Hi David, I too want to welcome you to HW. I hate to see you here but you have come to the right place. The people on this forum can really give some great tips on many things and CP is one of them. We also try to lend an ear if a person feels like they need to vent and you will get a ton of support.
I had surgery offered to me back in the mid 90's by a neurosurgeon. When I told him I was not planning on having surgery at that time, he walked out of the room very rudely in my opinion and sent his nurse in to finish the exam!!! Of course, I already knew if I were going to have surgery, I already had my neurosurgeon picked out. I saw hundreds of his surgeries, he worked with an orthopod on lumbar fusions, I told them they were a tag team. Both of these guys are excellent surgeons. Yes, you are right about the difference of the two drs. Since nerves are always involved in any spinal surgery, I would only agree to a neurosurgeon working on me. I have seen the difference of a orthopod doing a cervical fusion versus a neurosurgeon and in my opinion its not worth it, same with a back. The difference in recovery time was something else and the person truly did not do well. Always get board certified specialist.
From ready what you wrote about your MRI you sure do have alot of narrowing going which is stenosis. I have seen in many instances a person to actually have a herniation behind the narrowing and it was not picked up on the MRI or CT. Then you have your disc problems on top of that. I can certainly see why you are in pain. It looks like you are losing some of the fluid in your disc which is called disc dessication. Do you have any pain in your buttocks or pain in the back of your legs? Pinched or compressed nerves can cause this sort of problem. The stenosis is probably what affected your ability to walk and probably even now you are limited, as it is know for causing this problem too. I read an article recently that alot of people with lumbar stnosis actually feel better sitting as it causes the canal to open somewhat further.
You seem to have your head on right about the surgery, and believe it or not thats half the battle. I have seen people go in for surgery and all they would say is I am never going to be the same again, or I am going to hurt forever or feel like they were half the person since they had surgery. These people never did good after surgery. A positive outlook can go a long ways. I am assuming your recent MRI showed more progression since the previous MRI.
I think I would ask my dr about any kind of exercises to do prior to surgery. You sure don't want to be doing something you shouldn't.I too have heard 6 weeks to recuperate, but in all reality not everyone is alike. Alot depends on how fast you heal, lets face it, any surgery takes a little something out of a person. Whatever you do, don't try to speed up your recovery, it will hurt you in the long run. Just take each day as it comes. Overdoing is a big problem for many and that just knocks you back. Rest and be kind to your bosy and let it heal properly. Walking is the best form of exercises you can do after surgery. It will help get your strength back and help build you up. They will have you up walking fairly soon after surgery and that will also help wake up your bowels and get them working again.
Keep us posted on how you are doing I hope you have low pain day. Susie