• 45°

Q. What is your experience after your neck fusion?
A. The surgery is behind me. It went extremely well. Thank you for all your prayers, cards, plants and dinners. It makes recovery a whole lot easier.
The surgery was done in about 45 minutes. Isn’t that amazing? I had to stay for five hours and then I went home. I could instantly feel a positive change.
Oh, I can tell they have been “digging” in my neck, but that pain is very doable. I have been dealing with this neck issue for more than six years, and just two days after surgery I feel so much better.
My do’s and don’ts:
No driving or lifting more than 2 pounds in the first week. Because they used Dermabond, which is a topical skin adhesive that hold the wound edges together, I can shower but can’t get the wound with the Dermabond soaking wet (no swimming until three weeks past my operation date). The Dermabond will begin to come off seven to 10 days after surgery.
Benefits of this surgery (anterior cervical decompression and fusion) are the relief of pain that wasn’t relieved with conservative measures.
The weakness and numbness can take weeks to months to resolve. Risks of this surgery can be infection, bleeding, nerve damage, hoarseness, swallowing difficulty, paralysis, weakness and/or pain worse than before the surgery, spinal fluid leak.
Fortunately, I already feel so much better than I did before the surgery.
Recovery: Most patients experience a gradual lessening of pain. It is not unusual to feel some residual pain, numbness, tightness, burning or other “funny” feelings for a period of time following the operation. These sensations should lessen with time.
I am not permitted to drive for one week following surgery. After that, if I feel comfortable driving, I can. I shouldn’t lift, bend, strain, stoop, push, pull, climb or twist.
After the initial first week of not lifting more than 2 pounds, I can lift up to 10 pounds.
The only exercise I can do is walking. After my follow up appointment (three weeks after surgery), they will give me further instruction regarding activity and work.
As far as I know, I can start my swimming rehabilitation after that visit.
All in all, my surgery was very successful.
I hope my experience will help fellow back problem patients who are contemplating surgery.
My suggestion is to try everything else first to avoid surgery. If there still is no relief, surgery can be the key.
nnn
Ester Hoeben is associate executive director of the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. Contact her with health and fitness questions at 704-636-0111 or eburgess@rowanymca.com.

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