I can empathize...I herniated L4-5 and L5-S1 in 1990 and was disabled for 13 years. While working a part time receptionist's job got me in hot water with Social Security and they said I owed them $20,000.00 overpayment, they stopped my disability payments and I had no choice but to return to nursing. I was scared to death! In 2004, I returned and did pretty well, working FT, 12 hour shifts. Found a job that was 5 days, 8 hours, not as grueling and more assisted living than long term care. I've been an LPN for 34 years.
If you have the option of going on disability, getting short- or long-term disability payments until SSD kicks in, if you file for it, it might be what you need to get back to 100%. With all of the injuries nurses suffer, this really shouldn't do anything to hinder your career, as long as you take steps to get back to being 100%, or as close to it as you can get.
I herniated L4-5 again in 2014 after a discotomy and haven't been able to work since then, due to a chronic illness the surgery triggered. My first disability app was denied, as was my first appeal. My 2nd appeal is coming up. I have had no income in 2 1/2 years.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.