First, thanks to everyone who responded to my first thread. Everyone was very helpful. I am full of hope and excitement
Today I went to a different LBS. They only sell Trek, but it was a very useful visit. I tried a cruiser first, thinking it would be my best bet. It had a suspension seat and front fork, and the seat was really padded. The tires weren't really fat, but the top bar was! I think it was a Calypso. I rode for 10 minutes, and had to stand 5 times because it HURT so bad
I thought "I guess I'm not ready to ride at all." (By the way, I called my doc and he's on vacation, but the nurse who rides thought this upright position and padded seat would be best. We'll see what he says on Monday, and my physical therapist is supposed to be calling back.)
Before leaving, I tried a hybrid: 7.3 FX. It leans forward more, but seems like it would still be upright enough in traffic. Surprise! this felt much better. I guess leaning forward takes a little weight off my bottom. I was still a little uncomfortable, but I think it's the kind that goes away in a couple of weeks. Also, the seat was tipped just slightly back, which I don't think was a good idea. Also, on this bike, instead of having to stand to take off pressure, I can just tip my pelvis. Problem: when I shifted from 3 on left and 8 on right, to 2 on left, I heard a big clunk. Did I do something wrong? or is this a warning sign?
Then I tried a road bike. OK on flat top part of bar, but I can't use the drops at all (pinches in front), plus the tires were skinny (25). Way too skittish for me
Then I tried Pilot, which seemed like a similar setup to the 7.3 FX Hybrid, but with too skinny tires (28 I think) and weird shifting that I don't like. There were no numbers to tell me where I was, and my small hands couldn't grab the bottom brakes or shifters (same with road bike).
So tomorrow, it's back to the first LBS. I know more now, so maybe I'll get more help. They sell several brands. My plan: 1) ask if every bike I ride is women's or comes in a women's design. 2) NO cruisers or tires skinnier than 30. (But I might try a Townie, just to check my first impression and because of the foot forward design, which might be a totally different feel.)
Then Thursday, I'm looking at a local used bike, and riding for an hour. It's a women's Trek 4500 2003 for $100. I think she said that it was a mountain bike, but she put on skinnier tires and more upright bars.
Then Friday same with a used $250 trek hybrid.
I saw a women's saddle that might help: it's cut out in the middle. Also, bar ends would give me another hand position.