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Old 09-28-2006, 06:48 AM #1
Kathi49 Kathi49 is offline
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Default Had C5/C6 Fusion

Hi All,

Well, I have finally had the C5/C6 fusion done last Friday. I am doing okay except for the dreaded muscle spasms that I knew would hit. The funny thing is...it was always my right arm and hand that hurt pretty bad and now it is my left! But the NS's assistant said that he drilled out some bone spurs on the left. Jeez, I feel like my whole left arm has been chopped off and put back on. But, when I take the pain meds it kind of goes away. It is way too early to really say how I will do but at least I can type on the computer now without any pain other than the left upper arm and shoulder. Well, this will be a long haul and I know it. I do have pretty good range of motion still but am not allowed to do any exercises until I see them next. So, for now I have to take it pretty easy and walk as much as I can when I feel up to it. Anyway, I just wanted to update everyone. Thanks!
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Old 09-30-2006, 10:22 PM #2
slipnslide slipnslide is offline
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Congrats Kathi on your surgery! Keep me posted on your recovery. I am now 3 months out of surgery on c5/6 and c6/7 so I'm curious to see if you start to experience any of the things that I am currently experiencing. This site had been down for so long and I just found it again tonight so I am trying to catch up with everything and how everyone is doing. Best wishes.

Kim
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Old 10-01-2006, 06:14 AM #3
Kathi49 Kathi49 is offline
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Hi Kim!

I am doing okay but this particular experience is a little different than from the first fusion. The C3/C4 which I had done two years ago really gave me no trouble with the exception of some spasms. The C5/C6 is different in that I did have some SEVERE spasms down my left arm the first 3 or 4 days. But they calmed down. I had a great day yesterday and probably overdid it because last night I could not sleep at all! I am having some spasms across my shoulders but not too bad. The darn steri strips have not fallen off yet and I wish they would because the incision is itching like crazy! And I have some chest pain. But I think that is because the meds are making my GERD act up. Oh, I did go to the ER the other day, so my heart is fine. Like I said, I think it is heartburn. I am so darn sensitive to meds. Anyway, I am down to two Norco a day and one Klonopin and also taking Nexium once a day. I am also wearing the bone growth stimulator 4 hours a day. So, I guess you could say I am doing alright for now. I want to know what YOU are experiencing and how you have been faring. Please let me know! Kathi
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Old 10-01-2006, 08:47 AM #4
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Kathi,

I too experienced the shooting arm pains after surgery, especially the first week or two. During recovery it became less often, until I took the Philly collar off. I'm now finding that I can trigger the pains with movement, so now I'm scared. I thought that they were totally gone since I had not felt that pain at all during the last week of wearing my collar. What date was your surgery? 9/20/06? I know how hard it is to sleep after the surgery, I'm still having trouble finding a position that does not cause me pain. It sounds like you are doing pretty well so fa...did your doc put you in a collar? (I can't remember who was being put in a collar and who wasn't from our old posts.....lol) I have to ask, what kind of chest pains were you having? By any chance were they like a crushing feeling, like having the wind knocked outta ya?

Hope you're doing well today,

Kim
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MVA 11/05
L4-5 left foraminal protrusion
facet hypertrophy mid & lower lumbar
6/22/06 - ACDF C5-C6-C7
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Old 10-01-2006, 10:32 AM #5
ValerieMor ValerieMor is offline
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Default Slipnslide

Hey Kim!
So glad you found us!! I have been thinking about you! How did your hernia surgery go? Sorry you are still having pains.. My surgery went well.. So far so good. I think I am two weeks behind you.. 7/10/06..
Valerie
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Old 10-01-2006, 10:45 AM #6
Kathi49 Kathi49 is offline
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Hey Kim,

I just read your other post. Wow, I didn't realize you were having that much pain. I do remember after my first fusion that I had a "honeymoon" period when nothing hurt. Then at about the 3 month mark or so I had terrible spasms. I went to PT for a short time, had a couple of injections and then they calmed down. Since then I had always had some kind of pain in my upper back but the C5/C6 was bad all along. I am sorry to hear that you are still having pain down your arms. What does your doctor say about it? Oh, and I am in a soft collar. But I don't wear it ALL the time. If I am up and about, I do. When I am resting, I don't. I learned from the first fusion that wearing the soft collar ALL the time wasn't necessarily a good thing to do. Anyway, my instructions say to wear it when I am AMBULATORY. I am supposed to let air get to this incision too and wearing the collar prevents that. Oh, and I had my surgery on the 22nd. Now back to the pain again...the chest pain just feels like acid reflux OR sometimes it feels like I can't take in a deep breath. Then again, I know that the pain meds can act on your breathing too. I don't ever feel like I have had the wind knocked out of me though. And last but not least, I don't know what they did to cause the arm pain that is so bad but when I called my doctor's office they told me they had drilled out some bone spurs on the left. I just tend to think that a lot of pulling and tugging goes on in there and it messes with the ligaments and muscles. I go for my next checkup in 3 weeks so I will let you know if they say any more. Keep me posted too! Kathi
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Old 10-01-2006, 10:12 PM #7
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Valerie & Kathi,

