13 days ago I had a microdiscectomy that turned out to be just this side of a fusion. My surgeon and I decided on trying the discectomy first even though neither of us was certain it would do the trick. I decided that I can always go bigger and have the spinal fusion later if this doesn't work, but I'd never know if a smaller operation would have helped if I skipped it.
I had a perfectly central L4-L5 herniation in front and back. For 2-1/2 years I bounced from doctor to doctor trying different methods of treating my back pain. I tried everything from LESIs to PT to chiropractic care to narcotics around the clock to acupuncture to myofascial trigger point injections to multiple others. Nothing. I still lost a job and missed a trip to Disney World with my family because I couldn't guarantee that I could walk the park or stand in line. I still had to give up my apartment and move back in with my parents.
Two months ago I finally found a doctor who was wiling to talk surgery with me. We scheduled it and one month later the day finally came. I was having back surgery. I might be able to sit at the dinner table again. I might be able to get my niece something from the top shelf. I might be able to plan for the future. I might be able to have a life again.
Day of I couldn't have been more cheerful. I had the first surgery of the day. I was at the hospital bright and early with a smile on my face. 30-45 minutes later I was being wheeled into the OR. It was "go time." When my surgeon got in my back to see what was really there he decided that what I really needed was the fusion, but I wasn't on the docket for that, so the most invasive microdiscectomy he could do was the answer. He cleaned out everything he could without ruining the already compromised integrity of my back.
Post-surgery found me in more pain than a pill could handle. After 3 hours in recovery I was admitted to the hospital so that I could be placed on a morphine drip. I was released the next day from the hospital. It was my 3-year-old nieces 4th birthday party and I was not going to miss it.
The next 7 days were hell. I couldn’t get a handle on my pain. I could lay on my right for 30 minutes, my left for 20 and not at all on my back. I finally broke down and purchased the only Zero-Gravity chair I could find. My mom drove 45 minutes to pick it up for me and when she came home with it, I could finally consider sleeping for 2 hours.
13 days later I can walk around the house without a walker. I don’t yet know if I will have long-term relief from pain, but I’m glad I went this route. I am only 28 and I was not ready to set aside months of my life to recover from a surgery that I may never need. I have my post-operative visit in 7 days. Who knows, maybe I’ll walk into the office without any aid?
I don’t want to scare any off of surgery, but I do recommend looking at the alternatives. A knife is a knife and your back is an important part of your body. You have to think long and hard about putting the two too close together!