Foot Surgery: 6 weeks Post-op + Before & After comparison

It’s been a tough 6 weeks (tomorrow), but I’m happy to report that I’ve made so much progress since surgery!

After 2 weeks of basically rotating between laying in bed, sitting on the couch, and only getting up to use the bathroom, it was time to start moving more. It was painful and slow-going, but I used a cane during week 3 while Tom and I were in Montauk and then when I made The Great Return to Brooklyn. Brooklyn is great because everything is within walking distance. Until, that is, walking is such a chore. Mind you, we are less than a block away from Walgreens, and 2 blocks from our grocery store and laundromat. However, what would normally take a couple minutes to walk to the grocery store now took 10 minutes with the assistance of my old-lady-cart. That may not seem like a lot, but I would be totally exhausted and usually in pain by the time I got to the store, still needing to actually shop and then make the trek home.

I also started back-to-school-teacher-meetings and coaching volleyball that week. I didn’t need to use my cane around the school, but when going longer distances (home to subway, subway to school, and vice versa) and carrying a backpack, I definitely needed it to make sure I didn’t lose my balance. And I felt more comfortable knowing I could potentially use it as a weapon if someone decided to test the hobbling young lady.

Volleyball was hard at first and I’m still pretty limited, but I am walking faster and am able to help with everything more. No jumping or sliding for me, but it’s an improvement. Luckily I have a co-coach who can do the things I can’t, and our girls are very independent, allowing me to take a seat in the rolling chair and put my feet up.

I stopped using my cane during week 4 which was fantastic – I felt more confident and was even being told by Tom and co-workers that my walking was getting better, even just since the week before. I even started wearing my sneakers with the huge slits in them that week; they felt way more comfortable and supportive compared to the old lady sandals, so my feet weren’t crying by the time I got home in the evenings. They’re still a bit swollen by the end of the day, but nothing like they were in the first month.

I went to my doctor last week and he said he was very happy with my progress. I only mentioned that my big toes still felt a little floppy…to which he then proceeded to flick (but not super hard) my big toes, to which I had a minor freak out, and to which he commented that they were actually very sturdy. Okay, gross(!!!), but thanks. I am happy to report that, a week later, they don’t feel floppy anymore when I change my bandages!

bandages

Speaking of, he gave me different bandages that are less constricting! The original ones (lighter two bandages and the white zinc oxide bandage in bag) that created the soft cast were meant to allow my incisions to heal. Since my incisions are pretty much healed, he said I could start using these new bandages. I put them on on Tuesday evening and they feel so comfortable while still providing a little bit of stability and support. I will say, though, that the new ones smell [weirdly] like hot dogs.

I’ll make the following picture small so that if you don’t want to see the incisions you can just keep reading. If you want to see how they’ve healed, click the image to enlarge it.

feet incisions

I’ve been walking more with school starting and have noticed a huge difference in the way that I’m walking. As the weeks have progressed, I am better able to *kind of* roll my feet to my toes as I take steps instead of just planting my feet straight down and then picking them straight up. I’ve regained a ton of feeling in my big toes which is great; I hate the feeling of numbness with pins-and-needles when you touch the skin.

I can’t wait until I can actually do physical activity like running and jumping. You don’t realize just how much you put weight on your toes until you can’t; so much of life activities require this! I used the stability bike at school last week and did a couple miles on it – I’m so out of shape since my surgery, it’s not even funny. Like, seriously, it’s disheartening and frustrating. But at least I have a good reason, I guess.

So let’s get a comparison of my feet pre-surgery and 6 weeks post-op!

feet compare

Woot! My doctor also said that he doesn’t need to see me in the near future. I’m not 100% sure how long that means I should wait to make another appointment, but he gave me enough bandages to hold me over until I won’t need them anymore. Maybe in a month or two I’ll check in!

Overall, I’m really happy so far – I still have a ways to go until I’m healed completely, but I’m glad I did this when I did instead of putting it off and letting it get worse.

One week post-foot surgery!