I'm so glad you're both here to bounce things off of....so to speak. The past two months I've had so many questions that only others who had the same surgery could answer. I kept checking back with the original BT Communities address and it wasn't until I did a search that I found it under the new address.
Valerie, that hernia surgery was a kicker! It wasn't until they got in there to fix the first hernia that they found a second one just below it a few inches. I had a worse time with pain and getting around, I believe because of the drugs (Mepergan Fortis) they gave me bound me up! I stopped those pain killers after 2 weeks, had I known what was making me so constipated, I would have not taken them at all and stuck with the percocet from the ACDF surgery. I honestly thought having the lapriscopic surgery would make it so much easier of a recovery, boy was I wrong! I felt like they took an egg beater and stuck it in each incision and turned it on full speed. I'm happy to hear that things are going well for you. Since you can't take your usual meds for pain and the tylenol is doing nothing, can't your surgeon prescribe a mild pain killer that will allow you to sleep a little better or wake with less pain?
Kathi, you've given me some hope being that you had that "honeymoon" period of no pain before pains returned. I'm so happy to hear that they can disappear again! I think what you are doing with wearing the collar only part-time is a smart idea! I know my muscles locked up while wearing the collar cuz when I first took it off, I could not move my head in any direction without pain. I was stiff as a board. As far as the scar on the neck, the PT told me to rub, press on, and massage it once it's healed over. By doing so, you'll break up the scar tissue that builds up and reduce the scarring. When I first started working on mine, it felt like needles poking me deep in the neck, but now it's much better and the scar is hardly noticable. I still have no feeling on the surface of my neck from the incision, up to the front of my chin, but I know that could take up to a year to return. Kathi, you're a brave soul to do that surgery twice! Right now, I don't ever want to even think of having another surgery...I'm a big old chicken!...lol I'm wondering now what symptoms you had with your C3/4 prior to having it fused?

Do either of you, or anyone else have any ideas on how to sleep?

Anyhow, my OS mentioned an MRI to see if something is in there that got left behind. Can MRI's show if the nerves are being irritated by something even with all that hardware so close to where they need to view?

Best to you both,

Kim
__________________
MVA 11/05
L4-5 left foraminal protrusion
facet hypertrophy mid & lower lumbar
6/22/06 - ACDF C5-C6-C7
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Old 10-02-2006, 07:34 AM #8
Kathi49 Kathi49 is offline
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Hi Kim and Valerie,

Yes, it helps tremendously to bounce things off of each other. As far as the constipation thing goes. I have had that for a long, long time along with GERD. Nexium, which I take for GERD, can cause constipation and then when you add the pain killers it just makes things much, much worse. I asked my gastro guy for a prescription for Miralax. It has worked wonders! However, you are not supposed to use for more than two weeks. BUT I have read of people taking it every day. I take very little...not the usual 17 grams they have you take. I try to get by with half. And it works...that and PLENTY of water. When I can, I will go back to my usual Benefiber and still MORE water LOL!

