The agony of de feet

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.


Comments on: "Six months post op: walking, not running (or leaping tall buildings)" (23)

  1. I have truly enjoyed reading all of your posts. I just had surgery 4 days ago & I am already anxious for the pain to subside. I don’t think my surgery was as extreme as yours, so I really shouldn’t complain. I think the worst for me so far (besides being totally dependent on others for meals, laundry, & pretty much everything else) is the intense burning pain I get every time I lower my foot. Some times it hurts so much I just want to cry. I have my first post-op appointment in 4 days. I don’t remember anyone telling me I could use ice, but then I don’t really remember much that was said to me after surgery.
    I look forward to a day without narcotics! Thank you so much for doing this blog. It has both opened my eyes and eased my mind. I hope you continue to heal accordingly and that your other foot goes even smoother!

    • I hope you’re now doing a lot better 5 months post op, Kathy! Ice is your friend… I still use it even today.

  2. thanks for posting, I really do find all you say interesting to me, I am now at 2 1/2 months post op. You may rememeber I had the same type of surgery you had. It is most discouraging, I have very bad swelling and bad pain when i walk for too long. I still walk on the side of my foot no matter how hard I try to walk the right way it automatically goes to the side, frustrating. My toes all look short and fat. Oh well another three months I guess. I was hopiing to be golfing soon… I am down in Texas , we are winter Texans, I’m 58 yrs old so that most likely also has some bearing on the slow recovery. I am now starting to hear horror stories from those who had the surgery ( and told me all would be ok) things like pain and athritis, things are just not quite right. You have me in a mood where I tryly wish I had never had it done. Thanks and please keep posting for I want to hear the day it is all behind you. I call it my BFF.. Big Fat Foot.

  3. I am 5 weeks out from my bunion surgery. So happy I found this blog. It is really helpful for me because I tend to think I’m not getting back as quickly as I should be. But after reading this, I realize I am coming along. This surgery has been really difficult. They don’t prepare you ahead of time for how slow and long it takes to heal. I still have my right foot to do, but will not be doing it anytime soon. I am 54 years old and very healthy, thought the surgery would be easier – so wrong! All of the things on the blog are happening to me. I can’t believe I will ever be able to walk on it again. Today, the doctor told me that I need to walk heel to toe in my boot, I told him I can only walk on the outside of my foot. No matter how how I try, I am not able to walk heel to toe yet. I can’t put my foot flat either. I don’t know why, other than swelling. I am fine if I keep my foot elevated all day, but have difficulty when it’s down. Standing is terrible, walking is better. I am so ready to be “normal” again! I am pretty much off pain meds with the exception of occasional 1/2 tab at night after having an active day. (My foot feels like it’s crawling and so painful like someone beat it with a hammer on those nights!) I find if I keep it wrapped in an ace wrap in the boot it helps with the swelling and tingling feelings. Thanks for the blog! Pat

    • Hi Pat. How are you now – 4 months post op? For what it’s worth, your experiences seem “normal” to me. That heel toe thing is killer initially. Ugh. It gets easier.

  4. My girlfriend is doing all she can to prevent her bunion from worsening. I hope your recovery is going well. I hope my girl friend doesn’t have to have surgery on her bunion any time soon.

    • How is she doing – it’s now four months since you posted this? Remember, find a surgeon who will ONLY operate if it’s really necessary. As long as she’s not in pain and can walk, stay away from the surgeon’s knife. Bunion surgery should be last resort – I say this as a patient… not a doctor. Just my personal opinion.

  5. It is time for an update… just another bunion blog.. now four months for me. Still swelling especially after a day on my feet. Still hurst like heck if i am on it too long. My leg (knees hurts too) went dancing last week and i defintely over did it. Ouch. Played a game of golf not too bad but I am in a cart. I could not walk. I also ride my bike, walking is just not in the cards. Your are right stairs are the worse, down especially. Sometimes my foot has shooting pains where the bunion was and my other toes hurt. Oh well time and more time seem to be the only thing one can count on. I hope. I do not think I will ever get the other foot done. Please post month 7…. need to know if and when you will ever be normal again. chris

  6. Hello! Great blog! Fellow bunion surgery survivor!! I’ll be linking your site from mine!

  7. following this blog, had surgery begining feb 2012 and now know what to expect as each week passes. great blog

  8. Hi!I´d like to share my experience with bunions in my blog

  9. Really enjoyed reading about your progress! I am at 3 weeks post Bilateral Chevron Bunionectomy… no plates/screws – but HOLY COW I was sadly naive about not being able to get back to normal quickly. I was told pre surgery by my surgeon what to expect, but I thought that I would be ‘that’ star patient who would fool them all!

    The swelling is very bothersome. So is the tingling. I am also going absolutely stir crazy at home. Today was definitely a low day. But – I have improved so very much in 3 weeks.

    Every patient, surgery, surgeon, and recovery is different – but I was encouraged to read your blog and relate to so much of your story… Thanks!!!

  10. Hi Jodine. Yes, as I think I mentioned they do tell you what to expect but somehow your brain can’t fathom it. Hang in there. It gets better. Keep me posted. How is 4 weeks post op treating you?

  11. Love this blog. Thanks for the info, really helps to know what is to come. 2.5 weeks in and I feel I am doing well. The pain to me is ok with aleve. But I did not realize the length of time it would take. I will try to be patient. LOL!

  12. 6 days post bilateral skarf akin proceedure and it hurts, lying around with my feet elevated, taking anti inflammatories and panadol (and apperients !!). In the wee small hours taking endone for the burning pain. Heel walking with surgical shoes on and using crutches. Elevation makes all the difference and when i get to feel the ice through the bandages it feels good. Bandages off and stitches out in 9 days. My imagination is working over time hence i have found this blog. I have booked in to see a physio after the sutures are out and mean time have no particular instruction to follow except above. Great blog

  13. Obviously life after bunions – nice not to get a reply, great

    • Hey Tessa. I’m sorry it takes me so long to reply. But I always get around to doing so. Sometimes “life” takes over – and in my case it was the suicide of my best friend and neighbour – Randall – who is mentioned in this blog. I found his body. It has been a VERY rough time for me. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Don’t judge. You have no idea what is going on in people’s lives and why they don’t respond immediately. Do know I will come back to this blog when time permits.

  14. Heidi Stringham said:

    I just discovered your blog. I am so glad to know that I am not the only one who is still having difficulty post surgery. I am now 5 1/2 months out from surgery and my big toe and the one next to it are still completely numb. I hope that you are doing better in your recovery.

  15. Kelly, I am so sorry to hear of your sad loss, so very kind of you to post regardless. Just know its a great blog. I was having a moment and a brief one today however time heals. I bet Randall loved your blog too.
    Many thanks T

  16. Hi Kelly,
    I hope you go well. Just to let you know 9 weeks post op – at last with the go ahead to weight bear. My spirits are lifted and i am optomistic as i begin to potter about, it feels like its been a long road. My post op instructions were mixed and conflicting (verbally different from written) which has been difficult to reconcile. The surgeon does not recommend physio, he tells me to flex my toe regularly and walk now. So i am ! and will continue the pool stuff for a few weeks with really positive healing thoughts. I can’t wait to walk our dog and nor can the dog thats for sure.
    Thank you for your kind support. T

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