I’ve made it over the week mark and only had one emotional meltdown! I broke down the other night because of my restlessness from being immobile. Plus, I’m alone all day (with the exception of Finster) while everyone is at work and Tom’s been back in Brooklyn and traveling out of town, so it’s been difficult being away from him so much. Our one year anniversary is this Sunday, though, so I think we’ll get to spend some time together this weekend! And then next weekend we’re going to Montauk for some real anniversary time together. I’m really hoping I’m able to enjoy the beach and endure some walking to the center of town by then!

So yeah all of the emotions spilled out after I kind of banged my left big toe on the step going upstairs. Fearing that I may have screwed up my toe or something, I got freaked and the floodgates opened. It didn’t hurt a lot or make any unnatural noises, so I figured it was okay since the bandages keep my toes secure, but still. Everything had just kind of built up and then it all came out.

I called my mom to talk to her, and I felt a lot better; I know she understands more than anyone how I’m feeling. Being cooped up, spending most of your time alone, and being unable to do the things you want to is very frustrating. She ended up telling me a story about my great-aunt (by marriage), Tilly, who had bunions and was an, um, unpleasant person. Turns out that this was a unanimous opinion among my mom, her siblings, and her mother! And none of them had ever discussed that until they were all grown! Isn’t that funny?

I started working on this cat latch-hook tapestry thing on Wednesday and I plan on finishing it today. My mother-in-law bought it along with a paint-by-numbers for me to do while I’m recovering. It’s funny because it looks like Finster, so maybe I’ll hang it in his room when it’s finished. It’ll be like he’s looking in a mirror or something. I don’t want to do the PBN on the couch, so I figured the tapestry would be easy to do. And it is! It’s a pretty mindless task, but it does keep my mind busy and I do have to pay attention to the colors.

cat tapestry

I want to start the paint-by-numbers but I can’t sit up at a table for long before my feet start to swell and become super uncomfortable. I did a PBN a few years ago and it took so long (I think, like 6 months from start to finish) and it turned out so awesome! It’s hanging in our apartment because I’m so proud of it and it’s a nice picture.

original paint by number

I took a real shower yesterday and was surprised when I wasn’t in a ton of pain or completely exhausted afterwards. My feet/bandages got soaked because the shower caps were absolutely useless, so I just took them off and went commando. My mother-in-law helped change my bandages which was good because I did start to get a little woozy when she started on my right foot. We had a cold paper towel on standby which I used as a cooling agent and a blindfold.

When we got the bandages off of my right foot (she was much gentler than the doctor, which was good) I looked at my foot and felt fine; it wasn’t bloody or super bruised or anything. Anytime I move without bandages, however, I can sort of feel that my big toe is not 100% intact. It’s the way it feels jiggly that makes me feel like passing out. I think my mind makes up the image of my big toe flopping sideways or something. Once we got the right foot rebandaged, the left foot was a breeze. I felt fine with the left foot, even the big toe. It’s just that right big toe that gets to me. Weird.

I’ve been sitting outside the past couple days, trying to enjoy the beautiful summer weather as much as possible. Finster likes to join me outside, so it’s nice to have some company. Within an hour, though, I need to go inside and lay down because my feet swell. I put my feet up while sitting outside but it’s just not high enough.

sitting outside with Fin

This morning, I woke up and was pleasantly surprised to see spaces between my toes! They weren’t swollen and my feet felt great! But as soon as I stood up and started doing something, they instantly started to swell and hurt. I’ve got a lot more bruising on around the main part of my feet and have unfortunately run out of Arnica, so I’m keeping ice close by.

Walking continues to get easier, but there are times throughout the day where it gets hard again. It’s all because of the swelling, honestly. Once my feet start to swell, they hurt. When my feet hurt, walking hurts. When walking hurts, I suck at it. I’ve noticed that I’m able to put my feet flatter on the floor than I could a week ago. All progress is good progress!