Kim, I was a big ole chicken too! You don't know how afraid I was to face this second fusion! The anxiety levels were sky high! I was NOT afraid of the surgery per se. I was more afraid of the spasms and pain afterwards. Which we are speaking of now. I hate it! Did your doctor, by any chance, prescribe Valium for the spasms? I don't like advocating the use of "benzo's" but they work better than muscle relaxers in my opinion. The Klonopin I take pretty much takes them down to a bearable level. Anyway, I had my choice...to come off of the Klonopin and go to Valium after surgery. Or, just to stick with the Klonopin and "up" it to two pills a day instead of one. My NS suggested that I just stick with the Klonopin and so did my Neurologist. It would have caused more problems (withdrawals) if I had had to taper so quickly. Anyway, I am only taking one Klonopin a day and it seems to work so far. At least if you had some kind of anti-spasmodic med maybe you could get to a therapist without too much pain and start working on those issues. And, to be honest with you, I had much better relief with a massage therapist than regular PT. It seems the PT made me much worse. I don't know why but perhaps they had me stretching way too soon without getting those darn knots out first. Finally the PT had to use that tool I spoke of. And that hurt! BUT...she eventually got those things out! I guess we all do what we can to eliminate those types of pains. So, my opinion is is to try anything within reason to help with the pain. Now, what I want to know is what is up with Norco???!! I didn't get Vicodin this time and Norco is supposed to be more mild but supposedly the same as Vicodin. I don't think so! The Norco seems to keep me awake, although a little loony, and then I sweat a lot with it. With Vicodin I only needed very little...like 2 pills a day, slept like a baby and was extremely happy all the time LOL! I know, it was the opiate part of it LOL! Oh, well, when I go back to the NS, I will ask him about all of this. As far as sleeping, I had a rough time last night. See, it is the darn Norco keeping me awake! I had a few spasms, so I put on my soft collar and grabbed the cervical pillow and adjusted myself until I finally went to sleep. But, like you, I always start out in my recliner. I don't like that either but it does help to get sleepy and then I crawl into bed. Anyway, I also wanted to ask you what meds you are currently taking. My PM once mentioned Lunesta to me to help me sleep but I never did take it. Let me know! Kathi
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Old 10-02-2006, 10:06 PM #9
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Kathi,

The only meds I am taking currently is Tramadl/APAP (Ultracet) and it doesn't help much, to be honest. I went from sleeping 3 hours a night to 4 hours a night after I started taking the Tramadl. My OS took me off the Percocet since I had been on it so long and expressed my wishes to go off all drugs so that I could pass a drug test in order to become employable again. Little did I know that I would be experiencing these same pains as I had before the surgery.

I'm scheduled to get an ESI in the facet joints on thurs and I am dreading it after that last injection I had back in March! I'm so tired of being poked, prodded, cut, and stuck with needles...but on the same note, when the pain increases to the level its at right now while typing this, then I become brave and am willing to try it almost anything. Pain is a great motivator...lol

You never did say what pains/symptoms you were having with your C3/4 that made you decide to get them fused. Care to share???....lol

Kathi, I'm clueless about Norco...never heard of it, let alone taken it.

Best wishes,

Kim
__________________
MVA 11/05
L4-5 left foraminal protrusion
facet hypertrophy mid & lower lumbar
6/22/06 - ACDF C5-C6-C7
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Old 10-03-2006, 07:11 AM #10
Kathi49 Kathi49 is offline
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Hi Kim,

I just now saw you are back on Brain Talk 1. We need to go over there I think. But for now I will tell you about the C3/C4. I'm sorry, I know you asked about that and I spaced it! Okay, I had cervicogenic headaches with variant migraines and/or occipital neuralgia. The SEVERE pain was always up around my head in the typical "ram's horn pattern"...so they call it. This was all due to bone spurs/osteophytes pressing on nerve roots. The docs tried to treat it conservatively at first. And I went through 3 years of awful pain before I found a spine group that fixed it! Just know that the pain I had at that level was UP the back of my head and never downwards. BUT, also know that the C5/C6 was bad at the same time. The NS just didn't want to fuse both at once. So, any pain I had in my shoulders which was minimal at the beginning, I attribute to the C5/C6. I suppose the C3/C4 could refer pain elsewhere but in my case it was the base of my skull and head. Okay, now for Tramadol or Ultram. I tried that once and I can't really remember what happened. Either it made me sick or I got nauseated from it. But in any case my Pain Management doctor did tell me that HE is finding that it is not helping his patients much although he was once a believer in it. I suppose he may still use it for some people I am just re-iterating what he told me. I have extreme difficulty with most meds. And, he did want me to try Lyrica. I am telling you what...you might as well put me totally out of comission if you hand me Neurontin or Lyrica. I just cannot tolerate them. Okay, so after all of this pain BS, pardon me, he finally decided to let me stay on Vicodin since I was taking only 1/2 pill a day along with Klonopin. I know it can be addicting but I am extremely careful about how much I take of anything. And I will say 1/2 of a Vicodin and 1/2 to 1 tablet of .5 Klonopin gave me some functionality back! At least I was able to drive and get out and about. Okay, now Norco is a "baby" Vicodin. That is how I view it anyway. Vicodin is usually 5/500. Norco, or at least the one the NS prescribed is 7.5/325. I also have some that are 3.5/325. Norco has less Tylenol in it which is supposed to be easier on your liver...more so than Vicodin. Currently, I am taking 1 to 2 a day of the 7.5/325. Hopefully, I can taper down as time goes on. Also, for some reason, the Norco does NOT make me sleepy like the Vicodin did. Anyway, I hope this helps. Kathi
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