I was a frequent reader on this board about a year ago. I was terrified of having a spinal fusion, which was the last resort for my back pain. While reading most people’s posts, I noticed that most of them were negative, which really scarred me. Most of the people who have a successful procedure don’t bother to come back on here, but that is not the case with me. I’m back to tell my story because I want to give people hope.
After 15 years of low back and (right) leg pain (I am 31 years old,) I had enough. I tried epidural injections, meds and physical therapy to no avail. Sometimes it would be bearable, but the horrible pain would always end up coming back. There were times in high school when my mom would have to help me get out of bed and tie my shoes. I had enough and finally decided to get spinal fusion surgery in November of 2008. I had high grade 1 – low grade 2 (about 30%) spondylolisthesis in my L5 / S1. This had caused severe stenosis, sciatica and completely degenerated the disk between the 2 vertebra (I had no disk left… it was bone rubbing on bone.)
Before the surgery, I went for 3 opinions and finally decided on the Dr. that could do it minimally invasively. The two other doctors were completely unfamiliar with this type of procedure. It’s funny because the only reason I went to the minimally invasive doctor is because his office was close to my house. I ran into him by chance and ended up choosing him to do the surgery. My decision came down to the supposed quicker recovery and a lower chance of needing a transfusion. In a traditional fusion, lots of blood is lost and it was suggested by the other doctors, that I would need to ration my own blood for a few weeks before my surgery.
After going through the process, having the fusion was the best decision I ever made. Had I known that it would be so successful, I would have done it 10 years ago, which may have saved my college soccer career. I must also mention that I did not need or use a brace as was suggested by the other doctors. When I asked my doc about this, he actually snickered and said it won’t be necessary, but if I wanted one, I could have one.
The first week after the surgery was not easy (actually worse than I thought it would be.) But after that, it was all downhill. I was back at work in 16 days, although I do only sit at a desk. Within 7 months (June 2009,) I was back to playing full contact soccer with no restrictions. I have 2 little scars which are barely noticeable. This is the only trace of my previous problems.
I can finally sneeze without feeling like by back will collapse, run without a limp and take a shower in the morning standing on both of my feet as opposed to one foot in the air like a flamingo.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I’m from the Chicago suburbs in Illinois.