Cervical Spine Fusion (C3-C6)

As each day passes the pain comes and goes. Some days I feel like a run and play all day. Yet on others days I can barely get out of bed and I have to push myself to function. It is scary to not to know what will happen next.
A few months ago I faced a new discovery that my spinal cord was being compressed in three areas in my cervical spine. This was discovered after suffering from headaches every day for about 6 mos. as well as diminished function in both arms and hands as well as a visual disturbances. Often I could not even pick up a pen without pain or inability to grab things. My arms often tingled and felt heavy. My vision fluctuated so much that on some days I could not even see my computer or read a book.
I was already taking Gabapentin for the spasticity in my legs. So this was increased to see if it would help. As for my headaches, everything was tried to stop them. I even endured weekly injections of Lidocaine into the back of my head at the base of the skull on each side. The headaches were relieved for a few days at a time, but always came back. I was placed on combination of Amitriptyline and Zanaflex to see if it helped with the pain and muscle spasms. The medications made me so sleepy that I could not function for the first week. After the first week I was able to function a bit better and some of the pain subsided. Losing some of the symptoms was a relief.
The neurologist finally suggested an MRI because the symptoms were getting worse even with the medication. About a week after the MRI I was called and asked to come in. I was told that they had found that my spinal cord was compressed in three areas in my cervical spine. I was referred to a Neurosurgeon.
On my first visit to the neurosurgeon it was suggested that I needed surgery. By this time I was willing to try anything and agreed to have the surgery. It was explained that I would have an incision made to the front of my neck (about 2 inches long), and that three disks would be removed and replaced with cadaver bone grafts. Then the doctor would insert a metal plate with screws and fuse my vertebrae from C3 to C 6. I would have to wear a hard cervical collar and not be able to drive for six weeks. This all sounded scary, but I knew this was the only way I might get relief.
Having the surgery was a great decision. I only stayed in the hospital one night. I was able to get up and move the same day of the surgery. The pain was minimal. I followed what the doctor said exactly and wore the collar and did not drive for six weeks. I noticed immediately that the headaches were gone. After about the first week the pain in my arms was gone. Slowly the strength that I lost in my hands and arms returned. I was told there was a possibility of limitations of mobility in my neck. I am glad to say that I have none. I am so blessed.
It has now been 4 months and I have had no headaches, my vision has finally stabilized, and I can use my arms and hands without limitations. I now have a small scare on the front of my neck, but that is a small price to pay for what I have gained. I am still facing further surgery to correct the Arachnoid Cysts I have in my Thoracic Spine. God had truly blessed me with a great Neurosurgeon and family who are in this with me.

Published by Denise Rogers

I am a wife, mother, stepmother and grandmother who enjoys spending time with family and friends, crafting, gardening, and I am learning to live with being disabled. In 2017, after my 8th thoracic spinal surgery, I lost all feeling from the waist down as well as losing my proprioception on the right side. This has made it difficult to stand without assistive devices and made it, so I am having to relearn to walk. Plus, I have another uncommon condition called Chiari Malformation Type 1 which also creates balance issues as well as many other health issues. Because of the Chiari and the spinal cord injury, I have been left with severe nerve damage which causes a great deal of pain (5 and greater on pain scale) as well as spasticity, muscle spasms, and allodynia (burning) in various areas of my body. I have endured 8 surgeries on my Thoracic Spine and will probably need more as the drain that was placed will eventually clog and require replacement. Currently, I have a spinal to pleural cavity shunt, which drains the CSF from my arachnoid cysts into my pleural cavity. Professionally, I am a retired Health Care Professional with over 26 years of experience. I have worked in the Public Health realm as well as in Long Term Care and Acute Care. I have a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work. It is my hope that through sharing my personal trials, experiences, and triumphs that I can help others keep moving forward. No matter what life throws at us we can always tell a better story. I know that God is with me and because of this anything is possible. His promise to be by my side every step of the way helps me to keep pushing on even when there are setbacks.

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