It was my neck, not my lower back, but I had C5, 6, and 7 fused at age 58. February 2014 will be a full two years since the surgery.
Motorcycling is my life-long passion. I don't mind admitting I was VERY apprehensive and fearful of 'becoming a practical invalid' having seen a few instances and heard tell of many more horror-story results of spinal surgery.
My particular situation was all the more fretful because I didn't actually have any symptoms to speak of. I was being checked for a merely bothersome shoulder ache that I was absolutely certain was the return of soreness from a highside spill off my trials bike about 10 years earlier, which had resulted in a slightly...um...elevated outboard joint of my collar bone. On examination, the good doc told me the pain was from my neck, not my shoulder. I thought he was nuts.
Until, that is, a few weeks later when we both viewed the MRI for the first time on the same day. My spinal cord was being severely choked by arthritis. I was at serious risk of paralysis were I to have a moderate impact to my neck. The doc was astounded that I didn't have any real symptoms like trouble walking, etc. That was just before Christmas, and the surgery was scheduled for February. I told the doc I was planning a scuba trip with my son over New Year's weekend. He strongly advised me against it. (I went anyway.)
I've had typical lower back pain off and on for quite a few years, but have never really been prevented from being as active as I wanted. Suddenly, I was now really afraid motorcycling was all over for me. I thought I would not be able to look over my shoulder when changing lanes. I figured dirt riding was completely out of the question.
But I started running into more and more people who had had similar procedures. Some of them were people I knew personally, but never knew they'd had neck fusions. A few others were long-time motorcyclists like me.
Bottom line is, everything went just as my EXCELLENT surgeon said it would. Stayed home from work for a couple weeks feeling "delicate" but not in any real pain after the first two or three days. Could not drive (let alone ride) for four months simply because the doc said it takes that long for bone to become solidly healed. I did everything I was told; wore the neck collars for the duration whenever riding in the car, etc. Didn't take any chances.
Mobility of my neck improved gradually during the healing time; I didn't rush it. At the four months mark, the doc pronouced me ready to drive (and yes, to ride if I chose to, which of course I did). He grinned and said good-naturedly, "If you break anything, it won't be the part I fixed."
But here's the real thing: I'm 5'7 (plus the centimeter or so that the doc said I might gain from the high-performance neck parts--I'll claim every millimeter I can get). Over a few years leading up to the surgery I had put on that middle-age bulge and had (I'm ashamed to say) let myself get up to just over 200 lbs.
So with the surgery coming up, I figured there'd be at least a few days that I'd be eating lightly, so sort of planned to try to take advantage of that to cut back some. My better half, Nancy, took advantage of that and presented me with a recumbant exercise bike (one of the super quiet magnetic resistance kind). I started out pedaling about 15 minutes a day on a low setting, thinking my heart was gonna burst. Otherwise just stopped pigging out and just roughly counted calories, started weighing myself every day, and gradually notched up the level and duration whenever I felt ready.
I lost a steady average of around 7 pounds a month. By June I was back on my DL1000. In August I bought a new DR650. By October I was pedaling an hour a day and had reached my 150 lb goal. All my tight 38" waist pants were gone and replaced with comfortably fitting 32s". It's now a year after that, I still weigh 150 and I pedal about 80 minutes (800 calories) a day after work. (Look forward to it; kind of addicted to it.)
I feel 20 years younger. More endurance, more flexibility, more relaxed, better disposition--just better all 'round.
As for the neck, it did continue to improve throughout the rest of the year after I was released from restrictions by the doc at the four months mark. It continued to feel more and more "sturdy" even as it gained more mobility. So even though the doctors say the bone heals in about 4 months, I figure everything else associated kinda gets back in play after that. But I really don't even give it any thought now, and don't feel at all limited by having had the operation.
I really do pray your procedure goes every bit as well. For me the whole thing in total was a very surprising life change--for much the better. No exaggeration.
Last edited by JET_V-Strom; 10-19-2013 at 08:23 AM.