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I'm having acdf surgery and I'm SOOO scared!

I'm having acdf surgery for c-6 c-7 on July 13th and I'm scared out of my mind. I'm scared about being on a PC pump.  Im scared about the not being able to swallow. I'm scared about wearing a soft collar and not getting comfy for sleeping.  Im scared about recovery In general. So many times I've almost cancelled this because I'm scared.
i know everyone recovers differently and  at their own pace. 
Thanks for reading!
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Comments

  • littlelorinda29llittlelorinda29 VaPosts: 18
    edited 07/29/2019 - 12:51 PM

    Moderator said:
    its normal to be scared before surgery, right up to the night before.

    i had two acdfs 1994 and 2000 for c4/c5/c6/c7.  so i have a multilevel fusion with a titanium plate and screws.
    for both of my surgeries, i went home with a hard philadelphia collar.  i had to wear that 24x7 for 6 weeks.
    but today, i have realtively zero impacts from this surgery.  i have a limited range of motion moving left to right.
    for driveing, i need to compensate with an over sized mirror

    i would have this surgery any time to reduce the pain.  for me, the acdf was the most successful surgery


    acdf details
    thank you so much for your kind words and support. your experience sounds like a positive one. it's scary reading these forums and hearing issues that come from having surgery.
    i had my preop appt today and i chickened out. i postponed it for 2 months. 
    thank you again
  • Oh my why ? Can you share your symptoms ? Is it safe to delay your action ? I can tell you I am currently recovering from my 3 rd cervical spine surgery. I had two surgeries within a year apart and I know that after going through a surgery each time got harder, but looking back now 8 weeks post-op and pain free, I am sorry I let fear hold me back.

    Remember everyone recovers differently and each struggle is not the same. Use this site as a guide to find more answers to your questions, but also follow it up with documented studies of treatment solutions. Ask your professionals question to help guide you in the right direction. I hope your fear subsides or your find a solution to relief your discomfort.

    Good Luck ~

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  • The longer you put it off, the more time you have to get yourself worked up over it. I had two level ACDF just over 2 months ago. When I woke up from surgery, I could lift my arms over my head, talk, walk, etc. I was slightly horse and had a very mild sore throat from the intubation but it was gone in less than 24 hours. I didn't have a pc pump. Pain wasn't an issue. I had a soft collar but just had to wear it in the car and when walking outside. For the first few days, I slept in a recliner with one of those neck travel pillow. Get bendy straws! The worst thing for me was feeling a light pressure in my throat due to swelling and the hardware. That lasted about six weeks. It didn't hurt, just felt weird. lol

    So, get it done if you need it. You'll be glad it's over with and will be able to start feeling better. :-) best of luck to you. 
  • Good luck with your surgery tomorrow. I am also on my second multilevel ACDF surgery 12 weeks post op. Its ok to be scared, but trust me when I say its in ur best interest to try and calm yourself as much as possible be
  • Before you go under because you wake up feeling scared and it will affect your hospital stay. I am speaking from experience. Good luck I will be thinking of you tomorrow.
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  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340
    Good luck tomorrow, let us know how it goes and ask us when you have questions.

    So many of the things that you are worried about are normal to worry about.  But in the end won't be so bad.  Collar and sleeping, as long as you don't focus your mind on that, you will sleep because you will be tired.  Throat, yes you may feel some discomfort  but it isn't really that bad, just keep water and throat lozenges handy.


    Recovery, well yes we all worry about that because we all recover a bit different, so nobody can tell you exactly how your recovery will be - but probably it will be better than you expect.
  • Well! I chickened out. I couldn't do it!!! My symptoms have eased in the arm and the fingers but the headaches, neck aches, scapula pain, shoulder pain is relentless! I'm gonna give it 2 more months! 

    Thank you all so much for your positive perspective on my situation. I really appreciate everyone that has chimed in for support. I will keep my post updated as too what happens. 
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340

    Well, that surprised me!

    You can't undo surgery, but you can undo chickening out.  I was at peace with surgery because I knew tat I had done my best to avoid it, but still needed it.

