I don't really know where to start this letter. I'll just jump in, I guess. Nov 10, 09 I had an epic 12 hour PLIF with instrumentation on the L5-S1 joint. I spent the next four months in a TLSO and about every three months, I'd see my NS for a "check-up". He'd look at an x-ray, pick up on my feet and tell me that the hardware looked to be in place and tell me to come back in three more months. He always discouraged me going to PT and recommended rest. I did resume some activity over the year; I ride my riding mower, little rides on my motorcycle (bad, I know), and I walk about every day. All along, though, I could tell something wasn't right. If I pick up a bag of cat litter, I can always feel it in my back as a smashing pain. Many little moves I can make will result in a pain penalty..sometimes instantly, sometimes the next day. I'd always ask the NS if he could see any fusion and he's always say "Nope, but the hardware is in place" Finally, I read that you really can't see fusion on a conventional x-ray, so I found a different doc who ordered a dye contrast MRI and a CT. He called last week and told me that the imaging showed only grainy, partial fusion growth at the top of the operation and at the S1, nothing.
He's referred me back to my original doctor (with the new imaging results) and told me that "I have big decisions to make..live with the pain and have a 'lifestyle adjustment' or to try another surgery and maybe it will fuse."
I guess here's my question for y'all: If I don't fuse and just rely on the screws/rods to hold me together, how will that work? How long will it last? If I go for another surgery, what's the chance it'll work? That first surgery was a real doozy, and I ain't keen to repeat that experience if I don't have to.
Any input will be appreciated! I really don't know what to do next.