Cervical Fusion (Neck) Surgery next month – hold me!

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I have had several surgeries in the past – carpal tunnel release in both hands, surgery on both shoulders and I have also had my gallbladder removed. My last surgery was about 5 years ago – one of the hands. For some reason, I was not scared with any of these surgeries, but I am TERRIFIED about the neck surgery that I will need very soon.

I went to a spine doctor and he told me I needed surgery pretty quickly. He called me “remarkable” – and not in a good way. I opted for a 2nd opinion, and went to the doctor that performed my husband’s back surgery. I really like this doctor and feel he did a good job with my husband, and I liked his bedside manner. The 2nd doctor said pretty much the same thing – that my problem is severe and that I need surgery sooner rather than later. My spinal cord is severely compressed and doing surgery soon will reduce the risk of permanent damage. He advised me not to drive (or be in a car) anymore than I have to, as if I got rear-ended or jolted, it could be very bad.

Honestly, I cannot remember all of the technical terminology, but my neck is a mess at C5-6 and C6-7 levels. He wants to go in an clean them up, remove bone spurs and do a 2-level fusion. He also wants to harvest bone from my hip (Iliac Crest) to replace the discs, as supposedly it will fuse better than if donor disc is used.

I am scared. Really scared.

As if the neck surgery isn’t bad enough, I have heard horror stories about the bone harvesting, and it causing pain for years afterward.

My MRI showed:

Several bone spurs – big ones apparently. The X-ray clearly showed them (the MRI didn’t very well).

cervical compression,C5-6,C6-7,cervical fusion

This is the part that concerns the doctor the most – see how there isn’t much white around the spinal cord? That is where the compression is occurring.

cervical,bone spurs,surgery,fusion,MRI

The photos below are looking down my spinal column (neat right?). You can see that above and below the affected area, that the cord is round and white (as they should be).

spinal canal,looking down,disc

In the photo below, my cord is smooshed. Almost completely smooshed. The doctor wants to go in and “clean up” around the discs, remove the bone spurs and then fuse the discs (Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion).

cervical cord compression,surgery,fusion,MRI

I will be seeing the doctor again on May 23rd and I imagine we will be scheduling surgery asap. I am so nervous, but am also ready to just get it over with. I have so many questions for the doctor, now that I have had time to think about it and do my research.

Surgery would require a two night hospital stay, and recovery time would be several weeks. I would have to wear a collar for two months, and my activities will be very limited. Which sucks. I have a really hard time just sitting around doing nothing! I am so grateful to have a great group of contributors though, who will take care of Eighty MPH Mom in my absence. I will post more about that later, and I will also chronicle my pre-op, post-op and recovery.

Have you had neck surgery? Do you know anyone who has? What were your (or their) results? I would love to hear about this – I want to know it all, so I can be prepared and/or armed with any and all information.

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About Author

Jennifer Regan is the owner/editor-in-chief of Eighty MPH Mom, a family-friendly blog. She is active in Brand Ambassadorships and campaigns, and is active in social media, helping brands promote!

12 Comments

  1. I myself have never had neck surgery and hope you have a great outcome. The pictures are pretty neat but also kind of scarey. I am having an ulnaa nerve release soon and another hand surgery which is scarey enough but neeck surgery wouldd bother me too!

  2. Robin Wilson on

    I just wanted to let you know that my hubby had this same surgery at the same place in his neck! I was telling my hubby about you and he said to tell you good luck. Though he used a donor ( neck surgery was all he wanted to recover from) and he had NO issues with heal time. I could sugar coat it, but when he woke up he was in the most pain I have ever seen. Not trying to scare you, just wanted to make sure they had some good stuff ready for you! He is doing great now, no issues whatsoever and that was probably 15 years ago. I will be thinking of and praying for you!

    • I appreciate your honestly – I want to know all there is to know. I hope they do have the good stuff ready, as I think I’ll need it! I am glad he healed quickly though, and please tell him thank you for the good thoughts (thank you both!).

  3. TRY not to be scared…I know it’s easier to say than do. I had two back surgeries, shoulder surgery, 4 foot surgeries, and more…so I know the stress that goes into this. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to drink pineapple juice every day before the procedure, because it has some great properties that help the healing process. I am not a doctor, but I did do this prior to my 2nd back surgery and my foot surgeries…and I can tell you, I noticed a difference. Even if it doesn’t help the healing process, it can’t hurt. It’s PINEAPPLE! After my second back surgery, which was on a Tuesday, I went back to work the following Monday. Two days after the surgery, I drove my kids to basketball practice and did laundry. So, I stand by it.

    That aside, I’ll be pulling for you! Hang in there. Try to keep your stress level down so you can be at your best, health-wise, when the time comes. *hugs*

    • Gosh and I thought I had a lot of surgeries – you’ve got me beat! I haven’t heard of the pineapple juice before surgery idea before, but I am willing to try it. That is amazing that you were back to work so quickly after your second back surgery!

      Thank you for stopping by and for your good wishes – I appreciate it!

  4. *hugs* Please know that you have all the support I can give from afar. I love you and am here for you, friend!!

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