Thursday, June 30, 2011

One week!

Today marks one whole week from my surgery!  It seems time has gone by fast.

Last week at this time (2:38pm) I think I was in the recovery room!

My pain has not been extremely bad lately except for around 4pm.  Every day, around 4pm my pain spikes and stays that way until I take medication which helps a little.  I don't know what it has to do with 4pm!

I have been very careful.  Sitting around a lot, walking a little.  I know I need to walk more.  I am going to do a little more walking when the temperature goes down a little, or at least the sun.

Today so far I took Dixie outside, she went to "ssr".  She is so cute!

I also ordered a delivery sub from Hungry Howies!  Ha ha ha.  It was pretty good.  So good but so bad. 

I talked to my friends on the spine-health website today.  There are a lot of nice people on there, unfortunatly all with neck/back issues as well.

Unfortunately I have been having some strange dreams lately.  Last night I had 2 that I remember.  The first one was that I stepped on my grandpa's toe and broke it!  :(  The second one my sister was so excited she came into my room while I was sleeping, woke me up, grabbed me by the front of my pajamas and pulled me up and down (like in a whiplash position!) I freaked out and was crying and angry because I can't move my neck that much.  Hmmm

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 6 After Surgery

Today is day 6 after surgery.  Wednesday June 29th.

I am starting to loose track of the day.   I thought it was Thursday!

Yesterday I was in a lot of pain.  The morning started off ok, but around 11 the pain started to get really bad, it stayed that way until I took medication at about 4, then at about 5 I was starting to feel a little better.

Laura came over for a visit.  She is leaving for France today!  I am so happy for her.  What a great learning experience!

Today my pain has not been that bad. I am being very careful not to move very much.  Any movement of my arms, and shoulders is bad, and movement of my neck is prohibited and really bad!!

Today I have been getting pretty bored.  I am surprised it took this long for me to get bored.  I guess I am also sad today because the fireworks are tonight and I really want to go.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 5 After Surgery

Even though I am just chillaxing at home, time seems to be flying.  Today is Tuesday, June 28th which is day 5 after surgery.  The last few days have not been that bad.  Yes I am in pain........ but I can still eat and drink and walk around so I am doing fine.  I would have updated this blog more often, but every time I tried to I would start feeling very dizzy!  My sensitivity to light and sound is much less now thank goodness!!

My pain is concentrated in my upper back, mostly the part of my spine where the neck connects to the back.  It also hurts around the shoulder blades and will get very stiff at times.  The front of my throat where the incision is really does not hurt.  It does not feel like anything.  It itches sometimes and is a bit numb.  The right side of my chin (my right) is very numb!  A random nerve will miss fire every once in a while.  I will think there is something on there but there is not.  That is not painful, just weird.  The back of my head where my neck connects is also very painful especially where the muscles connect on both sides.  The pain is less after I start moving around, then more after I moved around (If that makes sense haha), and then in the evening my muscles get super tight, and then at night It is very painful and hard to sleep.  I wake up pretty often.  I have a sore spot in my throat.  It seems to be on the right side.  I didn't have much pain in my throat until about the third day.  I am very thankful because I know they put all those tubes down my throat. Most people have a lot of difficulty swallowing after surgery.  I am thankful I had little to none.

Last night I woke up at about 4am.  My neck brace was off, my covers and pillows were off the bed and I was laying there in a twisted up position.  NOT GOOD!!!  Lets hope and pray that does not happen again.  I was afraid of something like that happening, because I am known for doing that.  I often have "night terrors" where I talk in my sleep and move around. 

My lower back is still hurting a lot.  I am going to have to try to get that checked out again as soon as possible.  I don't think it is a disc issue because it is not the same type of pain.  Who knows!  Always something.  :( 

Today I think Laura is coming over.  She is leaving for France tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!  Lucky her!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ACDF 4-5 continued


So every time I continue to write this blog, I become nauseous so I can only write a little at a time.  Anyway.. Back to my story....

