My Experience with ACDF C-4 to C-7
I wanted to write and tell everyone about my experience with ACDF surgery that I had last week for C-4 to C-7. I am a confirmed hysteric when it comes to surgical treatment for anything. When I was 22 (1982) I was in an auto accident in Newark NJ on the way home from the airport. I had a really bad fracture to my left femur and was in the hospital for 3 months before surgery. After the surgery I had really bad fevers, pain, etc. The doctor told me it was all in my head, blah blah and that it would pass. 6 months later I ended up in Stanford medical center with acute staph infection of the bone and it took 3 years of bone grafts and debridement and exotic devices to get my bone to heal. Fast forward to last week, and so being hyper aroused about anything to do with surgery I finally went through with the ACDF after putting it off for a year. I was a bad case, numbness and weakness walking (could barely make it up the stairs) and so on. Scared silly I finally picked the spine center at Cedars Sinai in LA (figuring if it was good enough for the movie stars it was good enough for me). My experience started with the class act that Cedars is – my hand being numbed before the IV was put in so I wouldn’t feel any pain. (YAY I like it already)!!
My surgery lasted 3 hours, and I woke up crying because the anticipation was so far worse than the experience. My amazing doctor had made a 1’ incision in my neck and it was covered by a band-aid when I woke up. I wasn’t really in pain but the muscles had been stretched a lot and my neck was visibly longer. I went back to my private room, (I don’t think they have two bed rooms at Cedars) with the crown molding and amazing staff. My amazing doctor came up a little while later to see how I was doing and told me that I had major surgery through a very small hole. I was scared fearing that I would have problems walking and so on but they gave me a nice shot of Dilaudid and up I on my feet I went 4 hours post-op. I was pretty amazed to be stepped down to Norco the next day, and have the doctor check me out of the hospital. I stopped on the way home to have a huge lunch. My throat hurt equal to strep, the SOMA took care of the muscle spasms, and that first night home I walked 1/3 of a mile the first time in 15 years. As I write this today is day 10. I take very little pain medicine anymore, a soma now and then and walk every day and even went to the movies last night. The pain has all but vanished and there is some numbness in my thumb that wasn’t there before. I see my doctor for a follow up on Tuesday and hope that I can do some more stuff. I want to exercise for the first time in a long time like 30 years and am crazed to be out an about and travel again and go back to work.
So in summary – I had very little pain, no collar, no restrictions except lifting nothing heavier than 1 lb which is hard, and no removal of the band-aid until the doctor does it. (He did a plastic surgery closure, so I guess it has something to do with that) I was able to sleep on my side again although it can cause some problems in the morning with pain, and I had good motion after surgery so I have not really seen the loss of range of motion as others have. I am worried that I might have dislodged something in my sleeping since I move around but I am such a worry wart that it will probably be nothing just like all my apprehension before surgery. I have read so many posts from folks that have had bad experiences with their procedures; I wish all of the procedures were as easy and clean as mine. I will update you with my progress as I move forward on my journey so that hopefully my experience will give insight to others. (I remember the fear and loneliness before my procedure and would like to help others experience less stress)