I'm alive! Thank you, everyone, for your words of encouragement! My back now looks a lot like this:
I'm still recovering but I'm already worlds better. On a good day now, I'm so much better (still healing) than even the day before surgery, which as after 13 months of debilitating pain and ever-so-slight healing since the accident.
Turns when they opened me up, my back was worse than the MRI even showed so they were very glad we ended up with the surgery route.
I'm getting better but I'm still on a lot of meds. I will seriously warn anyone to stay away from Valium. I'm one of the nicest guys I know and I would never try to harm anyone. But on it I apparently was psychotic, hearing voices, having bouts of rage and throwing things and I didn't even remember any of it. Once they took me off the Valium I went completely back to normal Chris.
It's a very strange feeling having two long titanium rods traversing my entire back. If I sit against a seat or a wall, I can distinctly feel wall, thin layer of skin and muscle, and then the metal rod inside me. And I used to use many ice packs directly on my back but I tried recently and I froze. Turns out having metal rods in your back conducts cold very well.