At about 6pm it was time for me to get up for the first time.  I was NOT looking forward to that.  I had to go to the bathroom anyway so it had to be done.  By this time my mom was there and she accompanied me to the bathroom.  Basically....  getting there was awful.  They said I was walking like a penguin!  When I got to the toilet I couldn't go, I sat there for 45 min with a full bladder and with a great effort finally went a little.  I also felt like I was going to pass out.  Finally I got back to my bed and rested for a bit. Around 8-830ish my new roomate Vickie came in.  She had lumbar fusion surgery. Her schedule was late... It didn't even start until about 3pm.  Let me just say... She was STARVING!!  She ate all the graham crackers and finally the nurse went and got her a sandwich!!  The night was rough.  I was pretty much up all night.  Between my trips every 45 min to the bathroom, and Vickie's trips as well, no one was sleeping at all.  The night was like some crazy drug induced sleepover where you stay up all night!  There was also always something going on out in the hallway.  Different emergencies! My IV blew up and it took 2.5 hours before I was able to get a new one.  This was good because I was able to make my bathroom trips a lot easier, but bad because I wasn't getting my fluids, antibiotic or pain medication.  The nurse, Melissa, was pretty new.  She was nervous about giving me the iv, especially because my veins are hard to find.  She ended up doing it in my wrist, which I was nervous about, but it worked out fine and actually hurt less than the other iv!  She was really nice.  All the nurses were pretty nice.  Throughout the night they were giving me a rotation between iv morphine and oral Percocet 5/325.  I did not get sick at all from the meds.  I was very sensitive to lights and sound the whole time, and still am.  In the morning I ordered breakfast.  I ordered buttermilk pancakes, a banana, yogurt, and English muffin with cream cheese and jelly.  When I got the food, they literally gave me one silver dollar pancake that was dried up!!  I didn't even end up eating that.  I ate the English muffin, half the banana and yogurt.  Soon after breakfast Dr. Croissant and Zac the nurse came by.  When they walked in the room they all stood at the end of my bed with a puzzled look on their face.  It was an awkward staring contest for about 2 seconds.  It felt like a whole minute.  Then finally Dr. Croissant said, "Do you know your neck brace is on backwards".  I told him I know, it supports my neck in the back better! They all thought that was very strange but then the Dr said everything looked good and I was going to be released around noon.  He also told me that I am the youngest person he has ever done a cervical disc fusion on.  (Lucky me)  Not to mention he has been in practice for over 40 years.  He said my disc was extremely ruptured with lots of fragments on the spinal cord and nerve roots.  He seems like a very nice but quiet person.  I called mom and she came to get me.  We waited a little bit for paperwork to be filled out and then I left.  I was not looking forward to the ride home.  I get carsick very easily and was afraid of the bumps in the road.  Zac wheeled me down to the lobby in a gigantic wheelchair, and I got in the car.  We stopped at Walgreens to get my prescription filled.  We finally got home and of course I wasn't feeling great.  Mom gave me a bath and I almost passed out when she was drying my hair. Everything started looking extremely fuzzy and like it was raining and my hands and arms became extremely tingly!  Then grandma brought over some stew and I ate it while lying back in the recliner with an ice bag covering my head and eyes.  The bright sunlight in the kitchen really really bothered me.  I felt bad but I was getting one of the worst headaches ever.  Soon after grandma and grandpa left I went to bed. I was worried how I was going to be able to sleep.  The recliner was comfortable, but getting OUT was nearly impossible. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to sleep flat in the bed either.  I didn't think I was going to be able to sleep but with the help of piled up pillows, a neck collar, Dueche, the lou boys and Percocet I could!  I was so relieved.  The next morning I woke up feeling ok, had an egg for breakfast and then went outside and walked up and down the driveway a couple times.  This really tired me out and gave me a huge headache.  I went inside and laid down for a while after that.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25, 2011 (2nd day post op)

Hello Everyone!!

I am now going to recount to the best of my ability the experience of my surgery so far.

June 23rd 2011.

