Welcome to Spine-Health.
A new member, PhilC45, made a post in the New Member section titled "My Post ACDF Experience" and I liked it because I've pretty much discovered the same thing as he has. I'm making a new post because with his thread title, I'm not sure it will reach as many members as I think it should, so I'm going to start a new post. But I encourage you to read his post in addition to this one.http://www.spine-health.com/forum/new-member-introductions/my-post-acdf-experience
I had a 3-lvl ACDF in 2008 (severe issues from cord compression - clumbsiness, pain, and chance of paralysis if something happened) and a 1-lvl TLIF in 2010, which took quite a while to recover from, I'd say a year total.
I was off work for two years and although I got out most days, I could be fairly sedentary. I walked my dog every day, cooked dinner and did laundry sometimes, some housecleaning, but I really didn't feel "up to it".
Then, one year and a month after my TLIF, I finally found a job - but guess what, it's a very active job that requires lifting, being on my feet, reaching, walking and pushing carts, standing, squatting, bending and sitting. A large variety of activities daily.
I thought it was going to kill me before I started and was worried, then I was more worried when I did start and the pain was intense the first few months. Now, six months later, I feel stronger and better than I have in a long time.
Don't get me wrong, my issues are not over as I still get pain and headaches from my upper neck issues and I occasionally have mechanical pain from the movement above and below my lumbar fusion, but my surgeon works with me on that. However, with that said, I believe that if I didn't "work out" at work every day (and still walk my dog, too), I'd feel a lot worse than I do now.
There's a lot to be said about activity and pushing yourself, even though you're scared. I'm not saying that's possible for those that have cord issues, are waiting for surgery, or have certain issues, but if you've had surgery, are through the major part of your recovery and your surgeon says you're good to go, aggressive activity can really be helpful to many people, myself included. I think that many of us are too scared to try - for myself because I sat and thought about it too much, worried about re-injuring myself, and I think it was sucking the life out of me. My new job has forced me to try things I otherwise wouldn't have and guess what? I can do them and they actually make me feel better. I'm amazed.
I never would have guessed that what I thought would take me down made me stronger than I've felt in years.
Please don't take offense if you truly cannot "work out". This post is not meant for you. It's meant for those like me: I know I'm fused, am in full recovery from both surgeries and not facing another yet, but was too scared to get out and try things I thought I couldn't. It has put a whole new perspective on things, really life in general.