I know it's early days after the surgery, but I wanted to share that my surgery was an instant success with some continued incremental improvement in nerve function of my calf.
I'm nearly 8 weeks post-op and am just starting to consider taking group exercise classes like barre3 - not yet ready for pilates where there is more unavoidable bending and twisting. I've been doing physical therapy once a week for 4 weeks but am not taking it very seriously - don't like it. Walked daily for the first 4 weeks post op but stopped doing that. I went back to work at a desk job after 4 weeks off and have a sit-stand desk and a saddle stool to make it easier on my spine.
Over a month before my surgery, I injured my back seemingly in my sleep. I'd felt it "acting up" for a month or so before this. I woke up and couldn't walk. Well, I could walk for about 20 seconds and then collapse flat to the floor in pain. Only laying down was tolerable. So I had an epidural injection. Waited a week in bed and it finally started to work. I could now go back to work, walk and sit without much pain (except the left leg) but I had a limp and could only walk at a snail's pace. I thought I just needed to give it time to heal. I was ready to petition for a handicap sticker since errands were no longer possible given how long it was taking me to walk across a parking lot.
I've actually had back problems for years with my first MRI three years ago that showed three bulging discs. It's degenerative and may have started with a trampoline injury I received as a grade schooler plus years of ballet. Conservative measures and fitness had worked up until this point. Finally, my doctor ordered an MRI and it was revealed that one of the bulges was much bigger and was impinging on my nerves/filling the entire canal.
In the interim - I tried myofascial massage and chiropractic which didn't do much to help. That doctor was actually annoyed when I told him I had decided to have surgery because he thought he could massage the disc off the nerve...in a year. He'd treated a 10mm bulge once, he said. We'll, by the time I woke up from surgery I learned that I'd had 3cm of disc removed. It was one of the largest herniations the neurosurgeon had ever seen. Even in the consultation he had referred to it as a "massive blowout". So, no. If I'd listened to the chiropractor, I'd still be significantly disabled and likely with irreversible nerve damage. I'd shown him the old MRI but he never asked to see a new one which would have been important since my new symptoms involved semi-paralysis and numbness. As I liked to say - I always thought I'd have to have spinal surgery, I just thought I could put it off for a few more decades. I'm 34. No such luck.
I wasn't too worried about the surgery because the neurosurgeon was very skilled and accomplished, and I had a spouse to take care of me. I would like to have learned more about a disc implant since I feel that could have been a better option given how little disc I have left and that the rest of the spine is now more compromised due to the lack of disc in one section.
I woke up from the surgery and felt no pain. Only getting up to use the bathroom felt like a dull ache in the surgical site. Log rolling in and out of bed wasn't fun. Most of my movement had returned and my left leg was pain free. I tried to stay on the pain meds the first three days just to avoid...pain. It was a really good experience other than the fear of it happening again and requiring a fusion or something, somehow, "worse". The hospital was a friendly place recommended by the surgeon.
I have been very careful to avoid lifting, bending, reaching, twisting thus far - even longer than some say is necessary. I plan to wait 4 months to do any heavier lifting or twisting and maybe pilates and possibly up to 8 months to return to dressage if I even do. The first date is based on disc scarring and second from what a therapist told me is likely. My husband thinks it was caused by the horse riding, but each doctor I spoke with said you couldn't say for sure what did it - I hadn't been doing it for a month prior to the injury.
So, what's left to recover from? A little more weakness in one calf than the other. Numbness is mostly gone - some tingling in two toes. Losing the 8 pounds I gained over the ordeal and not working out. Getting back in shape. Haven't yet attempted to jog or run. Not sure if I'm able yet and never liked to anyway.
To conclude, I appreciate the posts of others and wanted to offer my experience as a positive one (so far) for people who are wondering what the future may hold for them.