Got only two anecdotes to add... two friends, two similar problems, two very different outcomes.
Both had similar back problems as you. One a professional horserider, one a dancer. Both couldn't perform their job/passion anymore due to the back pain.
One chose to do the fusion and is now well. She's no professional dancer anymore but pain free in everyday life and well enough to be a dancing instructor, still connected to her passion, enjoying to teach kids.
The other was too afraid of the surgery and chose to stand the pain, swallow drugs, etc. Soon, he couldn't mount a horse anymore, lost his job and passion, then tried to be a trainer but due to constant pain he became a heavy drinker, became constantly moody and unbearable as trainer, lost that as well, continuously lost friends. He's a broken lonely man today. I often wonder how his life would have become if he had done the surgery...
"Yeah... no, that's not clumsiness, that's just being topographically challenged" ~ Noreaster