Ouch. Even celebrities get bunions. And it’s not pretty. The UK’s Daily Mail has identified several famous women who suffer with bunions. Tilda Swinton, Gwenneth Paltrow, and Victoria Beckham all have bunions, along with Oprah, and Nigella Lawson. Be good to your feet this summer. Read more…
This story puts an entirely new spin on a walkathon.
“Foyil, Oklahoma is the hometown of Andy Payne, winner of the famous 84 day 2400 mile transcontinental footrace known as the “Bunion Derby.” The story of the Bunion Derby is one of the most flamboyant and original schemes to promote the Mother Road.
I laughed when I first found mention of a mountain called Charlie’s Bunion in The Smoky Mountain News. “That gets us to Charlies Bunion (formerly called Fodderstack), where rocky outcrops along the ridge were exposed in the mid-1920s when a fire swept over the crest exposing the humus, which was washed completely away shortly after in a deluge.
The curious place name resulted in 1929 when Smokemont native Charlie Conner was hiking with Kephart, Masa, and others along the high divide. When they paused for a rest on the rocks, Conner took his boots and socks off, exposing a bunion or two that rivaled the surrounding stones. Eying Conner’s feet, Kephart remarked, ‘Charlie, I’m going to get this place put on a government map for you.’ This happened. (There are also several versions of this story, all true.)”
But after seeing photos at www.foottrails.com, I’m definitely having an “Ohhh Effect!” which is something I aim to have at least 3x a day. Now I have another goal to add to my list of 1000 Things to Do/Be/Have/See Before I Die: stand at the top of Charlie’s Bunion along the Appalachian Trail and celebrate the miracles of life, nature, and feet, with or without bunions. The mountain looks awesome and the view is said to be SPECTACULAR! And my feet, after bunion surgery, can get me there! What a miracle!
Day 30: Amazing to think it’s been a month since my surgery! I’m walking, albeit slowly still, but am able to wear my new walking shoes without pain. But forget my pearlized square toed 2 inch heels! My foot is still too swollen.
I look at the comparison of my two feet and still can’t believe at times that my right foot is mine. I wish I could have waved a magic wand and healed without surgery. At the same time I’m grateful we have the technology to do such miraculous work. Yet, I do wonder if this foot will ever move as easily as it did before.
Day 28: Went back to work this evening, standing for five hours at a power networking event at which I was speaking on staying inspired through challenge and change. I chose to wear my boot, which was very smart as I needed the extra support to stand as long as I did. This was one time when I was grateful for stage stairs with railings to lean on.
One of the most fun parts of the night was the opening of my speech. During the cocktail hour several people asked what happened and why I was wearing the boot. I asked what they thought happened and got all sorts of answers, so I decided to hold a spontaneous contest and the person whose answer got the most audience applause won a copy of my Inspiring Words postcards.
The winner – a manager at a large convention center – said, “You’re wearing the boot as a last resort in motivating someone.” The audience went wild with laughter and she got her cards.
The post surgery notes from the doctor say that from week 2 to week 3 you can stand or walk for up to 30 minutes an hour. Yes, and at a snail’s pace.
But I CAN walk and that is amazing and exciting and a gift!
I’ve been exercising my big toe as directed 10x back and forth for 10 seconds at a time for 10 minutes a day. You can do it in chunks of 2 minutes 5x a day or 5 minutes 2x a day or 10x for 10 minutes once a day. My foot is a little swollen and my big toe is black and blue from the extra pressure, but it’s moving and I’m able to crinkle my toes and put pressure on them to move them forward on the floor.
Also checked in to scheduling my 2nd surgery for November, which will be 12 weeks post op. That way my insurance will still cover it with this year’s deductible and I’ll still be able to visit my family at Christmas, which involves flying, driving, and 2 sets of 20+ stairs to the guest bedroom.
Confirmed my first Feldenkrais appointment for September 12 to realign my walking patterns.
OH and I almost forgot! I wrenched my back on Friday (5 days ago) and thought I was paralyzed. I had bent down to pick up something and the next thing I knew I heard something pop and I fell on to the floor in tears wondering if I should move. I waited about 15 minutes so I could calm down and feel what was going on. I could move my toes so I knew I wasn’t paralyzed but my lower back was definitely in pain. I crawled to the phone, rolled myself up onto my stomach on my exercise ball and reached for the phone. I debated calling 911 but then opted for my nurse sister in Wisconsin. No answer at work, no answer from her pager. Finally I reached her at home.
