I had back surgery for a herniated disc like 18 years ago, and that went fine. No postoperative pain ever. But in the past couple of years I've had back pain that has steadily increased to the point that now I can hardly walk. Eventually it became enough of a problem that I decided to quit putting up with it.
Last week I visited a pain clinic, where they did an MRI of my lower back. With my past history as a surgeon, the neurosurgeon was kind to review the films with me. What a mess: (1) Several discs are protruding into the spinal canal, (2) bone spurs are sticking out from the joint surfaces of many vertebrae and narrowing the openings for the nerve roots, and (3) there is a joint cyst that is pressing on a couple of nerve roots.
The bottom line is that the nerve roots from my spinal cord are being compressed and irritated in three different ways in like a dozen places. If it continues, I'll be paralyzed. It won't happen in days, but regardless of the timing, I didn't think the eventual outcome was especially funny.
A week from today, I go into the operating room to have the cyst removed, spurs ground off, and joint space widened by a disc spacer and bone fusion. That's a lot to consider, but I choose that over paralysis. I am grateful for your kind thoughts and prayers around this potentially dangerous—and potentially beneficial—surgery. My hopes and spirits are high.