BonesTwo years ago my bone scan came back showing excessive bone loss. My mother's hip broke and caused her to fall (not the other way around). That, and the scan results, put me in the high risk category, so I'm very motivated to improve my bone density.
My OB/GYN put me on daily Evista to treat the Osteopenia, but I had a severe muscle spasm problem while on it. Not surprising, considering how much jerking, twitching, and trembling I've had at various times over the years, due to my Mitochondrial Myopathy. I stayed on the Evista for two months, thinking surely my body would adjust to it, but it just kept getting worse.
(My Orthopedist suggested I try Forteo, which is a daily self administered shot, and I have not had any bad side effects with it. I've been on it for eight months now.)
MusclesEven after I stopped taking Evista, the muscle spasms didn't stop, particularly in my upper back and neck. I started upping the doses of Methocarbamol muscle relaxer and Neurontin (for nerve pain), trying to control the pain. The more pills I took a day, the more foggy I became. I couldn't function without the pills, and just barely with them.
My Neurologist did another MRI on my neck and sent me to my Orthopedist for a series of epidurals. These helped, but not consistently, and they will only do four a year. So the relief from pain was fleeting. The last epidural I had didn't help at all.
PainBy February of this year I was in severe pain all the time. It had radiated down my arm, midway down my back, and gone up to the top of my head. The headaches felt just like someone had a huge nail pressing into the top of my skull. February 25, 2015 was my turning point. I ended up in the ER with my blood pressure over 200, and my head about to explode. They brought it down with IV meds and sent me home.
SurgeryI started on Amlodipine blood pressure pills and went to my Orthopedist to ASK him for surgery. After looking at the new X-rays and MRI of my neck, he agreed. On March 24th I had Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) of C4-C5 and C5-C6. I stayed in the hospital that night and came home the next day. The hospital stay is a blur for me, because I was on a Morphine pump. About all I remember is the nurse telling me to "push the button" over and over. And I remember choking and gagging on whatever it was they tried to feed me.
RecuperationI had researched the surgery, of course, so I was aware that they go in from the front of the neck, moving the esophagus aside so they can reach the disks and vertebrae. Hoarseness is a common side effect of this surgery and often swallowing difficulties as well. For most people the hoarseness only lasts a few weeks. At first it was an effort to squeak out even a syllable or two, and everything I tried to swallow choked and gagged me. And there was more swallowing pain than I had expected. I should have known there would be considerable pain; they sent me home with a prescription for 90 Norco tablets.
It's been about six weeks now, and I'm still a little hoarse, although much better than I was to begin with. I've been using Thickit to make swallowing liquids easier since the first week at home. I'm needing it less and less now.
OutcomeThe voice and swallowing problems have been very frustrating, but become less of an issue each day. But the neck, shoulder, and back pain have diminished from 8-10 to 3-4!!! I'm no longer on blood pressure medicine, and I usually only take two muscle relaxers a day.
I was apprehensive about having this surgery, but I'm glad I did.