Post-foot surgery days 3-5: just a lot of healing

Great news: the doctor said I’m healing beautifully! Woot! More on that later…

Sleeping has been a lot better the past few nights and I’ve been feeling some more itchiness under the bandages, indicating that my incisions are healing! I’ve been taking half-pills of Vicodin every 4-6 hours to take the edge off since I’m done with Prednisone and the swelling is usually what is making me hurt the most. Oh, my doctor called a couple days ago about the missing antibiotics and said I would be okay with the amount I was given.

I have obviously been doing a whole lot of sitting and laying around with my feet up, and therefore have watched my fair share of television. On Saturday, I watched a Love It or List It marathon on HGTV for hours; I swear, I can probably flip a whole house myself with all of these shows I watch! That night, my mother-in-law and I watched the Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. I definitely recommend it because it was so good! It wasn’t a stuffy, slow moving intellectual film either! It had humor and moved a really good pace, just fast enough to keep you on your toes but not so fast that you felt dumb watching it.

Sunday morning, I watched CNN news with the family because I’m trying to be more knowledgeable and aware of current affairs and politics. What I know (and have known for years) is that Trump is a big jerk and should not be President because he argues like a child, throwing names and rude remarks before intellectual responses. Go figure.

My mother- and sister-in-law were going to Modell’s, so I threw on my super cute sandals and they helped me to the car. I got pushed around in a wheelchair as transport which made me feel helpless and like a spectacle, but who cares? It felt great to get out, but by the time we got back home my feet felt like they had blown up and it was really uncomfortable. I sat in the backseat with my feet up across the seats, but it just wasn’t high enough to ease the swelling. I watched Pitch Perfect for the first time , too – it was good, except for the 1,420,852 commercials. Thanks, ABCFamily.

free at last

Tom came back out to Long Island that night so that he could take me to two doctor’s appointments today; I don’t think I would trust myself to drive still. One of them was a post-op for my feet to redress the bandages and make sure everything was going okay. I had to hang on to Tom for some balance walking across the parking lot; you don’t realize how slow you’re going until you are in a parking lot and it feels like it takes forever to get to your destination. It wasn’t even that far of a walk, but in my current state it felt like a mile.

The receptionist was surprised at how well I was walking into the office, telling me it was a great sign! Dr. Weisenthal took care of me during this visit. When he finally took off the bandages, it was gross but felt really good but also uncomfortable. It felt nice airing my feet out, and I could see that they were visibly straighter and narrower, but this refreshing feeling was quickly gone as he got to cleaning them up. This part hurt. Not the spray part because that was nice and cool. The rubbing and scrubbing and scraping part was what got to me.

I didn’t expect him to be super gentle as it’s easier to just do it and get it over with; it’s like ripping off a band-aid. And obviously I’ve been babying my feet, avoiding any slightly rough touch. And by rough, I mean barely-there. I figure it’s better that the doctor does it because he knows what to do if anything goes wrong slash he knows what not to do so that nothing will go wrong.

The big toe on my right foot felt like Jello, and every movement made it wiggle unnaturally. He said that’s normal as my toe was broken during surgery, but that didn’t help the weird feeling. I almost passed out though from the pain, the jiggly big toe, and the sight of my bruised feet, so he had to lower the back of the chair and give me a cool paper towel for my forehead. I was fine shortly after that, thank goodness.

Once the tootsies were cleaned up, he said they looked great. Minimal bruising has occurred around my toes, and my ankles aren’t swollen, so he dressed my feet without wrapping the bandages up and around my ankles. He walked me through the dressing process so that I can do it myself if I want/need to between now and my next appointment (next Monday).

redressed feet

I did mention to him that the middle toes on my right foot are a lot more raised than they should be; that’s why the tendons were cut because they were being pulled pretty high back. He said it was normal since I’ve been walking more on the outsides of my feet to overcompensate for any pain and that they’ll fix it as we go. Probably through stretching or something once they are a bit more healed. He gave me two little foam pads that attach to my middle toes with a little hole in the middle so that they are supported and I can walk a little flatter when I wear shoes.

