Join Date: May 2002
Location: Nova Scotia Canada
Bikes: 2010 Cervelo RS. Marinoni touring bike. Kona Tanuki MTB. Specialized Hardrock (commuter). Raleigh (early 80s) Super Gran Prix.
Whew man, that's a tough question to answer. Everyone is differant. But let me say this, if you are doing 2 hours on a trainer per day, 6 days per week you are on an excellent start! I can't possibly imagine doing 30 minutes on those things once per week. But if I was in your shoes, I'd make the effort to get back into shape, and force myself onto the trainer.
Many physical therapists recommend cycling as a way to strengthen lower limb injuries and many runners take up cycling when they have injuries. It is not surprising that you have no trouble cycling and feel pain walking. Walking is a weight bearing exercise, cycling is not.
I'd also recommend strength training (weights), stretching and mobility exercises. Your post doesn't make it very clear if you are seeking help from your sister-in-law as a physical therapist. If not, then either seek her help or get yourself a PT to show you what to do and with weekly visits so they can do their magic on you. They helped me with my kneee problem a few years back.
One word of caution though; When I had busted my foot back in 1998 the doctor nearly scared the poop out of me, stating that I may have pain, difficult walking, etc for the rest of my life. Pish posh! Once the cast was off, I had no problem. My point is this - don't let the doctors discourage you, and if the doc says, "well, don' t ride", walk out. This was told to me about my knee problem and it IS NOT AN OPTION. I find doctors just don't seem to get it and that includes cycling or running or tennis or baseball or whatever. They say if it hurts, don't do it. Well, sorry this is my passion, you have the medical degree - HELP ME! Try to avoid doctors and hospitals. Physical therapists are the way to go.
Keep your spirits up, it will be a hard road and don't get discouraged. I'd say in a year you'll see a big improvement, and it may take 5 years before all the little kinks are finally gone. Or it may take 2 years. No one knows.
I know that 2-5 years, or even 1 year seems a long way off, but when it finally comes and passes, you'll think "jeez, that wasn't so long"