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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hello new friends!

I have been pretty negligent about posting but thankful I have no changes in circumstance to report.  I am happy to see new people have found the site and are still finding it helpful.  My current stats are exactly the same as before so I won't bore anyone with that except to say that at almost 4 years post-surgery, I am still without any pain or noticeable limitation. 

I am wondering since I am pretty far past the surgery if it would be helpful to hear from some of you who are about to have surgery or have just started recovery.  I guess what I'm saying is I'm so lazy, I'm soliciting guest bloggers!  Anyone interested, please post a comment and we can DM the details.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2 Years Still Going Strong

Whoops, I meant to put in an update marking two years in May but it passed me by somehow.  I've gotten lots of new feedback from folks who have found this helpful so I will keep at it a bit longer.  Not too much new to report which is not insignificant to me because it means I've had no return of symptoms or worsening.  I'm still using the standing desk at work for half of the day and have become a bit of an ambassador for the stand-up meeting.

One of the lasting effects from the whole ordeal is that I have gained about 10 pounds since the surgery.  Not a huge amount but an annoying extra chubbiness primarily because I still haven't found a replacement for the easy exercise fix I used to get from running.  The other permanent effects are the restrictions on how much I can bend and rotate my neck.  In case you're interested, I uploaded two short videos (uploaded to the Photos section).

I would love to hear from any of you who have had a return to greater range of motion.   Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

12 months post surgery - Status Update

Somehow this year got past me without a timely update which must speak well for having been able to get on with things not letting my neck hold me back.  I've met so many who have had this same surgery in the past 12 months but alas, not many are blogging or posting on message boards to share success or positive outcomes.

In case prior posts were equivocal, let me say again plainly - I could not be happier with how the surgery went, my recovery and return to normal activity.  The constant nagging ache in my neck and shoulders is gone and I have regained the grip strength and function in my left arm which I had lost.  My neck around the incision has almost fully regained sensation after being numb for about 10 months.

I have had two instances where some similar pain returned for a few hours - both times I was doing activity I knew would probably cause problems (repetetive lifting heavy boxes and then driving for long distances and high intensity exercise classes).  So, I have to say there are simply some things I can do but should and do not because they can bring back some arm pain.  I have stopped running altogether, do not lift more than 25 pounds or so and in general avoid high impact movements like trampolines, roller coasters, etc.

I'm only 45 so the prospect of needing future surgery is something I wonder about but frankly, I don't worry about it and just try to be positive about what I can do to stay healthy.  I've signed up for my first yoga class this week which is something I never thought I'd do, having spent most of my life engaged in sports that involved running and pounding.  Om?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

6 Months Post Cervical Fusion - 1 bump in my neck, 1 in the road

Haven't posted much lately because I have nothing to complain about, well, at least not about my neck, heh.  I'm calling the recovery phase officially over since I'm about the same as I've been for a couple of months.  I'd call it a better than expected recovery but it is a slightly reduced mobility status quo which only very occasionally interferes with my getting a move on.

The best glass half full part is that my adapted work posture has made a big difference in how productive I am at work.  Moving around just a little helps keep me energized and focused: Previously when I sat all the time, I just stared out the window a lot on conference calls.  Now, I find myself multi-tasking and getting more accomplished.  If only cervical fusion somehow exempted me from conference calls altogether, that'd be something!

Bump in the road:  I took my first spin class post-surgery last week and was proud of myself for not having gotten so out of shape I couldn't do it.  Unfortunately, during the 12-minute climb (thanks, Kim at Gold's Gym!) I had a very short episode of pain in my bicep and forearm.  This was the same place I experienced pain pre-surgery so I backed off the intensity and it resolved.  No problems since then but this little bit gave me a nice small-scale reminder of how bad it was before. 

I have biked before this so I'm not sure if it was the intensity of the workout but I think it might have been related to my posture/clutching the handlebars ferociously.  I just got back from Arizona and did lots of high altitude hiking/walking with no issues so I say again, hey dummy, stick with that!

Closing in on the holiday home stretch which includes lots of travel and the usual frenzy of preparations.  Looking forward to a chance to relax away from the tinsel and turmoil!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

5 Months post-fusion: 5 star review

I don't care if its too soon for a New Year's Resolution.  I've got one and it is to conquer 2013 without surgery. It's been five months already and I feel like I'm about at my recovery plateau.  I'm sure some of it is due to my simply adapting to how things are with this new neck, but I forget sometimes it even happened.

The good: Neck movement in all directions is so good I can do everything as before.   Sleep is comfortable again, albeit with a neck pillow.  No recurrence of arm pain and my strength feels equal again.  Because it was my dominant arm, I use it all the time which has helped.  I still haven't gone back to the pain meds since stopping at about week 3.  I'm standing up for more than half the day at work which means much better posture and no neck issues even after staring at the computer for 10 hours.

