It's been a while, but I'm back. I have a second back surgery scheduled for December 23. Yes, it's right before Christmas, but the timing is perfect. My wife has the week off work between XMas and New Year's, so she will be able to look after me without dipping into her PTO time.
Why do I need another surgery? Well, I had my single-level fusion surgery at L5/S1 back in August 2008. The surgeon removed the bad disc, did a partial laminectomy and nerve decompression, inserted a plastic cage with BMP and used two titanium facet bolts instead of the typical rods & screws.
At first, my recovery seemed to be going well. Despite still having continual discomfort, I did occasionally experience a virtually pain-free hour or two, something that has been rare over the past 20 years.
Eventually, the pain began getting worse. In late May my surgeon ordered a myelogram/CT scan, which came back clear - it did not even show any scar tissue.
After a little improvement during the summer, the pain began getting worse in early September. This was probably due my doing some contract work from home, which required sitting for longer periods of time. It could have also been due to cleaning toilets, but I was very careful, doing it on my knees, keeping my back straight and not scrubbing very hard.
By mid-October, my pain level was just as bad, if not worse than it was before the surgery. I saw my surgeon just before Thanksgiving and he said I should not be in this much pain 15 months after surgery (obviously). Since the tests don't show any problems, he needs to go back in and have a look around.
My surgeon suspects the pain may be due to the fusion not being solid, allowing for micro movements in that area. If there is complete bone growth between the vertebrae, but it is not solid, they call it a "union". He also said the pain could be due to my body not liking the metal bolts inside me.
His plan is to remove the facet bolts, clean up around the nerves, and clear out any arthritis and scar tissue. Then, he will stress the fusion segment to see if it is solid. If it is not solid, depending on the situation, he may put in more BMP and rods & screws. If it is solid, then he won't do anything else in that area, but will look around to see if he can find another source of the pain.
The nice thing is that his entire focus was not on the physical fusion, but why I still have pain.
I'll write an update post-surgery, once I'm functional enough to get back online. Thanks for listening.