SPECIAL BUNION HEALTH REPORT

Consider these 5 Recommendations to Follow Before Your First Appointment with a Bunion Surgeon

After meeting with my podiatrist and interviewing several readers about their experience, here are five of the most important rules to follow before your first appointment.

1.  Make decisions for the right reasons. Long-term health first. Then best time. Then money. I realized that I was letting my financial/time constraints make my decision and keep me from seeking a 2nd and 3rd opinion. I had reservations about moving forward so quickly within just a few weeks with only one doctor’s perspective, but I told myself I had to do it “now” because the pain in my foot was getting worse, I had a limited window of time, and spending extra money on 2nd and 3rd opinions wasn’t necessary. Live and learn. But now you don’t have to because you can learn from my mistakes and lessons learned as well as my good choices.

It’s your health and your feet that you’ll live with for the rest of your life, not a car or a house that you can trade up or sell. When I make the decision again, I will choose for my long-term health first, then time, then money.

Rather than stress yourself out by waiting until the last minute, work backwards from your best outcome (healthy feet as you grow older and time to enjoy your life). Plan ahead for how much time off and how much money you will need for surgery and recovery time and create a savings account just for that “project” so you make your decisions for the right reasons.

2.  Give yourself extra preparation time. How much time have you allowed yourself to do your research and make a decision? The last thing you want to do is feel like you’re making a rushed decision (like I did) and then end up wishing you done things differently after your surgery.

Take your time researching. I recommend the following:

  • Month 1:

o   Research and read about bunion surgery and doctors. Ask for referrals from friends.

o   Plan the best time for your surgery

  • Month 2:

o   Interview three doctors. Include a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon.

o   Be sure that each one isn’t recommended by the previous doctors you’ve seen.

o   Ask them how far ahead you need to schedule surgery so that it fits in your best time window.

  • Month 3:

o   Choose your doctor based on how confident and safe you felt with their answers to the questions you’ve asked.

o   Call the doctor’s office and give the scheduling team your best surgery date options. Remember it’s your life you’re working around first, then your doctor’s schedule.

3.  Do your homework. Answer these questions before you make your first appointment:

  • Who have you gotten your referrals from? If you used the Internet or Yellow Pages, promise me that you will not schedule surgery with that surgeon until you have talked with at least 3, preferably 5 of his clients. I know it’s an inconvenience to ask but this is your body, your mobility, and the rest of your life you’re making a decision about. Be conscious and protective of yourself.
  • How much research have you done online watching videos and looking at different doctor’s websites?
  • What do you know about your doctor’s success rate? If the doctor you’re considering doesn’t have a website, can you “drop by” to get a feel for their office environment? Are you keeping notes on each doctor you’ve been referred to?
  • Ask questions. Write out your questions and ask other bunion survivors what questions they wished they’d asked their doctor before surgery. Take your list of questions with you to each appointment and check off each question as you ask it and get an answer.
  • If your doctor pressures you into making a quick decision or makes you feel uneasy, take a deep breath, and sleep on it. You want to make your decision based on your needs and schedule, as much as when the surgery suite is available or when your doctor is taking a vacation.

 4.  Take the time to look for a doctor in your immediate area before you sign on with one from out of town. I found my surgeon by doing what you and a lot of people are doing now – searching the internet for information. His online infomercial followed by his high tech in-person presentation, his obvious perfectionism and the testimony from three women in the waiting room who said he’d been their 2nd or 3rd opinion was so compelling.

I wasn’t motivated to do more research than make two last-minute calls to other doctors, both of whom I was told by their receptionists couldn’t see me until after my surgery date was scheduled for this doctor, hence why I suggest starting your research 3-6 months in advance of your surgery window. Having options builds confidence.

I drove 90 minutes one way to go to my surgeon because of his excellent reputation and because I had two time windows I was working with – my business slow time which is summer and my insurance deductible for the year – I chose his reputation for excellence over more research to find someone comparable in my city because I hadn’t planned enough ahead of time. As I learned after the fact, there are several competent doctors in my city and had I used any one of them, I would have saved hundreds of dollars in gas, hours of stressful driving time, and had more people to help me in my immediate community.

If you live in a rural area and/or can’t find a doctor you resonate with in your city, by all means, if you can afford the time and extra expense, and have a caregiver who can support you, it doesn’t matter where they are located. But if time, money and/or support are key factors, give yourself 3-6 months of planning time for your surgery so you can make the decision from strength rather than stress.

