UGH. Returned to the back surgeon today, two months after my surgery (to fuse my facet bones together at L4-5 and L5/S1). It wasn't good news. Since I'm still in considerable pain, he took more x-rays.
Then he said that my L5/S1 vertabrae are "collapsed". He says I could have a complete fusion, with hardware and also some cutting away of the bone to make some space between the vertabrae. However, he also said there is no guarantee that this would stop my back pain, and there is a possibility that it could make it worse. Not good news.
He recommended that I just stay on medication management unless (until?) it gets so bad that it pinches a nerve and I start having pain in my legs. This is really a pain (no pun intended). It makes it very hard to look for a job when you have to take pain medication every day. I asked the doctor if he could reduce my medications. He had me on a fentanyl patch, which you wear all the time and change every three days, meaning you are medicated 24 hours a day. Now he reduced it to pain pills, so at least I can take them only when I am actually in more pain than I can handle. Though it sucks not having the patches, which helped a lot, I feel more in control of my medication, and if need be (like an upcoming drug test), I can choose not to take them and just be in agony for a week. I think. I've tried it before, and it's not easy being in agonizing pain when you know there's an easy solution right in your medicine cabinet. And then I didn't get the job anyway, after all that suffering. Bummer.
Oh, well. It is what it is, and I'll just have to learn to live with it for now. I'm still considering trying out the surgery, but he didn't sound very optimistic about it working, so I'm not considering it that hard, but still thinking about it.