    Good luck

  • Hi littlelor, 

    I am also having I  acdf c5-c7 soon.  I am also worried about a million things that could happen.  I am tired of the pain, the muscle stiffness, headaches and arm pain.  I hope everything goes well for you and you don't need surgery but with your symptoms, I believe all this cervical garbage will rear its ugly head again. 

    dmo

  • Bruce Eitman said:

    Well, that surprised me!

    You can't undo surgery, but you can undo chickening out.  I was at peace with surgery because I knew tat I had done my best to avoid it, but still needed it.

    Good luck

    Thank you Bruce! I think the Rn said it best. Let your body guide you. I have a 6wk fu in August!! We shall see!!!

  • dmo said:
    Hi littlelor, 

    I am also having I  acdf c5-c7 soon.  I am also worried about a million things that could happen.  I am tired of the pain, the muscle stiffness, headaches and arm pain.  I hope everything goes well for you and you don't need surgery but with your symptoms, I believe all this cervical garbage will rear its ugly head again. 

    dmo
    Thanks dmo! I have a feeling your right! It probably won't dissolve. And probably by sept I'll be tired of my pain too. 
    Good luck to you and your surgery! When is it? Be sure to keep us posted on your progress! 
  • Update:  I'm 4 mos out from acdf c6/7 and I will say It was the easiest surgery I've ever had. After surgery it did take a few weeks for my arm pain to resolve. But I could feel my arm strength was back. I also continued to have spasms for almost a month. And I still get some numbness in my last 2 fingers. The one thing I could do was hug my 6 yr old son really tight! The best feeling ever. 

    i didn't do much during my recovery but about 2 month post op I was feeling better and I decided to do a load of laundry. WRONG MOVE! I had a flare up and it took about a week to settle down. I also had another flare up a few weeks ago from trying to shut a door on a really windy day. We thought I had pinched the nerve above my surgery. MRI said no additional pinched nerves. All muscular.. big sigh! And it has settled down. 

    So I just caution that the things that were simple before my take a little longer to do soon after surgery!  I just have to do it differently. 

    I was scared for no reason. 

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 3,491
    Thanks so much for your update!
    It is so good to hear you are doing so well!
  • I had a four level acdf ( c3-c7 ) 4 weeks ago. Understand your concerns but gotta tell you,  I had less discomfort and pain after surgery. Did have difficulty swallowing for several weeks but it is worth it for the long term relief. I took oral pain meds for a week, did not have to wear a collar, soft or otherwise, started physical therapy at the 10 day mark. The surgery site is nearly invisible already. Had several migraines per week prior to surgery and have not had one since surgery.  I would do it again in a heart beat. 
  • Hi Jodee,

    Great to hear you are doing so well.  Wish I could say the same.  I am five months out from surgery.  The surgery itself was not so bad, took pain meds and muscle relaxers for about a month four times a day.  I backed off to two to three times a day now.  After two months I thought I would fully recover.  At three months all my old symptoms returned.  I now have neck pain, arm pain and shoulder blade pain.  Nothing really new, its just I thought surgery would fix my pain.  I really wish I had not had surgery as I hurt as much now as before. 

    To make matters worse I now have a compression fracture of my T-10 vertebra.  I am waiting to see if Neurosurgeon wants to do kyphoplasty.  When I had my last mri, because I was having so much lower back pain, I learned I now have a bulging disc at L-4 L5.  It is compressing root nerve on right side.  I also did flex and extend xrays on cervical spine and was told now my C4 disc does not line up with my two level fusion.  It is call spondylolithasis.  That may be why I still have neck issues. 

    Again I am glad you are doing well along with others here.  I just wish I was also.

  • Dmo- man! I'm sorry to hear your struggling. Maybe all your old symptoms came back b/c of the c-4 issue.

    Sometimes it seriously feels like you can't catch a break! I know this isn't about me but I just had a 4 compartment fasciotomy along with a nerve decompression in my lower leg 7 weeks ago. I limped and had a crazy gait for 2 years. So suddenly my body wants to try and rebalance and walk normal strides....WRONG!!! I somehow get  posterior tibial Tendonitis in my good foot/leg.... Are you kidding me right now.

    The struggle is real! Hang in there and please keep us posted. I would love to hear how all this plays out for you. And remember somewhere someone else might be having this same speed bump as you right now. And to be able to read this forum and feel  gratification that they are not the only one speaks volumes. 

