Hello everyone! I'm looking for advice on how to decide which route to take, since each option presented has its values and its detractors.
My case history:
July 17, 2013 - I was healthy up til then - played soccer multiple times a week, backpacked, hiked. Then, the freak bike accident - I was mountain biking and hit a root that made the bike come to a complete stop. My lower body stayed put but my upper body went forward and then back onto the seat. Somewhere in this movement I heard and felt a pop in my lower back (the "uh oh moment"). Immediate treatment was vicoden, ibuprofen, flexeril, ice and lots of laying down. The pain eased a bit.
Early Sept 2013 - Pain worsened and started radiating down both legs. MRI showed a broadbased L5-S1 herniation. Started taking gabapentin, still taking ibuprofen and vicoden as needed. Started physical therapy - core stabilization exercises, ergonomics, TENS unit.
December 2013 - Not much change - could work but couldn't drive for more than 30 minutes; limited exercise and social activity. Had first epidural - worked well for about 3 months.
March 2014 - Not much change. Had second epidural - worked well for about 3 months. Tried traction therapy and acupuncture - traction felt good while doing it but no overall change, no change from acupuncture.
April 2014 - had second MRI that showed, if anything, herniation was slightly larger.
May 2014 - had microdisectomy. Felt good for two months, but with the occasional nerve twinge particularly when lengthening (putting shoes on, etc.)
August 2014 - third MRI showed reherniation, most likely through the incision in the disc from the microdisectomy. Still on gabapentin and ibuprofen. Still doing core stabilization exercises. Still working, short driving, and minimal exercise including yoga and pilates.
October 2014 - pain increasing, so had third epidural (or first, depending on how you look at it).
End of November 2014 - pain significantly increased, increased dose of gabapentin from 300 mg to 1800 mg. Pain continued to increase.
Mid December 2014 - pain continuing to increase to the point where I can't eat a full meal while sitting (or standing/wandering), can't work, can't drive. Had forth epidural, no apparent effect. Had forth MRI that showed the herniation is slightly larger. Started taking Norco 6-8 per day. Restarted using the TENS unit. I basically haven't gotten out of bed since Christmas since my pain level averages 5-6 with bouts up to 7-8 (and I have a high pain tolerance) , except for the necessities. On good days I can walk 6 or so blocks or, if someone drives me, go grocery shopping. On bad days I've choked on food because of a pain burst while swallowing, laid down on the floor in restaurants and movie theaters because I was no longer able to tolerate sitting or pacing, crawled around the house since it hurt less than standing.
Early January 2015 - I'm on the books for a fusion at the end of the month, just so it's scheduled if I decide to take that option. I also saw a chiropractor who recommended 6 weeks of spinal manipulations with the expectation that at that time I would be in less pain and could then wait on the healing process and could avoid the surgery.
I have to make a choice - have the surgery at the end of the month or delay the surgery and see if the chiropractic and continued meds & exercises gets me to a point that I can, literally, get out of bed. I've got all the information, but I don't know how to make the decision. Have I "exhausted" my alternatives or have I not tried enough of them or let enough time pass? Advice and shared experiences would be appreciated!