The agony of de feet

kermit-surgery-06

As if it weren’t enough that I underwent bunion surgery three years ago, I’m now recuperating from frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) surgery and have been pretty useless the last 10 days or so. Mostly I’m on a pain, physical therapy, sleep cycle. It’s getting better slowly, and I‘m blogging about it over here at Not Another Frozen Shoulder Surgery Blog.

Do head over and check it out.

…unless you’re still hobbling around following bunion surgery. In that case, keeling over is forgiven.

So I decided to do an update because, well, why not? I really don’t have much to add except to say the following:

– My foot is MUCH better. Nerves never grew back completely, but I walk perfectly fine these days and the scarring is minimal. (see photo below).

– I have not done my right foot. It has been behaving itself and I hope it does so forever!

– Thanks to this blog I received a phone call to do an interview about my bunion surgery for a magazine called Sister 2 Sister. The article will be on stands this summer.

– I hope everyone is healing well (if slowly), and that those anticipating surgery are a little less fearful after having read this blog.

But my foot looks amazing, no? You can hardly see the scars!

Best of luck to all and here’s hoping for a world without bunions someday and my blog will be obsolete.

Put your best feet forward!

 

photo-59

Happy FeetDear All,

Here I am as promised heading into 2013 with an update on my left foot.  After almost 18 months since surgery here are the bare (bones) facts about my surgery.

  • No more excruciating pain that existed in my bunion-induced world. Hooray!
  • Extreme heat and extreme cold cause my big toe to swell. Seems this is something I’m going to have to live with. Watch out for very hot showers and cold outdoor temperatures. In fact when it’s really cold my big toe and second toe can get quite numb.
  • Nerve endings did NOT grow back in my big toe and at this stage it’s unlikely they ever will. I’m getting used to the tingling sensation. I do advocate massaging the foot regularly – helps with circulation. I advocate foot massages too by other people!

So, in a nutshell. Surgery successful in that pain is GONE! But the tradeoff is a not perfect foot (well, it never was, right?). Sometimes I do get occasional pain twinges but nothing that’s unbearable. I wonder if others got complete sensation back in their big toe. Probably. I have to live with the fact that my surgery was so invasive that a tingly toe is a small price to pay. Swelling does still happen sometimes and I have to admit if I wear heels for too long I DO get pain in my foot or if the shoes aren’t a little bit loose my toe will swell up and my foot will become painful because it’s too tight for the shoe. Seems even the surgery isn’t going to fix all the problems. But at least I know there are ways to alleviate the pain when things hurt: take off heels; flex toes and foot; keep foot warm etc. as opposed to being in agony with a bunion where there is no way to control the pain.

So that’s that. Hope this helps with everyone else’s recovery. So far, my right foot is behaving and no plans in the immediate future to put it through the trauma of my left foot. But of course, I will keep you posted.

Happy 2013 to you and your feet! Surgery warriors  – hang in there. It DOES get better!

 

Hello all,

Yes it’s been a YEAR! A year since I first went under the knife, threw up for three days straight, had a foot that looked as though it had been mauled by a polar bear, couldn’t walk, couldn’t drive, couldn’t stop complaining, cried at my first physical therapy session, and blogged incessantly. Wow!

So, here’s my post-mortem, one year post op:

I’m going to be completely, brutally, honest. I had hoped that my foot would be in a better place than it is now even after a year. It’s still swollen but not nearly as badly as it used to be. I still get pain in it if I wear “real” shoes for too long (anything that’s not a flat sandal or a running shoe) and I probably only have about 30 percent sensation back in my big toe and surrounding area. I still have those icky tingling sensations round my big toe and it feels WEIRD.Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been vigilant enough with my exercises and I think I need to focus more on that “Walking properly” thing but I’m scared it hurts too much.

So, yes, I’m a LONG way from those early days but still feel I have a way to go. I’m planning on going back for a one year checkup to Dr. Nutig. He didn’t say it was necessary but I feel it is. And I’m thinking I may have to go back into physical therapy. Hopefully Dr. Nutig will tell me exactly where I stand (no pun intended).

Again, I want to make it clear – my foot is 1,000 times better than it was a year ago but I’m still not happy so I’m off to explore more what I can do to help it get 100 percent better. Maybe I’ll find out there is no 100 percent and however uncomfortable/annoying my situation currently is, I have to remember that at least I’m not waking up in the middle of the night with stabbing bunion pain and unable to walk. Thankfully my second foot has been behaving. I still get bunion pain in it but my right foot was always the less painful of the two so I have ZERO plans for surgery on that foot any time soon as long as it continues to behave itself.

I’ll keep you posted on what Dr. Nutig has to say about my left foot refusing to heal properly (that’s my personal opinion not a professional medical opinion btw).

Surgery warriors – hang in there! This too shall pass.

Onwards!

 

My 18-month-old Golden Retriever, Bronte, also LOVES to swim!

