Here it goes. I've dealt with back pain for the past 7 or so years. I'm a slightly overweight 30 year old female but otherwise healthy. Until last December, I had had no doctor take me too seriously about my back pain. I had a herniated disc at L4-L5 in August of 2010. I healed from that meaning that I had no more pain in about 6 months. I went back to work 1 week after disc was herniated. Lo and behold, I started having pain again in August of last year. It started out mild and my PCP thought I had arthritis or something mild. She tried ibuprofen, Ultram and finally Lortab in December before I got relief. After a couple of refills, she sent me for a MRI in January. Her nurse called a few days later and said "Your back is pretty screwed up. You need to see a specialist." I made the appointment for my neuro for February. I had to get a copy of my MRI. When I looked at it, I knew something was very wrong. After some examination from my neuro's assistant, the doctor came in. He introduced himself and said follow me. He told me my only option was a fusion. It's beyond repair. He told me he didn't expect me to be walking after looking at the MRI. I was dumbfounded. Shocked. He refilled my meds and we tried epidural shots. They gave me relief. The pain in my legs was tolerable finally. He refilled my pain meds and told me if I needed anything beyond this, I would have to go into pain management. I've been in PM since June of this year. I've had 2 series of epidural shots through the PM doctor. I'm on Robaxin 500 mg 2 times a day, Neurontin 300 mg 3 times a day, Percoset 10/325 4 times a day and morphine 15 mg at night only. I have an app that reminds me to take the Neurontin and Robaxin. My body lets me know when I need the pain meds. I have a couple of concerns. First, my last set of epidural shots was at L4-L5 AND L3-L4. I had this terrible pain in my hips. It felt like a hot cattle brand was being pushed into my hips. So PM decided to try the L3-L4 level and it worked. I have a lot of relief from that. Does this mean that disc is going out too? If so, would you get it fused along with the L4-L5? Considering I went back to work and toughed it out only 1 week after the herniated disc, what is the time look like going back to work after a fusion, both 1 and 2 level? When I used the measurement tool on the MRI, it looked to be 1 mm long and 1.2 mm wide. It balloons into my spinal canal. I know I need surgery. I'm not debating that. I'm just scared $hitless (sorry for the French but that's how I feel at this point) of this surgery. I know my pain level after couldn't be anywhere near what I experience now. Going more than 6 or 7 hours without taking my pain meds is extremely difficult. One day I ignored my phone for whatever reason and didn't take anything until well into the afternoon and the pain was unbearable. I'm scared of how long I will be out of work. I have a desk job. If I didn't have this, I couldn't work or have the insurance to get this done. I'm worried because I only have 2 weeks of paid time off between sick time and vacation time. If it's beyond that, me and the hubby are screwed. My check pays for gas, food, etc and his pays the bills but barely. I put off the surgery until next March because my company's insurance plan renews then and I'm switching to a high deductible health plan so for $3000, my surgery, PT, meds, etc are covered 100%. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!