I am a post TLIF patient and like PALady, I did fuse, but have continued to have pain problems. I'm also over 20 years older than you and have severe DDD and don't produce human growth hormone, so my disc degenerate more than they should. This probably contributed to the problem to start with and would not be a consideration for you.
I have never personally dealt with WC, but I (like the others) want to stress the importance of a good surgeon. After several surgeries for different reasons, I can honestly say that the skill of the surgeon makes a great deal of difference in the recovery time and the success of the procedure.
I'm sorry that you have seen mostly negative responses to the TLIF, but I believe that to be because this is a CP site. Perhaps you could also look into the sites where there were positive results. I honestly believe that many (if not most) have successful results from fusion surgeries and are helped tremendously. The overall nature of this site, however, is skewed toward the negative results. Hopefully we are the exception rather than the rule.
I'm glad you found us and the information (and the people) are absolutely wonderful. We will gladly support you through the process and through the recovery.
Best of luck!
DDD, CPS, TLIF L5-S1 2009 (failed), FIBRO, MINEYER'S (SP?), MIGRAINES, GERD, NISSEN FUNDOPLICATION (failed), GAD, DEPRESSION, EXTREME ANXIETY DISORDER, OCD, PSTD, CHRONIC MUSCLE SPASMS, HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE DEFICIENCY, VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY and much, much more...