I’m back, feeling guilty. It’s now ELEVEN MONTHS post op. Good grief! How did that happen? I have NO idea. And thanks to everyone for their comments and posting how they are doing.

Yesterday was my birthday so I’m on a renewed vigour kick to keep this blog updated. Truthfully, though not much to say except the following cautionary tale:

In the last three to four months I’ve been very lax about keeping up my foot exercises. BIG mistake. As a result my big toe has swollen up a LOT. And, even 11 months post-op I’ve still little sensation in my big toe. It’s still looking and feeling like a big, rubbery marshmallow. Now, if you happen to like marshmallows I guess it’s no big deal. I DO like them, but I don’t want my toe to be labeled one.

In addition, by NOT maintaining my physio exercises I still haven’t conquered walking correctly by placing full weight on the metatarsal. I started trying to do that and in return got shooting pains through my foot as a result. Lesson learned: KEEP UP YOUR PHYSIO EXERCISES, kids! I am paying the price for thinking I was doing so well and didn’t need them.

My foot STILL swells up from time to time – especially when walking for long periods, but I know this is par for the course. More importantly I am now back to swimming and/or water aerobics at least three times a week. I cannot emphasise enough the power of water on your foot after surgery. All that stiffness in my toe and foot and swelling go away for days at a time after just one hour in a swimming pool. So yes, I’m in a water aerobics class with a whole mess of gorgeous grannies – who all think I’m weird doing water aerobics until I tell them about my surgery. You’d be surprised how many old ladies have had bunion surgery and then we swap war stories.

So, if there’s ANY takeaway from this post it’s GET IN THE WATER!!!! The swimming pool is your friend. It helps with the swelling, the pain and overall mobility. I need to invest in some good shampoo because I’m seriously chlorinated these days.

My right foot is urging me to chop off his bunion.. some days the pain is pretty bad. But I’m doing nothing anytime soon. I’m telling that bunion to simmer down. I’m nowhere near ready physically or emotionally to do the other foot so it had better quit complaining now. I promise to be back at the VERY latest by July 10 – my one year anniversary (wow, I can’t believe that it’s almost a year). In the meantime, do keep me posted on your surgeries past, present or future.

P.S. I have NO idea why this blog post is saying I posted on June 15 – when it’s only June 14 here in Los Angeles. What the heck? Must check this out. VERY strange indeed.

Yes, I’ve been FOOTWOL – AWOL with my feet. A combination of the New Year, my “final” doc appointment and comments from fellow surgery survivors sees me back on this page.

Truly, I didn’t mean to abandon you all, it’s just that there’s been so little to report in terms of progress. Naturally progess slows dramatically as the healing period lengthens. This is a good thing (I think). So, for those of you dying to know how things are progressing here’s the latest:

The foot IS still swollen. SORRY SORRY but it’s true. I’ve been prepared for this. I was told well in advance it could take up to a year for the swelling to disappear. One commenter asked do I know why it swells so much? Why yes I do, thanks to my great physical therapist, Cory. Here’s the deal: The tears in your foot from all the trauma of surgery cause fluid to leak into your foot, which causes the swelling. Only when the tears are fully healed will the swelling abate. And if you’ve had the type of surgery I had (or even less invasive) it’s still the equivalent of someone rolling over your foot with a bulldozer. You have lots of breaks and tears in your bones and tendons and it will take time to heal. You don’t get up and walk away from a bulldozer rolling over your foot in five minutes, or five days or five weeks or even five months. You also (according to Cory) can’t do anything  to accelerate that healing -your body will heal in it’s own time. In fact, you can make it worse. If you push to hard you’ll just exacerbate the tears, so follow your doctors orders and listen to your foot! You are the best gauge of your body and its pain threshold. However, my foot isn’t nearly as swollen as it was -it’s definitely getting better and I highly recommend ‘Octopus’ tape.

My foot still tingles. It still feels weird and I still have very little sensation in my big toe. It hurts to try and raise up on my toes or balance on the ball of my foot. All these things Dr. Nutig says will get better with time. I had my final appointment with him (for this foot at least) last Friday. He took another x-ray and said everything has healed perfectly – now it’s just a matter of the time it will take for my foot to be back to normal.

Stairs are difficult still (going down – up is easy). I no longer walk with a cane. I still don’t walk “properly” though. There’s a definite limp as I try to retrain my foot. I cannot run. However, I have been able to walk for much longer periods. I’m now regularly hiking up to two miles at a stretch. Afterwards my foot hurts like hell but I CAN do it.

My disabled placard expires on Jan. 22  – I’ll miss it! It’s been great getting free parking and parking in handicapped spots. Oh well.

