Re: Never going to be the same L5 - S1 spinal fusion
Welcome to the board. I am pleased you found us, but am sorry for the reason. I hope you will find some support here and maybe a little information that might help.
It is very frustrating when a surgery ends up with less that desired results. When you say your leg doesn't work part of the time, do you mean there is a weakness or do you have a "drop foot?"
My first surgery of any type was a fusion at L4-L5. I too had spondylolisthesis. My surgery was considered a success and the recovery was uneventful, but my sciatic and nerve pain never really changed. I was no worse after I recovered from the surgery but, I was no different. You are sufficiently far out from your surgery that you can pretty well conclude that it is no longer just a matter of the nerve needing time to recover from the prior compression.
Are you currently working with a pain management doctor or a physiatrist? I suggest you look into taking a mild anti-depressant as well. While it is perfectly normal to feel depressed about your situation, there are some medications that can kill two birds with one stone -- that is, will work for the depression and will have some positive effect on the pain. Being in pain all the time wears one down and makes it more difficult to cope with everything else that is going on in life.
I would suggest you go to a new spine specialist, either a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon whose practice is limited to the neck and back for an evaluation of your current condition. If you live in a larger city, look for someone who specializes in revision surgery...and it will most likely be an orthopedic spine surgeon. (Neurosurgeons tend to not want to deal with some other doctor's handiwork.) If not, try to find someone who is not in practice with your current doctor. I'm not saying your surgeon did anything wrong or doesn't know how to handle your case...but what you want is a new set of eyes evaluating your issues.
It may be that something else is amiss or that you needed fusion on two levels rather than the one...or....there are dozens of things that could be going on...but surgeon # 1 will tend to just look at what has been done and see how it is progressing. You need someone different to give you a fresh opinion.
Now, this may take some time and perseverance to find the right doctor...but I encourage you to try.
I saw many specialists before I found someone who could help me...and several times I was told to accept the way things were and to deal with it...but I knew there was something else going on that was continuing to cause my nerve compression...so I kept looking. I ended up having a revision which added on to my first fusion...so I am now fused from L3 to S1.
But first I would start by looking into treating the depression so you have the energy to deal with the other issues you are facing.
We're here to offer support and to try to share our experiences, answer questions you might have, etc. You aren't alone in what you are going through.