I have had lower back pain for 12 years now. I have been able to manage it with ice, heat, ibuprofen, chiro, massage, and occaisional muscle relaxants. It had been acting up over a 3 week period until Sept. 27 when it felt like lightening bolt went down my left leg. My husband took me to the ER and I was hospitalized for 1 week. I was given IV morphine, valium, and steroids (which increased my blood sugar to the point of needing insulin and I am not diabetic). An MRI showed herniated disc at l3-l4 which surgeon said is sitting on nerve root. Since then, I have had 2 epidural steroid injections, 1 nerve sheath injection, PT, tens unit, massive meds, a bone scan, cat scan, and nerve test. Surgeon (whom I trust from husbands prior experience-and is not surgery happy) said he wanted to avoid surgery because it is a hard area to get at. After no relief from pain, he scheduled surgery for Dec. 1-having to adjust calendar to do it. I backed out and soon regreted it as my life consists of work and sofa. I called to reschedue and was given the date Feb 6. After nurse talked to surgeon, she called back and gave date of Jan 5 as he added me at the end of the day. The procedure he is going to do sounds minor compared to many I have read here. He is going to do a lumbar decompression at l3-l4. Here is where I am cofused-I know what the procedure means but what can I expect afterwards? Husband had it done on l5-s1 and felt great next day and wanted to return to work but couldn't because he is a truck driver with physical duties. I am a chemical dependency social worker and counselor. How soon, realistically, can I return to work? Surgeon said 1-6 weeks but I don't know if that is because I told him I wanted to return at 3 days (pushing it I know). I am new in my current couny position and don't want to lose my job due to medical reasons-still on probation, no sick or vacation time yet-not yet eligible for FMLA. Any input would be great.