Re: Spina Fusion
I think one thing you are overlooking is that the majority of people who have problem-free recoveries are not posting on forums such as this. You are reaching conclusions based on a very limited sampling that you see online.
Just in my own experience, I have had two surgeons with opposing points of view. The surgeon who did my first fusion does not use braces and does not believe in them. He also does not have any set protocol for recovery, but basically instructs patients that they may do any activity that doesn't hurt.
My second surgery was more complex and more levels were fused, and this surgeon had me in a brace. But, I think he puts almost all his patients in a brace, mainly to remind them not to bend or twist.
It is not standard for a patient to use a walker (walking frame) once he/she leaves the hospital unless they need to for safety reasons.
I would say, more than anything, you have been lucky. With my first surgery which was a one level, I was on pain medication for the first eight weeks. I only took pain meds for 10 days with my second fusion, even though it was a much more complicated surgery involving some spinal reconstruction. I believe that it is just a very individual thing as to how someone is going to react to the surgery, how the body will respond to all the anesthesia, etc.
And at the risk of offending you, I also think you are taking an unnecessary risk by going to a step class four weeks after fusion. It is probably less problematic since your fusion is a little higher, but at L4-L5 and L5-S1, the fewer steps one takes, the better. That action of stepping with one leg and then pulling the second leg to meet is very hard on the SI joints and can be irritating to the piriformis...which often becomes irritated after a lower lumbar fusion anyway. Patients here are generally told to limit the number of trips they make upstairs (if they live in a multi-story house) and even months post surgery are advised to avoid step ladders.
But I am happy if it is working for you. Four weeks is still very early in recovery. I just hope you are not setting yourself up for problems in the coming weeks.