The last update I made about my back was how I was still in constant pain after my surgery. The next suggestion from my surgeon was to have a spinal fusion. This would entail removing the protruding disk, inserting a spacer, and fusing the vertebra together above and below it, with rods. That is a scary proposition because it's a more serious surgery and has a longer recovery time. I wasn't too thrilled with this, but considering how much this herniated disk is disrupting my life, what are my options? The interesting thing, however, is that the pain has completely moved to my left side. My chief complaint before surgery was pain on the right side. So, this means the diskectomy technically worked because it removed the protrusion on the right side, but now I have a protusion on the left side. So, same level of pain as before, just in a different place.
This might help you understand what I'm dealing with:
See that piece of crap disk towards the bottom of the picture that is infringing on my spinal nerve? There's supposed to be a nice, smooth white line running down this pic, and instead there is a bulge in that spot where the arrow is pointing. That is causing all my problems!
Before deciding to proceed with an additional surgery, I went to get a second opinion from another spinal surgeon. I brought my post-surgery MRI and they took back x-rays and examined me. This surgeon didn't think a spinal fusion was the next best course of action. He actually recommended that I get another diskectomy, just on the left side this time. He also thought an epidural steroid injection in the meantime might be worth a shot. I've had two of those in the past, on the right side, with no improvement. Since the process and recovery on those shots is pretty simple, and my insurance is excellent, I figured I might as well try it.
This past Monday I had the epidural steroid injection on the left side. That day and the day after, I had soreness in my back, which was expected, and no nerve pain on the left side. This was short-lived, and the pain returned on Wednesday. I'm back to feeling the same things I did before the shot. Honestly, I didn't expect the shot to work, but I really wished it had! I was hoping it would magically calm down all the inflammation around the protrusion, and give the disk a chance to work its way back where it's supposed to be. No such luck. The next step is going back in for a follow-up, and talking about when I should schedule the second diskectomy. I need a break. For real.