“Eileen, I may cry but bear with me. I pulled my back and I’m scared I really hurt myself.”
“Can you feel your toes?”
“You’re not paralyzed.”
I began to cry and asked her when I would know if I should call the doctor.
“If you lose control of your bladder or bowels.”
I laughed. “Really?”
“Really. Take a few Advil and keep moving. The worst thing you can do is lay down and not move. Yes, you’ll be in pain, but moving is better than not moving.”
Great. I’m not supposed to walk on my foot, but I’m supposed to walk for my back. Okay. So I did and just to cover all my bases, I took four 200 mg Advil, and a 1/2 of a 5 mg Vicoden that I got for pain after surgery. Went to my writer’s workshop to distract myself. That was Friday. It’s Tuesday now and I’m still feeling the pain but it’s lessened dramatically. Stretching helps. Walking helps.
Oh and another thing. I’ve developed some kind of pressure in my chest that I think is heartburn or muscle aches. Not sure. Called my Internist and she said it doesn’t sound like a heart issue or clot (CLOT?!) so watch it. What what? Is it what I’m eating and drinking. Too much diet soda? Or maybe it’s lack of exercise and my muscles are atrophying or maybe it’s wearing a boot that’s screwing up my body alignment along with a pinched nerve in my lower back. Or maybe I’m just anxious and antsy.
Well, at least I have control of bladder and bowels. And I can walk and talk and think and smile and hug and kiss and look up at the sky. And when the shoe fits, I’ll wear it.
This is the Aircast I was given to wear for the next month. It’s big and clumsy and it’s a blessing! There are small airbags on the inside that you inflate or deflate to stabilize your ankle. I am so grateful for this boot!
To think that ten years ago, people were bedridden or in a wheelchair for six week to heal from bunion surgery, and I’m walking with this Aircast within a week of surgery! Amazing!
Whoever invented this, THANK YOU!
The aircast is great. The driving slipper is great. Life is great. I can walk without pain and every day is a little easier.
I switched back to my stick-shift car today. Thanks Kim for the two weeks of driving your automatic shift Altima. It really helped me. And I learned something interesting. With the sensitivity of my right foot on the brake and gas pedals, I’m driving slower, 20 mph slower. At 60mph on a California freeway, I’m saving gas but irritating a lot of SUV drivers and motorcyclists. We could all stand to slow down a bit in our driving and in our lives. Maybe this will start a trend – the Slow Driving Movement, like the Slow Food Movement.
I’m still icing my foot a few times a day, taking arnica morning and evening, and starting the stretching exercises on my big toe (“Leave the 2nd toe alone,: the doctor said.)
What an AMAZING GIFT it is to live in a body and experience the healing process.
There are so many bunion post-surgery and recovery details that I didn’t think of until after the fact. Here are 12 tips I’ve learned to make it easier for you to successfully recover from bunion surgery:
1. GET A HANDICAP PASS. Went out to get the mail and lunch today. I wish I’d gotten a handicap pass. Not sure where to apply for one, but will look into it. (So many details you don’t think about until after the fact.)
2. WEAR YOUR WALKING CAST BOOT EVEN IF YOU FEEL GREAT. Drove to the post office. Wore my driving boot to the car and in the car and the “Aircast” boot, which looks like a (very) big ski boot, into the post office and to the restaurant. What a difference that walking cast makes! It’s tight but I feel secure in it and there’s only a little aching after about 15-20 minutes, which is my sign to get my leg up, which I do.
3. ARRANGE FOR AN AUTOMATIC SHIFT CAR IF YOU HAVE A STICK SHIFT. Today I stopped at the beach after a quick Mexican lunch (is that an oxymoron?) at Roberto’s. I reclined in the car (thanks Kim for exchanging cars so I could drive an automatic shift), put my foot up across the center dash board and took a 1/2 hour siesta. I get tired easily still, so even though I so want to be out in the world, I come home, put my leg up and rest. Napping is good.
4. ICE, ICE, ICE AND TAKE ARNICA. No noticeable swelling beyond what I originally experienced the first day. Bruising is intensifying on the sole of my foot. The bandage is covering the top, however, my 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes are slightly yellow and blue. I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn’t iced and taken the Arnica Montana homeopathic remedy (thanks Mimi for the reminder not to touch the pills) every day since surgery?
