Glad you were able to find us Dodgegirl. I've had fusion at L-4/5 but not sure exactly which type like everyone talks of. I'm like PaLady, my fusion was a success in that I did fuse but once I returned to work after being off for 4 months the pain returned.
I too was much older than you, 49 at the time of my surgery and most of my issues now are degenerative disc disease. I have arthritis that has set into my facet joints which I am working with a pain management doctor to controll.
One thing you do need to be aware of though is that after having fusion surgery, the discs above or below the fusion area tend to give you problems later due to the fact that they are now taking the brunt of the workload lost by the fused disc. Within 3 yrs of my fusion I now have a bulging disc above my fusion area at L-2/3. The doc says this is unusual that I skipped a level but it does happen obviously. But I do have DDD so my situation is much different than yours.
You are young and should come through your fusion well but make sure to learn good back ergonomics to avoid problems down the road. A good physical therapist after your fusion, if you decide to go that route, would probably be a good idea to give you some pointers on how to make your job & living routines work with your back, not against it!
Good Luck with your WC challenges and keep us posted with your progress.
DDD, osteoarthritis, facet syndrome, fusion surgeries C-5/7 & L-4/5 both in 2006, torn meniscus surgeries left knee 2000 & 2002, buldging disc L-2/3