My feet feel much lighter and actually much better since he redressed them with fewer bandages. They still swell up when I don’t keep them elevated, so walking and standing really hurts after awhile. Last night, I even ate dinner at the table like a normal human being! Although I bet more human beings eat on the couch nowadays, but I digress. My feet were screaming at me by the time I hobbled back to the living room couch, but it was worth having a more social dinner. I’m glad that I’m getting better and that I’m progressively doing more and more normal stuff, but it’s still nowhere near where I want to be. Obviously.

What I’ve realized with this surgery versus others I have had is that going under local versus general anesthesia was nice because I didn’t spend the next few days constantly feeling drowsy. However, since my feet are what I had done, even though my brain and every other part of my body is up and ready to party, my feet are the dictators of if and when and how I do things. It’s a real buzzkill. But I can’t complain because I chose to do this and it will be worth it in the end!

Also, I have to give a huge shout-out to my in-laws who have been nothing but hospitable to me through this surgery (and practically all summer!), letting me recover on their couch. I could not imagine trying to recover back in Brooklyn, having nowhere to go within hobbling distance!

Post-foot surgery day 2: swelling, pain, and blood?!

Sleeping was hard. I’m a very active person in my sleep; I get really restless, and thus I am a notorious tosser and turner during the night. So being restricted to sleeping on my back with my feet elevated on pillows got super uncomfortable within the first 5 minutes. Needless to say, I woke up multiple times during the night to adjust myself, which really only entailed scooting an inch to the left or right, maybe bending my legs to get some stretching action and circulation going.

I had the air conditioner on for my feet, figuring it would act kind of like applying an ice pack to help with the swelling. I took a Tylenol before bed last night because of all the walking I did to get upstairs and ready for bed.

I have to walk up the stairs sideways to keep my feet flat, making it difficult to stay balanced, especially while carrying stuff. Tom helped bring any extra stuff upstairs for me, like pillows from the couch to keep my feet elevated, my purse, and meds. He has been so awesome to me this summer with surgeries and such, so I’m giving him a huge shoutout for being an amazing husband and caregiver. I love you, Tom!!!!!!!

I’ve been walking mostly on my heels because it’s uncomfortable trying to place any of the front part of my feet on the ground. I’ve also had some itchiness under the bandages near an incision, so I look like a woman patting her weave when she has an itch.

The office gave me a little bag of some necessities yesterday that I didn’t mention in my post for day 1. It contained a pair of black no-show socks to sleep in, shower caps, and a pair of surgical scissors. The doctors said that bleeding is totally normal since I don’t have any stitches, so when I’m sleeping I can wear the socks to keep any possible blood from ruining the blankets. I have 5 tiny incisions on each foot that will clot and close-up on their own, but obviously they can still open a bit and bleed.

Here’s a picture of my socks as I watched Leah Remini’s show on TLC On Demand this morning. I am so in love with this show it’s ridiculous. It actually makes me laugh out loud because the entire family is so genuinely funny together and separate! I’m sure some things are scripted, but their humor it definitely real.

socks and Leah Remini

I feel like I’m one of those people (usually girls, but guys do it too) who takes pictures of their feet to publicize and rub in the fact that they are lounging at some exotic beach. I’m not in an exotic place and my lower extremities are not meant for a calendar (yet!), but this is my viewpoint for awhile now. My feet feel so great when they’re elevated on 3 or 4 pillows; it’s such a relief after walking even the shortest distances to throw my feet up because it eases the pressure so much.

The shower caps are for my feet when I shower or bathe (duh). I am allowed to get the bandages and wraps wet as I am not in a hard cast, so they are made to get wet. If they do get wet, I can either dry them using paper towels (instead of just letting them air dry), and if they’re really soaked, I can use a hair dryer to dry them quicker.

I took a shallow bath this afternoon to freshen up and it was quite the awkward experience. I had my shower caps on my feet, but they didn’t fit perfectly since they are meant for a round head, not for an oblong foot. I kept my feet on the sides of the tub to elevate them (like stirrups at the female doctor…), so that was super awkward and uncomfortable. I also tried to keep them as dry as possible, but water still got into the caps when I stepped into the tub. Once I was finished, there was quite a bit of bleeding from my right foot at the same spot as the pictured below, so I used a paper towel to soak up excess and applied some pressure to help it clot. Once it was cleaned up a bit, I wrapped a clean PT around the area and put my socks on to keep said PT intact.

