It is 10 weeks today since my surgery, a 3 level acdf with instrumentation, no hard or soft collar used other than a soft collar riding in the car for my own peace of mind. Seriously, other than when there is a significant weather change, I cannot even tell I had surgery. I have great range of motion, can do anything except lift more than 15 pounds (doctor'a restriction) and I try not to read too long with my head bent down (again the doctor's restriction). I was released from PT over a week ago and continue my exercises at home. My energy level is back to normal. I sleep very well on a contoured pillow, on my back or side. It was around week 8 that I really started feeling like myself again. I have not needed a heating pad or ice pack since then, except during a weather change, which I expect may continue my entire life.
I know we don't always hear the good outcomes of these surgeries and I wanted to share my own good experience. My next xray and check up with the surgeon is on the 23rd of this month. I hope my good progress continues!