The so-so: I notice the numbness in my thumb once a week or so but its very slight.  Some days I have stiffness in the back of my neck which I can forget if I'm working or occupied.  My scar is still darkened and visible and occasionally itches.  My jaw above is still the tiniest bit desensitized but it feels like the nerves are slowly coming back.

The rest: Not being able to jog has thrown my exercise schedule off and I am less active than before.  Partly this is due to changes at work but also needing more time to walk vs. run.  Still trying to settle back into a new workout schedule but so far, laziness is winning.

Also having fun meeting all my scar twins - who knew a visible neck scar would be such a great way to meet people?  All you singles suffering in pain, one more perq!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cervical Fusion - 3 months post op

So I've settled in to my new normal and I've got no complaints.  Well, mostly none.  I had my last post-operative appointment which was massively anti-climactic - no Xrays, no exam, just a lovely chat.  No news is apparently good news meaning as long as I continue to be pain-free, that's good. 

Nothing much has changed in my symptoms which remain just a smidgeon of numbness in my left thumb.  I am also a little stiff in my neck when I wake up in the morning.  Before the fusion, I used to be able to flex my neck and get a crack out of it to relieve the stiffness - not so much now.  I've also got some occasional itching at the incision and sometimes a painful twinge there too.  (Scar pic here).

I had my first long solo drive Friday for about 5 hours.  It was not delightful and I felt pretty sore afterwards.  I think it was from being in a fixed position for so long more so than from holding the wheel.  Being fairly tense because of the merciless tailgating on the interstate surely didn't help.  I worry a bit about getting rear-ended but I sure do pity the fool who runs into the lawyer who's just recovered from neck surgery!  First cross-country plane trip this week - not really relishing 8 hrs of travel plus sketchy hotel mattress.  I am now that chick who travels with her special pillow ;p

Unfortunately, I'm still not able to run - Doc reminded me it wasn't recommended but of course I tried again, same result :(  So me and the elliptical have come to terms - the terms being I crank up the elevation and essentially run on it.  I still haven't been able to get back to swimming but am determined to get in there and see how it works out.

Despite continuing to tell people my scar is from a bar fight, my fellow fusion patients usually figure me out.  After we play "who's got the gnarliest Xray", we swap tales. (BTW who keeps their Xrays on their iPhone??).  Based on what I've heard, lots of others have not had as easy a recovery and 3 weeks back to work is pretty good.  After a fairly rough year, my display of dedication by going back to work early may pay off if I get the promotion I've applied for...fingers crossed!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

12 Weeks: My titanium neck rocks the beach and saves the day

After postponing a trip in July, I finally got to the beach this summer.  The 8 hour drive was a breeze, no neck problems at all.  Well, that's if you don't count the crick I got in my neck from watching the bikes bounce around on the bike rack the whole way ;p.

We started off in Georgia for 5 days at The King and Prince on St. Simon's Island.  My first test was the daily biking around the island. No problems at all and it was awesome to be able to enjoy the area without pain or limitation.  We last went to Florida in March before the fusion and it was frustrating, to say the least. I couldnt play tennis, jog or kayak. I think to prove how well I was doing, I made sure to fit all of that in. Yep, I'm that girl.

We kayaked in the ocean for an hour and it felt great. I've not done very much at all with my arms so this was a good test for me.  Paddling felt great and my arm strength was as good as ever, as far as I can tell.  There was a huge sandbar at the beach so we decided to swim to it at low tide. I had no trouble swimming across, it was about 25 yards. Although both kids had boogie boards, the youngest started to struggle. He was with my husband who is not much of a swimmer, unfortunately.  So after I got across I looked back and saw him just kind of floating with the current pulling him away from us.

I ran out, dove back in and swam with my head above water straight out to him. I kept talking to him to reassure him I was going to get him.  Once I got there, I grabbed his board but realized the currents were much stronger there.  Even with both of us kicking holding the board, we made no headway.  I took off my water shoes, rested them on the board and side-stroke kicked as hard as I could towing him behind me. After about 5 minutes, I was able to get us back to shore.  He was pretty upset - a mixture of scared and embarrassed. After he settled down, I gave him and my husband a lecture about water safety.

Next up, South Carolina! I got the chance to practice my lying around in the sand skills.  Happily, they and my tanning superpowers are unaffected! Going to give golf a try...maybe titanium neck plate + idyllic location will finally give me some game.

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I'm 43-years old, married mother of two boys. I work full-time but the daunting prospect of 6-ish weeks of recovery has led me here. How much TV can one person watch?

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Medical Details If You Must

Two-level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion scheduled for May 29th. Herniated discs at C4-5 and C5-6 indenting the cord with significant kyphosis.

I am not a medical professional. The information contained in this blog is not intended to be nor is it medical advice. Nothing contained herein should be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional.