I was an x-ray tech for 15 years. I used to take the x-rays in spinal fusion surgeries, so I've seen them done--at least the way they did them till '96.
I fell coming out of surgery in 1995(going to a darKroom to develop films), on a newly waxed floor, and hurt my neck the first time. I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome.
In 1996, I was working in a medical office, and a second fall a year later caused disc ruptures at C5, C6 (bad enough for surgery) and C6, C7 (not immediately bad enough for surgery) as well as at L5, S1 (still, hopefully, not bad enough for surgery). I had a fusion at C5, C6 in 1997 and a fusion at C6, C7 in 2001.
I had to go back to school, and got a degree in English, because the neurosurgeon told me I was going to have to find a way to make living with my head, because I wouldn't be able to make a living with my back anymore. When I finally found a way to make a living with an English degree, it was three years, ago, just as I was being told that I needed a third surgery at C4, C5. The pain was ungodly, I was in Pain Management, having regular epidurals and taking Percocet and none of that was cutting it any more.The neurosurgeon told me I would lose right shoulder movement for at least 6 months, but no more than a year, after the surgery, because of the level--that's where the shoulder nerves are.
Another surgeon told me the problem "wasn't surgical."
I talked to my sister, who had gone to teach in Arizona with her English degree. I was very concerned about the surgery, because I lost my voice for 9 months after the second surgery, because of damage to a vocal chord.
I decided to see if I could put the surgery off for a while by moving to a much drier climate, and seeing if the pain got better. It did, for a while.
This year, I have been having one fall after another, at least one good one every month, no matter how careful I am. The pain has gotten much worse in my neck, back to unbearable again, and I have a lot of numb spots and muscle spasms. My right foot doesn't seem to listen to me. I can't feel the bottom of it very well.
Anyway, sorry this is so long. I am going to a have an MRI Tuesday, to see if I have progressed to stenosis or whether I have something like MS going on. I have a persistent pneumonia since July that is complicating everything, and that almost killed me, so surgery may not be an option anyway. I haven't worked in months now.
Sorry to be such a bummer. I really am glad to be breathing and getting pain management again.