Im hereby fulfilling a promise I gave myself before my surgery, which is to tip the balance of real world stories at least a little bit towards the realistic situation. I remain convinced that for good logical reasons one can get a vastly skewed negative picture of the success rate/life after back surgery in general and lumbar fusion specifically. I believe this is simply because if things work, you don't bother writing about it and you just enjoy getting your life back.
But what you end up with, if you look for pre-surgery info and assurance is a horrifyingly unjust selection of people who got no relief or they are worse. Having known bad pain and disappointment, I can only wish them strong willpower, optimism, luck and not losing hope so they will eventually get better.
But if you are like me, reading up before your surgery and are just getting more and more scared, know that there are a lot of successes as well and that advice like "never let anyone with a knife near your spine" is just bs, though born out of understandable desperation.
I wont give you any specific advice, its all on the net already, ill just point out this: read up, prepare psychologically, get 2,3,4 opinions, choose your surgeon and hospital well, pay up if you can afford it, have a fighting attitude, arrange for practical help once you return home and ask for the support of family and friends. How? Look it up.
My story: herniated dics l5-s1 pressing on right sciatic nerve, months of pain in 2012, manageable, nothing for 3 years, Feb 2015 first attack, 1 month of excruciating pain, getting slightly better (able to walk for 20 mins) , middle of April second attack, pain from hell, morphine and stronger stuff, sleeping for 4 days in a sitting position. 30 April 2015 - 2 hour surgery, 3 days in hospital, pain in leg gone immediately, wound pain acceptable, no morphine used, Day 4 walking with crutches, 200 metres. Walking every day, increasing slightly, moving extra carefully. Toilet no problem. Week 2 end of tramadol, walking 1 kilometer, Week 3 - end of paracetamol, medication free, walking 2-3 km per day. Week 4-5 getting better by the day, nearing week 6 can walk at an almost normal pace, for as much as i like within what is actually necessary to live a normal day. Wound pain almost gone, things to lift feel easier, can do gentle twisting from hip to hip on a single bed, no more log rolling necessary. Stiffness that took more than a minute to go away after lying down almost non-existent. Tiny moments of the leg falling asleep gently. First check-up today, all fine.
42 years male, overweight but not in an entirely bad shape, non-smoker
Will update when I have news-worthy stuff to share.
Will try to answer questions, pls be patient.
Most of all, PREPARE, FEAR NOT, YOU CAN GET BETTER, ALL THE BEST TO YOU!