Today I went to a podiatrist to look into getting my feet cut off. Well, just pieces of them. They’re called bunions. And they suck.
I’ve had bunions since my early teens and they have become increasingly painful and ugly now that I’m 25. I’ve always had trouble finding comfortable shoes that my wide feet will fit into. And forget about finding cute shoes that won’t accentuate or make my bunions look and feel worse.
Now that I have an adult job with good insurance (yay adulthood!) I decided to finally take steps to get surgery for my bunions. A hairdresser at a local salon in Long Island had her bunions “done” by this guy last year and had nothing but good things to say about her experience. She said he did the procedure right in the office and it is minimally invasive, so she was able to walk out of the office the same day. There were no long incisions (and, therefore, no crazy scars), and no surgical boots for the following six months as her cuts and bones healed like traditional bunion surgery.
So of course I got the name of her podiatrist and called to make a consultation appointment! Although she recommended one name, it is actually a team of two doctors – one is more of the surgeon while the other takes care of pre- and post-op stuff. Dr. Kirell and Dr. Weisenthal work at Footech Podiatry in Plainview, New York (Long Island) and I am really happy that I went with them!
The fact that they were willing to see me the day after Thanksgiving was amazing. They only planned on seeing people for follow-ups but they made the exception for me since I teach in Brooklyn and they are usually closed on days that I have off for holidays.
The office space is small with only the waiting room and two other rooms – one is the room where consultations and follow-ups happen and the other is where the magic happens (surgery). My mother-in-law drove me and came in the office with me, and right off the bat we were greeted by Dr. Kirell and Dr. Weisenthal. They were playing receptionist today because they were the only two in the office – they let all the other employees stay home!
I filled out the paperwork and was led right into the consultation room with Dr. Weisenthal who told me to take my shoes and socks off. My nightmare. I’ve worn sandals in the past but never without embarrassment over my ugly, deformed feet. In the summer, I’m rarely without socks and have gotten into the habit of just wearing sneakers not only to conceal my hideous feet but also because they are more comfortable for me. But then again, messed up feet are their job and these guys have seen much worse, so whatever.
He immediately said that bunions are usually hereditary, but are also caused by friction and rubbing of the shoes on the toes. He started pushing and pulling gently on my feet, working my toes, and just seeing the movement and feeling the bones.
Verdict: I have major bunions on both of my big toes, I also have small bunions on the outsides of both feet because of the larger bunions, and my baby toes have become hammertoes. All of this because of the shifting and rubbing from years and years of the bunions becoming worse. It’s like the domino effect – once one thing falls or shifts, it causes other things to shift, etc. and so on.
He explained the entire procedure for both feet, informing me that there would be a total of 5 tiny (5 mm each) holes where they would stick their tools in to fix my feet. Two would be near my big toe – one is to fracture my big toe to shift it over, then the other would be on the bunion itself so that they could essentially liquify the excess bone. He explained that the tool is meant to make the bone into a toothpaste consistency and then they squeeze the liquid out of the foot through the hole. Yummy. Now go brush your teeth with that visual.
The third hole will be at the base of my middle toe so they can create small cuts in the tendon to release the tension that causes the toes to be pulled back all the time. The last two holes will be for my small toe – the one for the small bunion and the other to shave down the bone for the hammertoe.
Whew. My feet are even more screwed up than I thought! But I’m so excited that I’m taking care of it now because the pain and ugliness are just very frustrating, and it will only get worse as time goes on.
I have to call the office next week to try to make an appointment for the surgery over the summer. Dr. Weisenthal said that they recommend summer for teachers because then we’re not on our feet for hours every day. Although we’re able to walk and be on our feet starting the day of surgery, it just isn’t comfortable because of the amount of swelling. “The healing process for this procedure is all about the swelling – your feet will be swollen for the first two months, but it will get much better after those 2 months.” So I’ll have to have really loose and open shoes for the first 2 months (all summer), but he said I can go swimming with my bandages. How convenient?!
Oh, he also complimented my small toes and called them cute. He said that most times, he has patients with bunions who waited until they were older, so their smaller toes end up as hammertoes and become deformed as well. He said that I will end up with really cute feet after the surgery. Less/no pain AND cute feet?! Sweet!
I just can’t wait until the surgery because I have dealt with these things for over 13 years, so it’ll be amazing to finally be rid of them! Dr. Weisenthal told me they’re booked solid until October, but they usually save room for teachers over the summer; how thoughtful?! I’ll definitely update when I get the appointment, start preparing, and actually go through with the surgery. And of course I’ll include pictures!