    Nickil- So glad your experience has been a positive one. 
  • Hey Jodee,

    Did you have fasciotomy to relieve compartment syndrome?  I know it can also be a limb saving procedure.  Wow to you too!!   What is weird for me is during the day my back actually hurts more than my neck.  I take my pain pills for that.  At night when I go to bed if I lie flat on my back I get good lumbar pain relief.  Then my neck starts hurting causing  stabbing pain into my left shoulder blade.  This is my third time out on disability from work.  I am just waiting to lose my job soon.  The last few years are just the worst of my life pain wise.  I am just not the same person.  I might be looking  at another two surgeries.  Not sure I can take that. 

    I get up about an hour after I go to bed from pain.  It is usually about three or four in the morning before I get about three hours of sleep.  That usually comes from complete exhaustion.  Anyway, I am glad others are doing well and I hope you continue to get better also.

    dmo

  • Dmo- We thought CECS. But my numbers came back normal. I would get strange swelling above my ankle and in my anterior tib muscle along with nerve pain down my keg.. My MRI finally  showed a hernia in my anterior tib muscle. So doc did 4 compartment fasciotomy along with peroneal nerve release. What we thought was a hernia was actually a thinner than usual fascia. And my peroneal nerve was riding high on my tib bone and stuck in scar tissue from my 1st surgery. So the surgeon moved it to a more textbook path. And now it's just a waiting game. Will the nerve pain in my leg stay or go...

    I'm sure you have considered a 2nd opinion. The quality of life can  really grab you and pull you down. I know. I've been dealing with this leg nerve issue for 2 years. Like you I've been unable to work for 2 yrs. We have a 6yr old that's very active and I can barely muster up the confidence to get him to school some days. I told my husband it's like my brain says do this and this but when I start to be on my feet my leg pain grabs me and says no, no, no!!! 

    Do you see a pain management doc?  I'ts been suggested that I start seeing one. Also I've started seeing a pain management phycologist to try and get my head in a better place. I don't know if your down for that but the focus is a little different than oh lets talk about your problems. Sessions focus on pain, coping with pain, the anxiety that come with pain Etc... 
     Hang in there!
  • Jodee,

    All your leg issues sound horrible.  It makes my head spin just to think about it.  Is all your pain nerve pain?  What pain meds do you take?  You don't say to much about your cervical issues anymore. 

    I know what you mean about pain just pulling you down.  I get up some days and just have no zest for life.  I am not working so I feel helpless.  I hurt most of the time and live on pain killers, muscle relaxers and nerve meds.  I am sick of watching tv.  My wife tells me to enjoy my time off.  I just cant because I am in a state of high anxiety all the time.  I need to see a psychologist or somebody.  I have no idea how to find one.  I do see a pain management dr and have been for probably seven years.  I am afraid to appear unstable for fear of losing my pain meds. 

    You are much younger than I, which is a shame.  You shouldn't have to deal with this at your age.  My youngest has been out of the house for years.  Its just the two of us now.  How did all these leg issues start? 

    dmo

  • Dmo- We thought CECS. But my numbers came back normal. I would get strange swelling above my ankle and in my anterior tib muscle along with nerve pain down my keg.. My MRI finally  showed a hernia in my anterior tib muscle. So doc did 4 compartment fasciotomy along with peroneal nerve release. What we thought was a hernia was actually a thinner than usual fascia. And my peroneal nerve was riding high on my tib bone and stuck in scar tissue from my 1st surgery. So the surgeon moved it to a more textbook path. And now it's just a waiting game. Will the nerve pain in my leg stay or go...

    I'm sure you have considered a 2nd opinion. The quality of life can  really grab you and pull you down. I know. I've been dealing with this leg nerve issue for 2 years. Like you I've been unable to work for 2 yrs. We have a 6yr old that's very active and I can barely muster up the confidence to get him to school some days. I told my husband it's like my brain says do this and this but when I start to be on my feet my leg pain grabs me and says no, no, no!!! 

