Went to the doctor this morning. My MRI shows the same problems: a bulging, herniated disc at L5-S1 and bilateral foraminal stenosis at that level. The disc is now bulging more severely into the neural space on the left (this is what is causing the severe nerve pain on my left side). My disc is nearly bone on bone and for some reason won't just rupture. It's been bulging for at least 15 months. Dr. W. basically said that, after reviewing the latest MRI, it's his opinion that I'm not going to get better on my own and since it's a mechanical problem causing a nerve problem, the steroid epidural injections would be of no help to me. So now, it's just a quality of life issue- it comes down to how long I can put up with the pain. I can't anymore. So, I began the pre-op process today (it's very involved since it's such a complicated surgery and takes about a month to complete everything). I will know a surgery date on Monday morning, but it looks like it will be the beginning of September. I'm really nervous, but I know it is the best thing. I really can't go on like this. I don't think most people could have lasted this long so, I'm okay with saying "UNCLE!" It's going to be a long road though. Dr. W. will take a bone graft from my pelvis and fuse my lumbar at the L5-S1 level and then decompress the neural space on the side of the vertebrae. He will then insert screws and rods on the sides to stabilize the fusion. I will be in the hospital for four days and then be able to very slowly return to activity. A complete fusion of the bone will vary in time and is dependent on many factors, including genetics, health, how well I follow instructions :) , etc. It normally takes between 6 months to a year. I will be in a custom made back brace until that happens and unable to bend or twist. I will be able to walk, stand, and lay, but cannot sit for longer than 20 minutes three times a day. I will only be able to ride in the car on very short trips starting week two (such as church and the grocery store) until month two when I can go a max of twenty miles until fusion!
Well, that's the low down. I'll post when we have a date. Please pray for us. It's going to be a difficult time, but I am so eager to feel better!