Re: what's your perception of pain?
Everyones perception of pain is different from one another as well as their interpretation to the pain scale. What I consider a 3/4 may be a 1 to you or a 6. Also how one is able to handle the pain differs from person to person. I use a variety of methods to help reudce my pain such as: accupuncture, relaxation tapes, pool, spa, heat, ice, biofeedback, tens unit, etc. which allows me to cope with my pain a little more.
Personally, I think there is no average pain level individuals are to achieve or meet before going ahead with surgery.
I think, my own intrepretation, you need to look instead at what it is that you can't do because of the pain and then decide if in your opinion this justifies surgery to you -- not your spouse or doctor -- but you. You are the one missing out on life or some activity and suffering the aftermath of pain.
Then - please don't take this wrong or negatively - realize that surgery is a risk. It is a big move. Sometimes with spine surgery things turn out wonderful. I had my first surgery at 17 and I lived well over 20 years with zero problems. I was able to ride roller coasters, run, lift weights, move heavy items - you might say I totally forgot about my back completely until one day in 2004 when I was playing with my children and felt a big pop.
To make a long story short, after dealing with pain for two years I had one surgery, laminectomy, which worked temporarily until I blew it out completely. Then I had another surgery - a fusion. It failed and I had to have a revision surgery and now my pain is 5x worse and I am facing another surgery.
I am sharing this with you not to scare you, not to belittle your pain, not to say that your surgery will fail, and most of all to be negative in anyway. You see, I have had successful surgery and unsuccessful surgery. I have seen and lived both sides. You need to look deep inside and ask yourself if surgery is worth the risk of it working or not working out. Can you live with you pain as it is today or can you imagine it being worse or better?
Just another way to think about things. I pray things go well for you whichever way you decide to move forward. I want you to know that I am here to support you and wanted you to think about things a little differently. Also to say that I am a believer in surgery....although it may not sound like it from my post.
Hope this makes sense.