C5-C6 Spinal Fusion: Ten Months Later
My pain has been greatly reduced. Prior to surgery, most days were around a 6 on a 1-10 pain scale, with the few months immediately preceding the fusion at regular 7, 8, or 9s for me-and I have a very high pain threshold. Now, I spend most days at a 2, some at 3 and a rare day at a 5 or above.
One thing that has gotten worse is back spasms. I have medication for them, but it makes me incredibly sleepy, so I do my best to avoid using it by using heat packs and stretching when I seem to be headed for one. Part of this is because I sit at my desk all day, then tend to sit doing schoolwork many nights. I'm waiting for a clearance for exercise, because I think it would be helpful to do some modified yoga.
Mobility and Flexibility:
I have pretty much learned that if I drop something, I cannot tilt my head to the side to see where it went. Basically, instead of leaning down and trying to grab a dropped pencil, I need to push my chair back and get on my knees and feel around for it.
Though it has always bothered Ed, I am a neck cracker. It is suspected that many of us with Chiari do this to relieve some of the pressure caused by the brain in what should be empty space. I do still have to crack, but it's different: I tend to bring my shoulders forward and up to crack the shoulders and a slight press on the top of my head while leaned to the left gives a little relief. The pop is different and I no longer can crack both sides-only the right. Yes-I know it's weird, but my physical therapist years ago told me if it helped, keep doing it.
I still get a knot in my right shoulder blade. It used to be lemon-sized, now it is equal to a grape.
There have been changes. I have experienced numbness in both hands, but the right hand has become much colder than the left and experiences many more episodes of twitchiness. Earlier this month, I mentioned that I appear to have developed RSD in this limb. Today, I had confirmation of that when I tried to play piano at Sam Ash.
Within a minute, the hand protested in the form of nerve pain, tingling, and numbness. In a couple of minutes, I had a frozen hand, too. Yes, this is most definitely RSD-and the bad part about this episode is that I'm still affected 8 hours later.
I'd been warned by others I know with RSD that any surgery can trigger a spread of RSD, even if yours is stable. So, I knew it was a possibility. Then factor in that my surgery was for neurological issues and RSD is a neurological disorder, my surgeon and I probably should have discussed this possibility more. I understand why we didn't-but if I need further neurological surgery, this will be the first topic of discussion.
That said, if I knew then what I know now, I would still do the surgery. My quality of life now as compared to a year ago is much better. I am not pain free, but I wasn't expecting that. My mobility is better, my pain is mostly better and I am able to get out and do more.
Next up is a visit to the neuor in the next few weeks to see what my options are for treating the RSD...