When I arrived at the hospital with my mom I checked in at the front desk. It was about 8:30am. They sent me up to the B elevators- second floor surgery check in.  I signed in on the computer at surgery check in and within a few minutes they called me to the desk.  They asked me what I was there for and had me agree to a few questions, like if they could give out my room number to visitors and if I consented to having the surgery.  They then told me to go sit back down and a pre op assistant would come and get me.  Not even 5 minutes later the pre op person got me.  They took me to pre op bay 7.  I undressed and put on the hospital gown.  It is a very interesting gown.  It was very soft purple paper/cloth like material.  It had holes where you could hook up a hair dryer type thing that could either heat u up or cool you! I was not hot or cold so I didn't use either yet.  After that I waited and the other nurse came and asked me questions about medications and some other legal type questions.  She gave me a dramamine pill to prevent sickness after anesthesia. It seemed really early to take it, but of course that wasn't up to me! I waited about another half an hour and then my mom came in.  I couldn't sit on the bed because it was really hurting my neck.  The nurse said it was ok to sit in the chair next to the bed.  I sat there for a while. The nurse came by again and said the surgery before mine took longer than expected, so they are running about a half an hour behind.  The time dragged on.  I was very nervous.  Anesthsia came by.  There was an Anestheologist, a nurse anestestist and a student nurse anestestist!  They looked at my mouth to see how big it was... they didn't look pleased.  They asked me lots of questions about previous surgeries and about my history of allergies and asthma. Soon they left and the surgeon came by.  He asked me if I was nervous and I said YES!  He told me that's normal but not to be nervous.  He put a piece of tape on my neck where he was going to cut.  Then a bunch of people came and they told me it was time to get in the bed.  I got in and they started pushing me towards the OR.  This is where things got VERY fuzzy.  They said time to say goodbye, my mom kissed me and then they pushed me through the double doors.  I don't remember what happened after that until they lifted me from that bed to another bed.  They lifted up the blanket I was lying on.  Kind of like on TV how they all go 1.2.3... and all lift.  The other bed had a doughnut pillow thing that was uncomfortable. I reached my had up to move it but they took my arm and tucked it in very tight close to my body.  They then and pulled my other arm, the one with the iv, out on a stretcher thing...... and guess what.........  I don't remember anything else.

Recovery Room:

Nurse:  Lisa!  LISA you need to breathe!  Breathe LISA (while taping on my chest)
Me: (in my head) Lisa? (while trying to breathe)
Nurse: LISA!  You need to breathe!
Me: (again in my head Lisa? LISA?)  (Also it was kinda scary not being able to breathe.  Finally I started breathing again or something and they pulled out the tube.  I drifted off a couple times and every time the nurse would come back..
Nurse:  Lisa you need to take deep breaths, deep breaths Lisa!

Anyway... At this point I could not talk.   I kept trying to say Donna but nothing was coming out not even a whisper.  Finally after trying a lot of times I could barely whisper.  I kept motioning the nurse over and finally she came over and I let out a little whisper, "Donna".  She was like, Huh? Finally she looked at my chart and was like OMG I am sorry your name is Donna!  I also noticed sometime during this that I did not have a collar on.  She was giving me pain meds at that time, it was dilaudid.  I did not feel sick at all in the recovery room. It was great!  She kept asking me if I wanted to go up to my room.  I kept saying no!  She asked me why I don't want to go there and I said because I don't want to get up.  She told me they would move me on to the bed so I wouldn't have to get up.  Finally I didn't have a choice and they just started wheeling me up there.  THIS MADE ME SICK!  I was pretty dizzy when I got up to my room and they helped me up and made me walk over to the bed.  I felt like I weighed 10000 pounds (Yeah they didn't move me).  I got in the bed and was super dizzy.  The nurse, Zac, was there and my aunt told him I was dizzy.  He gave me some Zofran in my IV that pretty much instantly made me not dizzy.  That was cool!

My First Roomate:
Although I was not dizzy any more I was still EXTREMELY sensitive.  Especially sensitive to light and sounds.  Let me just start by saying, I hate the tv show Judge Judy.  I had a huge headache.  The tv was booming.  Judge Judy.  Not only was the tv booming, the roomate's husband's voice was booming. I should say that I was on the neurology floor and my first roomate had some sort of memory issue. 

Nurse to patient: Do you know this man?
My 1st roomate:  Oh yes, he is a good friend.
Husband: GOOD FRIEND?  I am your husband of ?? Years!! (Starting to freak out going on and on.)
Roomate:  Sorry I cant remember I dont know I dont know anything. (OVER AND OVER)
Husband:  I am your HUSBAND, HUSBAND (Over and over booming)
Roomate: I'm sorry, I don't remember, I don't remember (crying)

Judge Judy was still booming in the background.

I don't know exactly what happened after that, my aunt was feeding me ice chips and I got an ice bag.  Finally the first roomate left and that was the best thing ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I had peace and quiet for about 2 hours and then about 8:30pm I got a new roomate.  Her name was Vickie and she had a lumbar fusion.  More to come soon......

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I am starting this blog for multiple reasons.   The first reason is so that I can keep an account of my feelings before and after my surgery.  The second is so other people that are about to undergo this surgery will have something to read, so they somewhat know what to expect.


