So I caved and decided to go for it. Waiting it out is not going to work for me. Based on everything I've read, most people don't regret having this done. I'm really glad for this forum, and especially all the advice for how to be careful during recovery. Anyway, thanks to everyone who's responded to my questions. I have more realistic expectations now and I'm not expecting 100% improvement, but I think I'll be better off. My main fear is of a re-herniation, and having practically nothing left of the disk. Anyway, I have a month to go still before I have it done.
discectomy in June 2010 - success! No sciatic pain, just some remaining numbness in foot. And I get charlie horses a lot.