I feel soooooo much better now that I’m clean and smell better, but that took a whole lot of energy, concentration, and planning. To do the least amount of walking, I had to make sure that I knew the game plan and had everything I needed with me to save myself from needing to walk from room to room unnecessarily. I’m moving at a snail’s pace, hobbling around on my heels; my ankle and shin muscles should be jacked after this.

You can see some blood on the right foot (picture taken pre-bath) near the base of my toes in this picture. I didn’t think it was too bad to include, so I hope it doesn’t make anyone sick. You can also see how fat my toes are. Lovely.

swelling day 2

The surgical bandage scissors are to cut my bandages (no-brainer, huh?) if necessary. Dr. Kirell told me that if the bandages get unbearably tight, I can cut along a line he drew on them to relieve the pressure. My feet are really swollen and fat today, but the bandages don’t feel too tight yet.

He also said that I will have quite a bit of bruising around my ankles; I asked why my ankles instead of where the incisions are and he said, “Gravity. When you elevate your feet, all of the blood will drain down near your heels and ankles.” Makes sense. Tom ran to Vitamin Shoppe last night to grab me some Arnica tablets to help keep the bruising down and speed that whole process along. Again, love him!

The doctors also informed me that I can apply for a handicap permit for a 6 month period! Not that we drive all that much unless we’re in Long Island, but it’s a nice perk that we can use whenever we do drive.

I forgot to get a picture of the before and after x-rays yesterday so I’ll have to get them when I go back on Monday for a re-dressing of my bandages!

Oh, I also forgot to show off my sexy sandals I received yesterday. How cute are they with the nylon stockings?! I had my mom cracking up as I described it to her as “huge bandages covered with nylon stockings and slipped into old lady sandals with ties up the front.” She told me that I should have Tom get some old man sandals and wear checkered shorts and tube socks. We’d be a match made in heaven as I hobbled around and he just looked goofy. Also, that paper is a packet of FAQs about the procedure I had; it’s called Minimally Invasive Percutaneous Foot Surgery. So if you have any questions that I haven’t answered, I have some knowledge on paper!

stockings and sandals

As the day has worn on, my feet have started regaining some feeling in terms of the swelling. I’ve kept them elevated but just like my sleeping self, my awake self also gets restless very easily. Sure I could sit and watch a marathon on HGTV or Netflix before surgery, but I had the freedom to get up whenever I needed to move, go to the bathroom, refill my cup of water, and anything else. I still haven’t taken any pain medication other than Tylenol, but that may change as the night goes on.

Lastly, I realized that I was only given half of the antibiotic pills I was supposed to receive, so I only have enough to last me through tomorrow morning. I called the office but the emergency doctor just took my name and number and said that I would be called back at some point. If nothing has been done by tomorrow afternoon, I’m calling them back. I don’t want an infection!

Post-Foot Surgery: Day 1

I survived! And I didn’t pass out at all! Although there were a number of times when I was pretty darn close. But I breathed and got through it. If you’re wondering about my procedure, you can read this post or this one for little more background!

My appointment was at 1pm today and the doctor saw me very soon after I arrived with Tom at the office. I brought a couple books, my phone with extra battery, and earbuds so that I had options to drown out any sounds I may not like and take my mind off the whole procedure as it happened.

There was a curtain that Dr. Kirell swung in front of me to cut off my line of sight of my feet. I was super nervous, so he asked if I wanted some laughing gas. “Well, sure! If you’re offering!”

“No liquor in the office, so it’s the best I can do,” he said. Alrighty the ! He gave me a nose mask emitting nitrous oxide, which kicked in slowly, and felt pretty great. He gave me the remote to the TV in the corner, so I put in HGTV because I love it and Fixer Upper was in marathon mode. Dr. Kirell also kept up conversations, so that helped take my mind off the upcoming procedure.