I had made a decision to put off doing my right foot until August. My great friend from Australia whom I haven’t seen in over 15 years is coming to Los Angeles for a visit in May and I want to be able to show her around. I’m also going to a conference in July and I want to be mobile for that. So August seemed perfect to do my right foot. Of course, tell that to my foot. Now that I am walking a whole lot more – pretty much back to normal, save for the limping, swelling etc.  the bunion on my right foot is giving me SERIOUS grief. The more I walk the more pain my right foot is now experiencing. I think it’s reminding me that the surgery on my left foot WAS needed. I’m now remembering how much pain I was in prior to surgery. I honestly don’t know how I’ll hold out till August if my right foot remains this bad but I REALLY don’t want to go under the knife just yet. Dr. Nutig is very laid back about the whole thing. “See you when you’re ready” is his mantra.

So, to sum up. Yes, my foot still swells up (but not as much); yes I still limp (but not as much); nobody can really tell I had surgery now – I appear to walk normally; yes my left foot is still very weak – it’s hard to get up off the floor, my balance is still lousy but these things will get better if I get better at sticking to my physical therapy exercises (I stopped therapy about four weeks ago); the tingling sensation is still there; I can barely feel my big toe and I can’t stand on my toes without it really really hurting. The most pain these days (the only pain, really) comes if I overdo the exercise/walking and it’s limited to my metatarsal which makes sense because that’s where the majority of the surgery was done.

Good news is I’m riding my bicycle a lot – the best form of exercise without too much pressure on my foot. I’m thinking of trying swimming again next week.

So, it DOES get better. Be patient. Keep telling me your stories. Feel free to ask questions and I promise to post again in a week and check in on everyone. Good luck with everyone’s surgeries, recoveries etc.

No new picture because honestly it looks exactly the same as the last picture I posted. Scars are really small and my foot looks “normal” if slightly swollen.

Thanks to a kick up the bum (actually, no – it was really a lovely comment on this site by Chris who appears to have had similar surgery to me), I’m back posting again.

Yes, yes, I know it’s been a month. I guess it’s partly my being lazy and partly the fact that progress is slow and it’s hard to come up with new and exciting things to say. So let me start by saying that I’m still regularly wearing “octopus tape” and today it is ocean blue. I quite like this colour!

Blue octopus tape. Quite a good colour, methinks.

Extreme closeup - blue edition.

 

While the tape is pretty fancy the truth is it means two things:

1) Now that the weather is getting colder it’s not like I even get to show off my fancy taped foot. No more sandals – at least for now.

2) The swelling is really the BIGGEST issue with my foot. So to answer Chris’s question: No, not walking properly yet but am LEAPS and BOUNDS ahead in progress than a month ago.

I’m resigned to the fact that my foot will swell, anywhere, anytime. However, it’s not as bad as before. My range of motion in my ankle and most of my toes is almost back to normal. ROM is 15 degrees on my left (surgery) foot and 18 degrees on my right foot. So that’s huge progress. This is due to my great physical therapist and doing a TON of exercises at home – and yes, they hurt… but they’re getting easier.

I don’t seem to get too much pain in my foot these days – sometimes if I’m walking around too much I get some pain but it’s mainly the swelling that bothers me. I still can’t put my foot down fully – it doesn’t lay “flat” and the big issue is really the range of motion in my big toe, which is pretty useless right now but now that I’ve got my ankle back working and am building muscle tone in my leg, calf, hips and thighs, we’re focusing more in therapy on that blasted big toe.

I still have those crazy tingling sensations in my foot and still can’t fully feel my big toe but it’s clear that the nerves are indeed coming back but slowly – as predicted. I’m told I really have to give myself an entire year to get all sensation back (hopefully!).

The other issue is the total lack of balance on my left foot. I’m doing balancing exercises in therapy and at home and standing on my left foot (or attempting to) makes me look like an 80-year-old drunk. I think I can go about 5 seconds now without falling over. And 5 seconds is a LOT for me.

Exercise and ice are my best friends these days, but as you can see from my latest photos, the swelling is not nearly as bad. When I do all my exercises – especially heel raises my foot does turn purple, though!

So, this is where things stand. I’m now on land only therapy (no more pool therapy) and actually have only one more PT session in two weeks time. Will I be cured? Absolutely not! But will I have all the exercises I need for my foot to get better? YES!!!

A direct word to Chris: Don’t despair – my foot still doesn’t lie flat 4 months after surgery. Yes it hurt like hell to walk heel first very soon after surgery and I know I cried  – A LOT – but my orthopedist made me do it. The longer you leave it the harder it gets. Take your drugs and walk on the foot. Even if it’s just to the end of the hall and back. Baby steps! I’m living proof you DO get better – but it is a slow recovery process and I’m pretty sure now I’m not going to do my right foot until next summer if I can hold out that long. I want this foot to be fully recovered.

So, Chris, and everyone else. Hang in there! I rarely walk with the cane these days. I use it to go down stairs – up stairs are easy – my balance is shot going down stairs, though, and I use it if I’m out in public  – mostly to keep people away from me and not have them accidentally step on me.

There IS life after bunion surgery. Promise. But yes, patience is key (followed by drugs and ice!).

I promise to check back in more regularly so you can see how I’m doing.