UPDATE: I had laser back surgery on May 29 at the Laser Spine Institute. My family and I flew to Tampa, Florida, to have the tests, consults, and surgery. While there, we stayed at the Westin. We arrived Sunday, went to visit family. Our boys went kayaking and swimming in the lake they have in their back yard. We had dinner there, then checked into our hotel late. The next day, Monday, we went to visit more family. They have two boys' our kids' ages, their cousins, so they went swimming in their pool, played Legos, watched the Lego Movie, and played tons of video games, what else, right? We had a nice dinner then went back to our hotel room. They had a beach, so my oldest son and Scott went jet skiing in the bay. The other days, Scott and the boys went swimming in the bay at the beach. It was so nice to make it a two for one, not just surgery and all about me but vacation too! Tuesday and Wednesday were spent having diagnostic tests done (blood work, MRI, NCS, EMG, and epidural block). None of the doctors I saw in Georgia cared to do any of these tests, except MRI. The MRI in Georgia showed I had two bulging discs and bone spurring. The MRI in Florida showed I had one bulging disc that had herniated (torn) and was leaking chemical fluid onto my nerves, bone spurring, and narrowing of the spinal canal. The NCS and EMG were negative, but the epidural block got rid of my pain. Some funny background on that. The pain in my heels and arches comes after I have been on my feet from 1/2 - 1-1/2 - 3 plus hours, depending on what I am doing (unrelated to the Morton's Neuroma pain I also deal with in the forefoot and toes), that is, walking versus walking and bending as with house work and gardening or just sitting in a cupped position working on my laptop on the couch or in bed. I told them the epidural block wouldn't tell us what we needed to know because I would have to be doing something to bring on the pain. I asked if they had any weeds that needed pulling. They told me to do whatever it took, walk around the pond out front, pull weeds in the park...they would wait for me, and when I had "made pain" they would perform the epidural block. (I learned during my epidural walk that that's what they call it there, "making pain.") After the epidural, they have you sit for 10 minutes while they check your vitals twice, then you walk for 10-15 minutes (while the lidocaine from the block is in effect), and then you tell them what your pain level is. I started at a 5 and went down to a 0, so that told us the back surgery should also correct the problem with my heels and arches. We'll see. I'm hopeful, but if you know my history (thanks to the wrong types of shoes!)... I had surgery on Thursday. They made two tiny incisions on either side of my spine, inserted a laser probe, and burned the weed-like nerves that grow between the vertebrae joints to stop them from feeling pain if/when pinched. They made a third tiny incision on the right side of my back, inserted the laser probe, cauterized the tear, shaved down the bulging disc, and cauterized it to stop it from rebulging. While there, they removed bone spurring and debris, and widened the general area to free some nerves. The surgery itself was about 25 minutes long. I was able to walk immediately with very, very little pain, and I walk a little each day, several times a day, in my home without any problems. I know I could walk more, but they don't want me to push it. I'm pretty sure I will do just fine with the outcome of my surgery as far as my back pain is concerned. I do hope that it also cures my foot pain as well (it could be weeks before I will know for sure, since there will be a lingering of the initial foot pain present due to inflammation and previous nerve damage) but if not, at least my back will be better. I was wheeled to our hotel room after recovery. I heard story after story from people who had their surgeries there the day or two before mine, and they were telling me that their pain was gone, and they noticed it upon their first step after surgery. It is completely amazing! Unless 100% necessary, I believe traditional, open-back surgery is barbaric and inhumane in today's times. I can't believe that doctors still perform it when laser could be used instead. I know someone who had traditional, open-back surgery and couldn't walk for a couple of weeks. He couldn't work for three months, and he couldn't do Taekwondo (instructor) for six months. He has a six inch incision/scar. The surgery worked for him though, but he went through hell with the pain and having to lay on his stitches. I walked from out hotel next door to LSI and had my final appointment, checkout, on Friday. We returned home on Saturday, June 31. We had a great experience at the Laser Spine Institute in Florida. From day one, the service was top-notch. They moved us along at each of my appointments without a long wait. Each of the medical personnel were attentive to my story and my needs. I had a great surgeon too! They even had a cafe and invited us for breakfast and lunch each day we were there, whether I had appointments during that time period or not. I can't recommend them enough! If you know someone who needs back surgery, please consider Laser Spine Institute. They have five facilities throughout the United States. P.S. I decided to have the carpal tunnel release/decompression surgeries later... And I did manage to attend Georgia's IBRD too! Hey you guys, Well, looks like I am going to be having more surgery over the next few months, starting with my back, then my left hand, then my right hand, then my left foot. YES! I am a mess! My back has been messed up for a year now, and I was mostly getting better, as in getting around but with constant pain, when I reinjured my back nearly two weeks ago. (After I had planned to meet the Georgia Chapter for International Barefoot Running Day! I am so bummed.) I still have two bulging discs. We'll find out if this surgery will help with my nerve pain in my feet, since the sciatic is involved. This surgery will be laser, so it's less invasive than traditional surgery, and the downtime is minimal. I hope to have this surgery first, this month. Over the past couple of years PLUS, I have developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. It comes from too much typing for the BRS and MN Talk! I was diagnosed with CPS this past Friday after having a Nerve Conduction Study and an Electromyography. I have been dealing with pain in my hands and wrists, even and most especially while sleeping, but now I can't deal with it anymore. I will have the left hand done first, then the right. I will need some serious help with the site during this time, especially to get us through IBRD. If anyone can please step up to volunteer some time, I sure would appreciate it. Please email me at BarefootTJ@TheBarefootRunners.org if you can help. Thanks!