Within 10 minutes, he started doing something to my feet and it hurt.

A lot.

And it was a deep, stabbing pain.

I asked if I should be feeling it and he said, “This is the anesthesia; you’ll feel everything until the anesthesia kicks in. It’s a catch 22.” Yowza, it hurt!!! He told me I could scream if I wanted but I just said “ow ow ow ow ow…” while inhaling and exhaling deep breaths until the pain subsided. He had to poke my feet so many times with anesthesia needles and it was the worst.

But really, it was the worst part. Once my feet were shot up, he let them sit for a few minutes to let the anesthesia really set in. I could feel his hands touching my feet, I could feel any pressure applied, and I could feel temperature changes. But no pain. Whew!

He took the nitrous oxide away once my feet we prepped and we started the operation. He started by fracturing my big toe to make it straight. There was a drill involved, but because it didn’t hurt, I was okay with it. I seriously thought I was going to freak by the sound and feeling-without-feeling of my bone being drilled and broken, but I was good! He then did the same in my little toe.

Anytime I felt a twinge of pain, I let him know and he stopped right away to give some more anesthesia to the area.

He then went on the work on my right foot. He did the little toe first, breaking it for alignment and then liquefying the bone. He asked if I wanted to see this part. “It’s like squeezing a pimple.” Count me in!

We moved the curtain and my foot looked fine, with the exception of the tiny cut in the outside of my foot. He then squeezed around the hole and stuff started losing out! Gahhhhh it was awesome! Tom and I have watched multiple pimple/cyst videos, loving every disgusting minute. Weird, but true.

He then did the same to my right big toe, breaking it and then liquefying the excess bone. I watched that one too. Lastly for my right foot, he cut the tendons that caused the little toes to be pulled upwards. That part was painful, he needed to add a bunch more anesthesia to complete it. It was also weird feeling and hearing the tendon being cut. *shudder*

I texted Tom, who was in the waiting room working on his computer, about the liquid bone. He told me to tape it, so I told Dr. Kirell that I wanted to record the last bone squeezing. (Isn’t it funny that we still say “tape” even though no one uses tales for videos anymore?)

He was totally okay with it, so he went back to finish my left foot with breaking and liquefying the big toe bone. When it came time, we moved the curtain and I pressed record as he started squeezing. It was so gross but so satisfying and fascinating at the same time.

I’m including the video here, but squeamish people be warned: it’s kind of gross.

After both feet were finished (it was now 4 hours later), he took X-rays and then wrapped them up with medicated bandages. We called Tom into the room because we were almost done. I didn’t ask him to be in the room because I didn’t want to expose him to the grossness. We didn’t need anyone passing out.

Dr. Kirell showed me the X-rays and they look so straight and my feet look so skinny! Dr. Weisenthal stopped by to see how things were going and commented on my X-rays, saying my feet were so pretty and they looked perfect on the X-rays.

Throughout the entire procedure, Dr. Kirell talked to me about so many different things, it was really soothing and kept my mind elsewhere. Dr. Weisenthal also stopped in multiple times to check in, so they were both very active in the process and kept me sane. I didn’t pick up either of my books and only texted a couple times, mostly updating Tom.

When everything was finished, they put on these really fashion-forward sandals on my feet. I stood up and felt so weird because my feet were numb, super bandaged, and I had those super cute sandals on. I hobbled to the bathroom because I hadn’t used it in 5 hours. My walk resembled that of someone wearing snow shoes; I had to bend my knees to keep my feet somewhat flat as I made my way to the bathroom.

They went over my medications (Cipro: antibiotic, Prednisone: for swelling, and Vicodin: pain killer). Tom pulled up his car to the door and I hobbled out and got myself in the car. The car ride was fine; Dr. K had shot me up with a strong anesthetic before leaving saying it was my party favor. Apparently this is supposed to work for 12 hours, so I should be okay through the night. We shall see!

I’ve taken it easy all evening, keeping my feet elevated and only walking when necessary. Hopefully sleeping isn’t too difficult!