Things I Can’t Do While Recovering From Neck Surgery¬†

I had a neck fusion at c6-7 and c5-6 on Monday March 20th. I was released to go home on Wednesday March 22nd. I’m wearing a neck /head gear while the bones heal from the surgery. 

There are a list of things I can’t do while I recover. 

1. Jump from an airplane. 

2. Ride a unicycle. 

3. Compete an obstacle course. 

To be honest, I couldn’t do any of that before the surgery. 

Here is the real list of things I can’t do for the next 6 weeks. 

1. Bend down to pick up anything. I ordered a reacher on Amazon that will let me grab things off the floor. 

2. Lift anything over ten pounds. 

3. Twist or turn my neck. My wife had to rearrange the living room furniture so I could look directly at the TV. Any visitors have to sit facing me directly for me to see them. 

4. Get impatient and try to speed up the process. Recovery is a process and will take time. There are breathing, stretching and walking exercises I can do. But time will not be rushed in the process. 

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Preparing for Surgery Today

How you prepare for surgery depends on who you are. 

If you are the patient you can stay up relatively late. Of course you can’t eat after midnight and you must arrive on time. You may or may not be nervous depending on the procedure. You are more receptive and aware of people praying for you than normal. You’re going to be asked your name, date of birth, and what procedures you are having multiple times. You’ll wear a drafty gown. It will be annoying. Finally you will have a needle inserted in your arm with medication to prepare you for the surgery. Then a cool ride in the bed through the halls to the surgical room. Eventually they’ll ask you to count down from one hundred and you will be asleep until the procedure is over. You’ll wake up groggy and sore. 

If you’re the surgeon you review your plan of operation for the next day and go to bed early. You must be physically and mentally sharp to avoid mistakes. You assemble your team, tools and environment. You take the skills and experience to bring healing and relief to the patient. When you are finished you will step away knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life. And you’ll begin the cycle anew. 

If you are family and friends you bring stuff to do while in the waiting room while the surgery is taking place. You might bring a book but probably won’t remember what you read. If you knit you will probably have to redo part of your work. You will probably pray for a successful surgery and for time to move quickly. If you are fortunate you will have people who join  you while you wait. You will probably see a rerun or a talk show on a small TV that provides background noise. You will see other families waiting for results for their loved ones. 

In the midst of this God is here. He’s not surprised that you are having surgery. He is with you. God has gifted and prepared this surgeon with the skills and temperament necessary for success. In the waiting room God’s presence can be felt by those who are waiting for the results. 

Today, I am the patient. Somewhere around noon I will take that ride to the surgical arena for a neck fusion at c6-7 and c5-6. But I am confident that God will be present with me, that he will bless the skills of the surgeon, and bring comfort to my family while they wait. 

Prepared

I’m preparing for a neck fusion surgery in about eight days. 

I’ve undergone numerous and rigorous tests to make sure that I am physically fit for the surgery. 

I’ve completed a variety of forms to verify that my insurance will cover the procedures and cost. 

I’ve arranged short term disability to cover a portion of my time off work. 

I’ve stopped taking medications that might interfere with the surgery. 

I’ve mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepared myself. 

I’ve surrounded myself with family and friends who are very supportive. 

I’ve a faith and trust in all powerful and sovereign God who loves me. 

The Haircut 

I had postponed a haircut for almost three months. I had made jokes about getting a perm or letting go curly or wavy in the back. I’m in my fifties but I wasn’t trying to look younger, cool, or hip. I wasn’t having an identity or midlife crisis. 

I was talking to a coworker when it dawned on me why I subconsciously was avoiding a haircut. For the last three months I had a constant pain in my neck. I had been through trigger point injections, physical therapy, and a series of diagnostic tests on my neck. I had a ruptured disk in my neck and it was painful to move. 

So I went for a haircut. I took a muscle relaxer as I entered the building and waited in line. When it was my turn I explained my injury and my need for her to be gentle. I even showed her a couple of pictures of the  neck braces I might wear after surgery. 

She was gentle. But even the careful and cautious movements brought discomfort. By the time she was finished I  was in pain. A few days later a neurosurgeon confirmed the need for surgical repair. 

I’ve learned a few lessons through this experience. 

1. We will go to great lengths to hide or manage our pain. 

2. Although we may cover our physical or emotional pain at some point it will demand to be addressed. 

3.  Our pain is a message that something is wrong. Ignoring it only postpones the inevitable.