    Do you see a pain management doc?  I'ts been suggested that I start seeing one. Also I've started seeing a pain management phycologist to try and get my head in a better place. I don't know if your down for that but the focus is a little different than oh lets talk about your problems. Sessions focus on pain, coping with pain, the anxiety that come with pain Etc... 
     Hang in there!
  • Dmo- Chronic Pain has no age or friends! It can happen to any of us. 

    Have you seen your neuro for your t10, L4/5 and C4 yet? Do you plan on having surgeries? Wonder which they would tackle 1st? Have you considered going outside your neuro. For example 3-4 hrs away we have Duke or UVA! 

    I had a jumping in place contest with my then 5yr old son in 2015. I had immediate knee and leg pain . I had knee surgery then during physical therapy the leg pain came back. Was unable to bare weight on left leg b/c of nerve pain. Started seeing a neurosurgeon, ordered emg, it showed slowing around the fiblia head. 3/2016 neuro did 1st peroneal nerve release. In the mean time I decided to push through  the pain of my leg and get that yard looking good.... SO I picked up a huge flower pot. Pinched a nerve in my neck.....  And then I had neck nerve pain and leg nerve pain. Leg nerve pain never went away and got worse. And 11/2016 I had neck surgery. SUCCESS!!!  The same dr that did my 1st leg surgery. In the mean time I started doctor shopping for a good ortho dr about my leg. Had another leg surgery 2/2017.....  And in physical therapy to try and walk straight, get my balance back again but the leg nerve pain gets me. For 2 years I walked with a crook in my knee b/c the nerve pain. So it's going to be a very looooooong process. 

    I take neurotin, elavil, mortin, Tylenol. I do not take any pain meds or muscle relaxers I just suck it up and deal with it. 

    A pain management phycologist was suggested by my leg dr. Try practical pain management.com
    Type in your zip code and type of pain. Search the list for Psychologist/  Psychiatrist. Also ask your pain management Dr if your comfortable. A friend suggested i try this website  too emdria.org. 
     Chat soon
  • Jodee,

    Ha, ha, a jumping up and down contest!!  That's to funny, who won?  Not you it sounds like.  Isnt it funny how fast things like that happen.  Then it takes forever to get back to normal or in our case a new normal.  I also take Neurontin.  I take hydromorphone and zanaflex muscle relaxer.  I have tried to come off the pain meds but I just cant make it without them.  The spondylolithasis at c4-5 and my fractured vertebra wont let me.  I also get very little sleep even with pain meds. 

    I fractured my back helping my wife move her sewing desk.  It is big but I thought if she can lift her end I surely should be able to lift mine.  Well we picked it up and started walking it in the house when my back just starting really hurting.  I spent the rest of the day on the sofa with a heating pad.  I already have pain meds so I just took the weekend and chilled.  Monday rolled around and I went to work.  I made the whole day but on Tuesday I could hardly move.  I told my wife I am going to the E R.  They did a CT scan and said wow you have a fractured T12 vertebra.  Like you I went back to my neurosurgeon and he ordered MRI.  That revealed a large disc bulge at L4-L5 with disc impinging on root nerve, in addition to the fracture higher up.  I am out of work yet again. 

    I go back to neurosurgeon Friday and he will probably want to do Kyphoplasty surgery.  They insert a ballon into your vertebra, inflate it and then fill it with cement.  I have no idea about the bad disc bulge in lumbar region.  I also have no idea about misalignment of c4-c5 except for another fusion surgery.  So really if I do everything I will have three more surgeries. 

    Let me know how you are feeling.  Do you think your leg will ever be normal again?  Sounds like to me you need to be careful you are getting hurt at the drop of a hat. lol.  How is the rest of your spine?  I never knew how bad my thoracic and lumbar spines were until three weeks ago.  Thanks for taking the time to share Jodee, I really need to vent a little. 

    dmo 

  • Dmo,
    My son definitely won!  My mother calls me a delicate flower....blhahaha!  
    We are not sure if the nerve pain in my leg will go away. My ortho (leg) dr does seem to think I will have some relief at my 6month point. I like the way he put it " I'm better but!" And like you say a new normal! I literally take it moment by moment. 

    The rest of my back is fine. Knock knock on wood!

    Venting is good! I feel like my neighbors  relative had a kyphoplasty done and it was successful. And you probably just have to tackle one thing at a time. 



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