The short answer is a four-letter acronym: ALIF, a type of spinal fusion. The longer answer is that I’ve basically run out of runway for my L5/S1 disc, and after consulting with two orthopedic surgeons, it seems that surgery is the only option that will ultimately offer relief. The date is September 21, which should give me time to do a reasonable amount of pre-op physical therapy. With any luck, being in good (or at least better) physical shape will speed up recovery time.
To say I’m not looking forward to it is an understatement – after all, I’ve put it off for nearly 30 years – but this last flare-up has lasted nearly a year and nothing I’ve tried has helped. In the past, the pain eventually subsides, but that’s sadly not the case this time around. Given the deterioration of the disc, it was only a matter of time.
The scheduled date also gives me a chance to visit my parents and brothers out in California in August, but I’ve canceled a trip to the Pacific Northwest in October, as I’ll very likely still be in recovery. While my doctor has said that I could probably return to work one to two weeks after the surgery, my research in online forums shows that the mileage varies greatly. I’ll be thrilled if I’m sufficiently recovered to enjoy our trip to Todos Santos in January. At this point, I’ll be there even if I have to be sedated for the trip.