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!

Foot surgery in 1 week!

My foot surgery is is one week! I’m so excited to finally get this taken care of, but I’m nervous about the recovery. I signed up to coach volleyball at school this fall, so I really hope my feet don’t negatively impact my ability to do all that coaching entails. I also just enjoy walking and running and frolicking and working out, so I really don’t want to be off my feet for too long.

Here are a couple before pictures:

Bunions

So yeah, gross. They look even worse when I’m not standing and putting pressure on my feet because the angle of my bunions is even more dramatic. You can see how large the inner bunions are. They make all shoes, even sneakers and casual shoes like [knock-off] Toms, tight and uncomfortable. And heels? Forget it.

You can also see how crooked my baby toes are with mini-bunions of their own. So like I said in the post about my podiatrist consultation, the podiatrist will be removing both the inner and outer bunions, fixing my crooked hammertoes (the baby ones), and cutting the tendon that has caused the bunions.

My feet have been really painful lately, whether I’m running or just walking, wearing shoes or going barefoot. They just ache.

So I’m ready for them to go!

My First Podiatrist Consultation

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.

Bunion image

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!