I have been having neck, shoulder and upper arm pain for approximately 4-5 years now.  The first time I can remember neck pain was when I was at my senior all night party and did a bungee run bounce house type game.  I got whiplash.  I do not know that my injuries ocured from that point, but what I do know is- I will never do another bungee run game and I recommend other people don't do it as well.   The following fall, my freshmen year of college, I always felt like I had a tight neck and shoulders, but there was not much pain associated.  The following year I was working diligently on my HRD 423- Instructional methods project and my neck, "went out"  This was the first time I experienced the excruciating pain in my neck and shoulder.  Over the next few years I was still very active but oftentimes my neck would go "out".  It started 2x a year, then maybe 4x a year, last year it went out about 6x.  This year in January my neck went out again, and it never really got better.  I used to have the excruciating pain for 2-3 days and now it stays for over a week.  In between the excruciating pain I still have pain, especially in my left shoulder blade, pretty much when I do any kind of activity.   I never know when my neck is going to go out.  I can feel fine, reach up to dry my hair and BAM.  Panic strikes.  My neck is out.  This was very problematic especially with my job as a manager in a busy restaurant.  In January, when my neck went out, I arrived to work and my boss sent me home and to the doctor.  I went to the Dr and she prescribed muscle relaxants and PT.  I started taking the muscle relaxant at night and did not go to PT.  I didn't think that would help and it was expensive.   Not even a month after this the severe pain came back.  I had to do inventory that day too!  I went back to the dr and got the prescription for PT again and started to go to PT.  At first I thought it was helping a little, but really it wasn't.  I should mention that even when I am not having severe pain I am still having pain.  The worst pain is right behind my shoulder blade in between my spine on the left side.  I also get very bad muscle spasms where i can feel that entire left shoulder blade move and pull on the neck, right when it is about to go out.  I get massages from a massage therapist friend and while that helps relax the muscles that does not fix the underlying problem. EDIT: I am going to also mention that I became very depressed from the pain. At 23 years old I felt my life was pretty much over.  How am I going to have children and take care of them (Not that I want children now, but for the future)?  How am I going to continue my career at Panera, I felt as though I wasn't as good of a manager as I used to be because I couldn't do as much as I used to be able to.  Pain is also very distracting.  Thinking thoughts of depression and pain can really consume a person.  I felt as if I couldn't go to grad school because I was having a hard enough time working and not going to school.  I used to work full time and go to school full time!  Now I felt as if I could barely work full time.  When I got home I couldn't do anything I enjoyed like bike riding, I quit hockey, everything caused more pain.  (End of Edit)    Anyway... My pain came back full force and with the reccomendation of my mom I made an appointment with neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Croissant.  Many of my family members had successful surgery from him in the recent past.  I went back to my primary doctor because the pain was so bad.  He prescribed pain killers and xrays.  I had the xray done and the only thing that showed w as a reversal of the normal lordatic curvature of the spine and scolosis.  10 days later I had my appointment with Dr. Croissant.  He watched me walk, did some reflex tests and asked me about my pain.  He then ordered an MRI.  The following day I had an MRI.  Although MRIs are not supposed to be painful, it was hard laying in the position they requested.  I did it, and got it done, but it was painful. EDIT: I should mention that my MRI results said, "C4-5 small left paracentral disc protrusion resulting in mild left forminal stenosis."  When I saw these results I was very scared because my pain was no where near mild, I wasn't sure if I was just being a wimp.  I was scared because if this is mild.... how much worse can it get!?  In a couple days I had another appt with Dr. Croissant.  He looked at my MRI and said the levels look normal except c4/5.  The disc is pushing on the spinal nerve and also causing stenosis.  He again asked me where my pain was and then said he could do an ACDF surgery (Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) and it would be a 90% chance that would take care of the pain.

I was in shock when I heard the news so I didn't really know what to think about it.  I went home and did a lot of research, learning more bad than good about the surgery.  I also talked to all my family members that had the surgery- and they had nothing but good to say about the doctor and the procedure.  I talked to work about it and after about a month, scheduled the surgery.  

After scheduling the surgery I was still (and am still!) very nervous and hesitant to have it done.  Time has flown since then and here I am, writing a blog on the day of my surgery.  June 23rd, 2011. 

I am leaving in 35 minutes.  I have my bag packed and I am ready to go!!  Very nervous!

I'll let you know more as soon as I can.......