suggested a wedge pillow but I found that not to work as it pushed on my neck brace. I never, with either surgery, needed anything other than my own bed...and sometimes, that is the best place to rest....like getting back into your own nest. Sleep does not come easy with pain meds in you.

Please don't waste time, money or energy looking for a bed you won't need. Instead, put it into making food ahead so you can eat well and recover fast. And get a bottle of Vit. B Complex in...B is needed for optimum nerve performance and it helps them to heal faster. And some Vit. A cream for the scar...I used fresh aloe as well and both help.

Knowing I may be headed for surgery I am already doing what I now know I needed to do before my others...cleaning the floors and getting all junk up and off the floors. It's hard to see the floor with the brace on and I kept tripping on stuff left on the floor by hubby(or cats). Slipped on newspapers he left in a pile that fell over and almost killed me! Get rid of throw rugs for that period of time too. Try walking around with your head held high and see what you can't see on the floor so you know what has to be cleared. No one warned me about that.

And since bending over is a problem, having food made ahead is wonderful. Portable food stuff you can eat and drink in bed or wherever you happen to be sitting is good. I moved the microwave up to eye level rather than lower so I could see what was cooking and if it was done.....it's hard to bend down and see.

And if you really want to get something...get a stool for the shower so you can sit and relax in the water once the stitches are out. It feels so good but you may be tired.

If you have a soft collar at home, put it on and then imagine it being higher up and then see what you can do and what you can't. That will tell you what you need to do ahead of time...but buying a hospital bed is not one of them. Save the money for the bills. You'll have them.

hugs............Jenny





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