My first post here, but have been reading these forums for over a year since I first started battling the pain so many of you are familiar with. Mostly lower back pain, but some leg pain occasionally. Though my leg pain tends to be down the front of my thighs and that seems to be uncommon. Or at least I rarely find it when folks describe their leg pain.
My pain began suddenly, with no prior trauma (that I can recall anyway) and an MRI showed mild to moderate disc protrusions at three levels--L2/3, 3/4, and 4/5. I've spent the last year doing both land and water therapy, have purchased all the therapy equipment so I can continue at home, two epidurals that actually made things worse for a couple of weeks, discogram, etc. etc.
I'm fairly young at 33 and so had convinced myself that I could beat this without surgery. However, my situation continues to deteriorate, my meds continue to increase, and my latest MRI shows that levels 3/4 and 4/5 are now significantly worse. L2/3 is about the same as before, but it had been the worst level on the first MRI.
This has caused me to finally agree to at least consider fusion--most likely for all three levels. I'm finally exhausted and tired of being in pain all the time. I've been seeing the same OS and his PA for this entire ordeal and definitely want to get a 2nd opinion before I completely make up my mind. I haven't had the final surgery consult with the OS yet, as they at least want to wait until Fall so I won't have to wear the brace during this humid Tennessee summer.
Sorry for the long story, but my question is this: If you could go back to this point in time where I am now--before your surgery, before your 2nd and 3rd opinions, what would you have done differently? What questions would you have asked your doctors that you didn't know to ask before? I have seen several lists of "questions to ask your doctor" but I wonder if those of you with real experience would share what you would change if you could.
Obviously all of us are different. I actually don't think I've read of another case exactly like mine. Oddly enough, my L5-S1 level seems to be fine. I'm an obsessive researcher (took me 2 months to research which toaster to buy!) and have learned a lot, but I still feel like I'm missing some things. How do I know if my doctor is the best one for me? Just because I like him and he's done a lot of these surgeries with good success rates? Is that enough? Or should I be asking something that I haven't thought of yet?
I apologize for the incredibly long post. I will try not to always be so wordy.