I had ACDF surgery in June of 2007 and I am still out of work. My neck's mobility is very limited and full of pain and stiffness. My right shoulder throbs with pain and my neck "cracks" very loudly and grinds with the smallest of rotation. The cracking is so loud that people actually feel sick when they hear it. I had an EMG performed on May 12th and the results indicated that I need surgery on my right ulnar nerve at the elbow. My hand is still numb and tingling while my 4th and 5th fingers on my right hand are very stiff and rigid. You can see the muscle loss at the web portion of my right thumb when compared to the left hand and I have lost a great deal of strength in my right arm along with muscle mass. Workman's compensation is delaying my ulnar nerve surgery even though my surgeon and EMG doctor stated that it is related to my C6/C7 work injury. I try to keep the pain meds to a minimum but still find myself taking 3-4 Tramadol a day and 1-2 Hydrocodones. I still cannot sleep in a bed and only get 2-3 hours of sleep a night. My cervical spine as well as my lumbar region is very painful every day and I have occasional severe throbbing pain at my right ankle. My voice is still hoarse and I do have a difficult time swallowing. The doctor wants me to go in for a Barium swallowing test soon. I have been to several visits with my surgeon and the IME doctor and have not received details answers to why I am in so much pain. The surgeon that performed my surgery is one of the best in the country and has performed over 10,000 neurosurgeries. He stated that my surgery was one of the most difficult surgeries he has performed because of the injury and the depth of my large neck. I am 6 feet tall 250 pounds with a 21 inch neck - a former football player.
My life has drastically changed and I feel very inadequate. I went from being a very busy quality engineer who loved being a happy, energetic, and productive Dad and husband to a person who can barely get around and usually pretty grouchy. I am not sure what to do. My attorney (thank God I hired him) tells me to hang in there. I suggest to all to get an attorney if you are injured at work. I am 43 years old and have never missed more than 5 days of work a year. This injury occurred and it has changed my life. My employer fired me 4 months ago and without an attorney I would not be collecting 60% of my pay. It is not easy losing 40% of my pay but there is really not much of anything I can do. I do have a high tolerance to pain but this constant pain is unreal. It feels like the medical professionals do not want to see or hear from you after the surgery. I do have protrusions at C4/C5 and C5/C6. I had a myleogram and EMG done and as I stated earlier the workman's comp insurance company is full of red tape. It is a waiting game. All I want to do is to return to a job and be pain free. I have facial numbness as well as arm/hand numbness and feel like I am standing in right field all by myself. Has any other person have or had a similar problem? I went from being an athelete to a person who can barely climb up or down a few stairs! It is very depressing.