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.......