5. WEAR YOUR BOOT AT NIGHT IN CASE YOU FORGET YOU JUST HAD SURGERY AND GET UP TOO QUICKLY. I sleep with the blue driving boot on at night just in case I wake up and need to move quickly, but during the day, I keep my foot unbooted and propped on a long couch pillow from thigh to toe either on the bed or couch . Works great.
6. PUT PRESSURE ON YOUR HEEL. I walk from my bed or couch to the bathroom without the boot on and with most pressure on my heel. I’m only walking about 10 feet, and since I’m not feeling pain, I imagine I’m helping my foot heal with the slight movement, although I do wonder if the bone might be moving when I walk but that screw is supposed to make it seamlessly tight. I guess I’ll find out with next x-ray.
7. ANKLE ROLLS FOR CIRCULATION. I exercise my foot with ankle rolls – 10x each way on the hour. As well, I wiggle my toes and flex my feet back and forth. It feels really good to do that. Sometimes it feels like my foot is falling asleep so the movement seems very important to keep circulation moving.
8. EXERCISE WHILE YOU’RE HEALING. I’m exercising lightly doing leg lifts, crunches, bike pedals, and modified push ups on my knees – 10 to 20 of each. Read yesterday that the body heals faster with exercise.
9. MOOD SWINGS MEAN ASK FOR MORE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT. My mood wavers up and down. Being single and living alone with most friends at least 30-40 minutes away makes it lonely for me. Thank God I had 4 days at Lorna’s in the beginning and now the phone, my laptop, an internet connection and the hummingbirds that feed outside my window every few minutes.
10. BE GRATEFUL AND VISUALIZE WALKING. When I feel low, I get grateful for my new foot and all the kind people and goodness that surrounds me and I think a lot about walking again in 3 weeks and how good that will feel. That excites me!
11. DON’T MESS WITH YOUR BANDAGES. This one is tough! My next appointment is next Monday. I wish I could change the bandage now. My 2nd toe incision was still bleeding a bit when they redid the bandage 3 days after surgery so the bandage looks nasty. But all seems well along the edges and I’m not showing any signs of infection.
12. FASTER BONE HEALING? I’m told bone heals in 6-8 weeks and today I read that toe bones heal faster with screws in it. I wonder if that’s similar to baked potatoes that cook faster with nails pushed through the middle from end to end the long way? 🙂 Whatever the case, feet are amazing and healing energy is a miracle. Go feet!
Day 3 – 67 hours after surgery. My first post op visit. I walk into the consultation room and notice an evaluation form on a clipboard with a pen. I look it over and decide to fill it out when I get home. I have more to say than answering a few yes/no questions.
First of all…Oh my God!!! A new foot! Could it really be mine?! Wait til you see it without tape! Unbelievable! Truly. This is ART with a capital “A!”
When the foot assistant cuts away the last bandages I am so blown away I feel light-headed and think I’m going to faint . (It may have also been watching on an empty stomach and that a little fresh blood was still visible as the tape was being removed that made me queasy.)
I wait for the doctor to check my foot. In he comes, smiles (yay!) and says, “Hi. How are you?”
I smile and he immediately sits on a stool and reviews my foot. “Oh. Beautiful! Do you feel any pain?”
“Do you want to be on video? We have videographers here today?”
I say nothing. In fact, I’m feeling a little annoyed that he’s so quick to ask me to be in his video. I need a little more positive reinforcement and analysis before I say yes. And what about quid pro quo? I’ve spent a lot of year paying health insurance to have this done and it’s still $1500.00 out of my pocket.
And what long term results? I’m not ready to unequivocally jump up and down (literally or figuratively) based on the fact that I have little to no pain right now. The jury is still out until I’m walking on my foot with no support and everything working as it should be.
He doesn’t push. There’s an uncomfortable silence for me. He continues, “They wanted me to take the word “painless” out of my advertising so that’s why we have these evaluations now, so that we have proof that it is painless.”
Compared to others whose stories I’ve heard who haven’t used this doctor, it was virtually painless. Granted, I’ve followed his instructions, as he strongly urged, to the letter. I also have taken 1/2 of a 5 mg vicoden tablet from the prescription he gave me for the 2nd and 3rd nights just before bed so I could sleep through the night. The first night was a little weird. I have a slight ache just below my little toe off an on for a few hours with a lot of buzzing and tingling in the numb areas of my big toe and 2nd toe as my foot regained its feeling so I didn’t sleep much that night.
