Social Security pays a lot less in disability payments, than this young fellow earns as a mechanic anyhow. Take it from an RN who ended up on disability, you must resign yourself to less money. When you no longer have a choice, it is easier.
Best of luck to you and your friend. I have had to have a similar talk with a friend of mine, not about health issues though. We have a similar discussion every few months, always via email, thank goodness.
Were you using marijuana as well as taking opiates? Some docs won't prescribe opiates to folks who use medical marijuana, in my state it costs $400 to get pot legally, that is for a year and includes a medical marijuana card for the state. It is still illegal per federal law.
Maybe, you were not a candidate for surgery at all? No one wants to hear there is no good choice for treatment for them, but that is the truth for some people. There may be in the future, but perhaps not at this time.
You sound great. Having more pain sucks though, some docs like to try different long acting pain meds, kind of rotate through the choices you have. Increasing the dose of the long acting med might help also. I personally use methadone, it is cheap and works well for me. Depending on what causes your pain, makes a difference in the best drug for you to try.
Sorry, that last sentence was awkward at best. What I meant to say was that the cause of your pain does make a difference in your drug choices. Methadone works best for neuropathic pain, it may not be best for you.