Good day all.
I've been reading the forums and have gotten some great information from all the posts.
I held off asking questions until a confirmed diagnosis and what type of surgery I'll be having.
I'm a 45 yo male firefighter, metro Boston area, 25 yrs. on. Injured my back during auto extrication on duty in 2000. Have done PT multiple times, lots of steroids oral and injections, simply exhausted all the band-aids and have lived with lower back pain for about 10 years. In June the pain and numbness into my groin and down both legs was just too much. My usual ability to find a position of comfort was gone. MRI's since 2000 up to the present show classic DDD in L5-S1. Discography last week confirmed I'd need an L5-S1 fusion on the 17th of Jan. The date is important, I'll explain in a bit.
The surgeon said the discography moved the percent of "successful" surgery from 70-80%. I'm not expecting any miracles but hoping for some relief. The surgeon says 3 days in the hospital post surgery. Is that set in stone or will I be able to sneak out after 2 days without complications and cooperating with staff?...Big plans that Sunday afternoon!
My other question is about returning to full, unrestricted firefighting duties. We do not have light duty. You are either unrestricted without limitation or disabled. I have been told some firefighters do well and return to full duty and have had successful careers. My guess is these are younger men or women, better in health, with a better chance to heal and the mind set of returning to the job they love as quickly as possible.
Being 45, still in decent shape, having served 25+ years makes me wonder if my surgery situation means a different prognosis or mind set for returning to working as a firefighter post PLIF. Am I willing to put myself at risk of re-injuring my back 4 years later after hauling hose or twisting during an extrication? Now I'm back at square one and closing in on 50yrs. old.
This is the hardest thing I'm dealing with...the question of will, or even SHOULD, I go back to a job I don't really miss that puts me at vey high risk of injury. Again, this injury is work related, so that's another factor in my decision to going back firefighting.
Sunday afternoon is the NFL AFC Championship games..that's 1-20...I'm having surgery the 17th...am I going AWOL or is there a chance I get discharged Sunday without complications, of course?
Any input from similar aged firefighters facing disability or others having this surgery is thanked in advance!