All that said, I am REALLY PLEASED with the initial results and I tell him so. “You did an amazing job! And my experience with you in pre-op surgery was great! Your team was great! Thank you! You know, you are a different person in the surgical suite than you are in the consultation room. You were easier and more upbeat just before surgery. You should bring that into this room. You have a great smile and it really helps me feel more comfortable about what you’re doing.
He listens and I see a slight smile. No resistance. I feel heard. I feel grateful. He begins to tape and wrap my foot. My eyes keep noticing that my third toe is now tilting skyward and resting on top of my 2nd toe. I feel annoyed and ask about it.
The doctor looks equally annoyed by my question and says these toes will all lay flat when I’m putting my weight on them.
Okay…”And what about when I’m resting?” I ask. No answer. Hmm…I ask him to make sure they’ll all be in alignment regardless of how my foot is positioned.
“If it’s a problem I can fix it when you come back to get your screws taken out.”
“If I’m going to go through all this, I expect to have the problem corrected without additional problems created. What can you do now to prevent that from happening?” I can tell he’s annoyed.
He says nothing and finishes wrapping my foot. And I’m thinking I should be more grateful.
“Look, you’re a great surgeon and a perfectionist,” I say. “I’m glad you are. I’m a perfectionist too and I want a perfect foot with perfect toes.”
He sits down and wraps my third toe so it lays flat with the others. Then he shows me a toe exercise and says to bend the big toe forward and backwards 3 times at least 5 times day. (Or was it 5 times 3 times a day?) He gets up and walks out and into another room. I hear him with a smile in his voice, “Hi, how are you?”
He returns. “Did they take your post op photos?”
“No. But I have my camera. Would you take a picture?”
He snaps a shot without question. I notice his hands. His skin is so smooth. So are his nails and cuticles. His hands are beautiful. I tell him he should see the bronze hand sculpture exhibit at Baylor University Medical Center done by a hand surgeon. His belong there.
He smiles. He gets up again to leave. I think of a million more questions. “How much bone did you take out of my second toe?” (I should have had a list of questions.)
“It was art!” He lights up and stands up.”There was no machine measurement here. This is art. I held the bone up for 10 minutes so everyone could see it! It was about the thickness of this.” He points to one side of a medical tweezer that is as thin as a piece of foil.”
I am in the presence of a great artist and I know it. But…”Why is my 2nd toe so limp? It’s like it’s just hanging there.”
“When I shortened the bone, the ligaments have more room now. Don’t touch it. Just let it heal.”
“Will the ligaments get tight again or is it always going to be this floppy?” I think I see him nod yes. I am distracted…
He looks beyond me and picks up a website magazine that I brought from the waiting room to read that is now sitting on top of my purse on the table next to the examining chair I’m sitting in. He starts browsing through it. “I’ve got to read this.”
I feel anger rising inside me. DO NOT DISMISS ME! I try to find my sense of humor. Yoo hoo. Foot is over here, I think. “Would you clarify those exercises again for me?” I say, realizing that he’s already moved on and I still have more questions to which I want answers.
“They are in your post op instructions.”
“Not in the ones I have.”
He looks surprised and looks at an assistant standing in the hallway. “Oh, that’s right.” He looks at him again and says, “Get those exercises in the instructions.” He looks at me again. He has moved on. He says, “Did you get your pictures?”
“Get her pictures for her.”
A flurry ensues. The doctor goes into another room. “Hi. How are you?”
An assistant hands me a stack of cards. I look at my before and after photos. OH MY GOD! My before picture looks like a claw. My after photo looks like a Botticelli painting! At least in comparison. 🙂 I can’t stop staring at it.
I laugh out loud when I look at the back of the cards. His business card. What a brilliant marketing strategy.
Now if he could only dial in the bedside manner during consultations to go with the spectacular surgical skill, artistry, and creative marketing, that would heaven on earth. Is that asking too much?
Perhaps for some. And for those who believe in continual improvement and going from good to great, or in this case from great to greater, what I’m talking about adding is that extra 1% that turns momentary magic into legendary mastery.
Whew! Am I being too hard on him? I guess it’s time to walk my own talk.
Stretch up 1, 2, 3, stretch down 1, 2, 3. Was that three times stretches five times a day or five stretches three times a day?