On Monday, my surgeon recommended spinal fusion. He presented it not as a tragedy, but as a great hope for an end to my disability and pain. He said I should make a great recovery and get back to all my activities, and that with new minimally invasive techniques, the recovery won't even be that bad. He said I could still go on the vacation I have planned in early June. I scheduled the surgery for next week and felt fairly peaceful about it.
Today, I went through an agony of indecision. This agony was greater than physical pain. I spent hour upon hour googling, reading studies and news stories and message boards and any fucking thing I could find. I read many things three, four, five times. I went for a second opinion, and that doctor recommended a more conservative approach--another surgery like the last that will, almost certainly, eventually fail. The only question is whether it will be weeks, months or years. He said that 80 percent of fusion patients do well, and 20 percent suffer permanent disability. I talked with another of my surgeon's patients--who also happens to be the OBGYN who delivered Mia--and he told me to have the fusion. I did nothing but think and talk and read and fret about my back.
It comes down to this: I am in a shitty position. I have to make a decision without knowing the right answer. I am in a place with no guarantees, with no true ground under my feet. I have to make an educated guess that could have a huge impact on my future, and simply hope against hope that I fall on the right side of the odds this time. I have to trust that things will unfold as they are supposed to, and that I am not in control here. If I were, I wouldn't be in this spot to begin with.
So here is my plan for getting my act together and finding some kind of peace. These are my rules, which are ironclad:
- NO MORE GOOGLING. I have read every bit of relevant information on the web, and reading any more is sure to have only one effect: Driving me fucking insane. If you catch me on a back pain message board again, even if it's a thread about success stories, please shoot me.
- Step back from this for a day. Let things percolate, but don't read about it, don't talk about it. Let it be.
- Spend time in meditation and remembering what I have to be grateful for.
- Get one more opinion on Thursday and then make my decision. Stick with it.
- Remember that the present is just as valuable as the future. I don't want to make a decision that means giving up the ability to lead a full life now. Now is important. I don't want to think in terms of "getting by" for another few years.
- Accept risk and uncertainty as an inevitable part of life.
- NO MORE GOOGLING!