10 Worst Parts Of ACDF Surgery…So Far

It’s obvious that any major surgery is going to be a bitch, but so far this recovery is more difficult than I expected. Usually, I can complain about it, but handle it. I don’t feel like I’m doing so hot. I have been going for short walks every day, which is supposed to be great for recovery.

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. Slight pain in my neck and that was it. I’m so lethargic and wait around until my mom can help me with basic tasks. If I drop something on the floor, I just wish it well as there is a good chance I won’t be picking it up in the near future. Here are the 10 things that I am struggling with the most:

1. Brain Fog

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When I have conversations with people, or even text them I don’t remember if it actually happened or if I made it up in my head. Especially with all the meds they gave me in the hospital I feel so out of it. I hate that feeling. It makes me sad and like I’m missing out on stuff. It’s like that crappy dream-like daze where you aren’t quite sure what is real or not.

2. Itchiness

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Every. Freaking. Thing itches! Especially around the incision sites. I want to claw at them, but I’d probably end up with some horrific infection. In the hospital the opiates definitely made me itch. When I asked the nurses for Benadryl they acted like I was asking for a chest of diamonds. C’mon ladies, this is literally your job.

3. Pain

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In case I haven’t said this before; I can NOT take pain meds. I told the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and nurses that I get violently ill with any and all narcotics, but they think they know my body better than I do. They said I couldn’t do the surgery without pain meds. I have an extremely high pain tolerance. When I’m at a 6 or 7, that is someone’s 9 or 10. Anyway, the loaded me up with anti-nausea meds and the patch behind my ear. Someone told me that in 30 years of doing these surgeries he has only seen 5 people throw up after the surgery. I told him I would be the 6th, and he said he highly doubted that.

So, guess what happened? I threw up of course! Do you know how shitty that is after neck surgery? It’s the worst. So to manage pain I’m prescribed Flexeril and Valium to take the edge off. It helps me sleep, but also contributes to the brain fog. I’m not having many appealing options here.

4. Being Bored

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Ok, so I know I was lying around a lot before the surgery due to pain. But this is SOOOOOO boring. I can’t do much. You don’t realize how much you look around and use your neck until you aren’t allowed to. I have to retrain my brain to move my torso and not my neck. I can’t look up or down. No BLT (Bending, Lifting, Twisting). I have to adjust myself a specific way to watch TV. Typing is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I just am right now. I exist but am definitely not living. Makes a good recipe for increased depression.

5. Constipation

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Ok, so this is going to be WAY TMI, but I had to suffer through it so you can read it. I’m also still a little loopy so I don’t care enough to be embarrassed, although when I’m put together again I may delete this part. For now, I have no shame in my game. I hadn’t pooped since the day before my surgery, (Tues. July 4th); I finally got it out yesterday, (Mon. July 10th). That is too long to go without letting that shit out, literally. HA!

I’ve been bloated from all the meds, fluids and being backed up making me look kind of pregnant. I was on the toilet (if you get grossed out last warning to avoid this nasty part!). So there I was, waiting for relief. Nothing happened for a while. I started to strain because I knew there would be a lot, it had been almost a week! I strained so hard I was worried I’d pop a blood vessel or pass out or something. Nothing. Not a damn thing.

I was sweating profusely trying to birth my butt baby, fully dilated but the pushing was no use. Well, my daughter leaves her trash all around the house and there was a lollipop stick. I was grossing myself out, but desperate to get relief. You can guess what I did next, ahhh sooo embarrassing, I tried to scoop out the hard as rock poop with the lollipop stick. You are absolutely allowed to be disgusted with me now, I am.

The stick didn’t work. Only got a bit out. There was an old photograph on the floor as well (I have another copy so don’t worry). And I ripped that into thin strips to continue the attempt to scoop out the poop. This is not my proudest moment. A very low point for me. After several attempts with the picture pieces it all started coming out! This was and is hands down the best shit of my life. I have no regrets…..

6. Trouble Swallowing

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They said this is a common side effect since they move your esophagus and trachea aside to get to your spine. It’s more of an annoying feeling, but I do get anxious when I really have to concentrate on it.

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This is what they did to me.

7. Everything Takes FOREVER

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I’m not even kidding. I can’t bend down to brush my teeth. I sit on a stool and have this little plastic tub thing that I hold just under my lip to spit into when I’m ready. Then, I take a sip of water to rinse out my mouth and spit into the tub again. Getting dressed is a pain. I’ve been wearing the same thing for 2 days now. I don’t even care. I am allowed to take off my neck brace to get dressed, but I have to be mindful not to move my neck when placing clothing over my head. Showering is dumb too. I’ve only showered twice since last Wed. I LOVE to shower every day. I don’t care at this time. I’m struggling with this recovery so I couldn’t care less about my personal hygiene.

8. Migraines

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For anyone who suffers from migraines, I am so sorry for you. I never had them until my car accident in Sept. On top of the nausea, neck pain, hip irritation and general recovery; a migraine is the last thing I need. They gave me an injection in the hospital to help with them and it actually worked. I think it’s called Imitrex. Anyway, they sent in a script for this med. Guess what they did with it? I got vials of the medication and a bunch of needles. Never in my life have I injected a needle into my body. WTF? Are these people serious? Why would you send someone home with an injectable medication without informing the patient? They could have at least told me. And then they should have shown me how to do it. I get migraines every night and almost break down and take it, but I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong. I’m pretty frustrated with that part of it. People don’t think sometimes and I’m usually understanding of it, except when it impacts me directly.

9. Puking

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I loathe throwing up. I have a super weak stomach. One of the major reasons I can’t do narcotics. So when I say no they give me multiple opiates. Makes sense. I said this earlier, but throwing up after neck surgery is a real bitch. I’ve been throwing up on and off while writing this post. I’m sure I moved my neck, how can I not? I have tears running down my face because of this misery and my lack of understanding while I’m still puking. I haven’t taken any pain meds since I was released from the hospital. I’ve even been taking my Zofran (anti-nausea med) regularly. Yuck! I don’t have a big appetite either, so I don’t understand what my body is trying to get rid of. Maybe my serial killer hip ghost?

10. Not Being Able to Snuggle my Buggle

Favorite part of my life

This one is not the least important because it’s last, it’s the one that breaks my heart. I did get to have her come spend some time with me today and she was pretty good about being gentle with me. She wants to touch my hip and neck and continues to ask me to open the scars to show her the screws and my bone. I love every moment with her, but get frustrated when she’s being super wild and it hurts me. I know she doesn’t intend to hurt me, she just doesn’t understand completely. Then I feel awful for snapping at her or hurting her feelings in any way. I’m worried I’m going to scar her for life, because I’m in so much pain and I can’t pick her up or do things for her that a mom should do.

She has been helpful about getting me some stuff though. I asked her to get me an ice cream sandwich, it’s one of the few things I feel like eating. So she goes and gets one. I thank her and she says, “this is for me, silly.” Really? So rude. My mom got me one, but what the hell kid? She’s definitely my daughter. I won’t get to spend the night with her alone for a month, possibly longer if I’m not healing very well. Once the neck brace comes off I still have the weight restriction. We shall see.

Today sucked. I’m itchy and nauseous. I’m sweating and have a migraine. I can taste the puke in my mouth and my cat licked my ice cream sandwich just now. I’m going to retire for the evening. TaTa for now!

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