I'm pretty new on this site, but I have found it to be wonderfully informative and helpful. I am currently scheduled for Spinal Fusion surgery of L5-S1 next Friday and, honestly, I'm freaking out.
My life right now is not too bad. I have pain in my back, and I am really stiff all the time, but as long as I don't do a whole list of things it is tolerable without pain medication, other than just the OTC stuff. The worst is at night, because laying down is really hard for me, and it can be almost impossible to find a position that doesn't hurt. When I do get into a configuration that is tolerable and I fall asleep, and then often roll into some other position while sleeping and I wake up sometimes screaming in pain. That makes it even harder, because I'm afraid to sleep, and I usually get 2 hour bursts of sleep all night long.
When I went to see the doctor, he discovered that in the last 2 years I have developed nerve damage in my back that effects my right leg and foot. He called it "dropped foot syndrome" and it SCARES ME TO DEATH. I know I've been tripping and falling more lately, and he explained that this can be caused by my right foot/leg being weaker and not doing what I expect it to do. It was this, more than the pain or lack of sleep, that made me decide to want surgery.
Since that decision, I've been researching like mad the surgery and the recovery and I've basically determined the following:
1) This is a MAJOR surgery that will require a long and painful recovery from (months and months).
2) I could come out of it worse off than before, to the point where my life, which is now tolerable, could become a nightmare.
3) I'm risking everything by doing this: my ability to be out of pain at least some of the time, to be able to work, to not need narcotic pain meds all the time, and to be able to go back to graduate school which I am planning for the Fall.
But, and this is the biggest part to me, if I were to lose the ability to walk because of nerve impingement or even become paralyzed if I slipped and hurt my back even more, my life would be totally ruined then too. I know I would still have things to live for, but it would be really hard to give up everything I want to do in the future because I decided not to have the surgery.
I feel trapped and really scared. Some of the posts on here and in other places read like a nightmare to me. Maybe most of the people who do Spinal Fusion have good results and don't go online to write about it, but that can't be the only reason why it seems like the overall belief about Spinal Fusion is so bleak.
I've talked to three surgeons and two non-surgeon MD's, all of them say to one degree or another "once you nerve involvement and damage, it is very serious and should be treated". I believe them, and I believe my surgeon is very good at this operation and that he works in the top hospital in the state I live in.
At the moment I'm just waiting for the surgery and prepping my house the best I can. Maybe I'm freaking out for no reason and it will all be fine. I really am trying to believe in that figure my surgeon said that 90% of Spinal Fusions are successful, but it is very hard to convince myself of this as the surgery date draws closer
I'm usually a very upbeat person and I have a positive attitude about most things, but this is pushing me into an area I am struggling to cope with.
Has anyone felt the same way? Does anyone have any advice about how to get over the fear?