5.  Always have a Plan B for everything, especially your 24-hours-after-surgery-person, especially if you’re single. As soon as I knew my surgery date, I contacted a friend who confirmed she was available to take me to the surgical center and could be my caregiver for 24 hours after. We locked in the dates on our calendars and I relaxed, grateful for her and to have plans taken care of. Four days before surgery I called to reconfirm the details of my plans with her. She said that a day earlier she was offered consulting work (she’s self-employed)and  that she wouldn’t be able to help me. Panic set in. I scrambled, called other people and no one was available. I assumed I’d have to cancel my surgery. This is not what you want a few days before surgery. Have a Plan B strategy and person.

Fortunately, because my friend is incredibly creative and caring, she heard my concern, called me back and came up with a new plan. She’d pick me up, drop me off at the surgical center, get her nails done while waiting, return to pick me up and we go a day early to the hotel she was staying at during her consulting project. I would stay in her room, with room service and housekeepers to check on me. It turned out amazingly well, however, if that hadn’t worked out I would have had to cancel my surgery because as a single self-employed person with no children or family in town and working from a home office, I had no one else to care for me at the last minute.

If I had it to do over again, I would have done more research, and more importantly, I would have gone to a podiatrist at the first sign of pain and twisting toes, not waited the two years I did to take action. It would have saved me surgery on my second toe and all the complications that have come with that. Take care of your feet. You’re worth it.

ATTENTION

These 5 key actions are just the beginning.
If you found this report helpful, keep reading, keep asking questions,
and take action before you experience more pain.

Plan ahead and get the answers you need and deserve before you need them. 
I’ve done the footwork for you.

Order the 160-page ebook  today
Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery
and receive the following additional checklists and reports for free:

  • Weekly and Monthly Bunion Surgery and Recovery Planning Checklist for steps to take before and after your surgery to keep you stress-free, relaxed, and comfortable. (This checklist alone is worth the price of your first doctor’s appointment.)
  • 25 Critical Questions to Ask Your Podiatrist or Orthopedic Surgeon Before You Schedule Bunion Surgery
  • 10 Powerful Tips for a Successful  First Meeting with Your Bunion Doctor

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A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, reported by The Clarion-Ledger, found that 73 percent of women have a shoe-related foot problem. Forty-two percent of women admitted they would wear a shoe that was uncomfortable. Okay, so the report was done by people in the business of fixing feet, but that’s still a lot of women!

It’s been nine months since my bunion surgery and I just bought three new pairs of shoes – all sandals, two pair with 1 1/2 inch heels and one pair with 2 1/2 inch heels, a heel height I haven’t worn in over a decade.

All the shoes have slight annoyances that border on almost uncomfortable enough to take back, but I’m hoping that a few more wearings will break them in and the leather will stretch enough to accommodate my feet, not the other way around.

Thank goodness I was smart enough to look for 1/4 inch rubber bottomed soles, which Naturalizer and Lifestride make, and add an adhesive gel padding to the insole for more comfort.

The extra padding is better than nothing, but the gel rolls up at the edges and becomes sticky on your feet, which requires reflattening every time you wear the shoes, and which my toes try to adjust when I’m sitting in meetings. Ten dollars at Famous Footwear.

Save your money and buy thicker soled shoes or use the gel-rolling as exercise for nervous toes that are hoping you’ll choose shoes with arch support, a lower heel, and a wide toe box.

I just found an excellent overview of the major reasons for bunion surgery, the risks of bunion surgery (I have experienced all of them but an infection) and what to expect before, during, and after bunion surgery from the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Based on my personal experience, this information is the most accurate I have run across.

Here’s a list of the risks of bunion surgery:

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to:

  • stiffness
  • numbness
  • swelling
  • delayed healing
  • infection

Other complications may include recurrence of the bunion, nerve damage, and continued pain. The surgery may also result in over-correction of the problem, in which the big toe extends away from the other toes.

There may be other risks depending upon your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your physician prior to the procedure.

I’m sitting in the waiting room at my car service center (Acura Kearny Mesa in San Diego – they’re great! They even provide free wireless service!) waiting for the news about whether my right rear brake needs to be repaired (interesting – I wonder if there’s any metaphor here – my right foot is my bunion surgery foot that needs to be repaired again.

The latest issue of Vogue was calling to me from the coffee table so I picked it up and lo and behold, I opened to a page (p. 420) for a $15 discount on Yoga Toes if you use the coupon code VOG at www.yogapro.com or call 1-800-488-8414. This is great news for you! If you haven’t tried this product, you will LOVE it!

You may remember me telling you in a previous post or two how much I LOVE these toe muscle stretchers. I use them at the end of the day, I use them when I meditate, and I take them with me when I travel. They’ve really helped manage the post-surgery pain on my right foot and relieve aching on my left foot after a full day of standing and walking.

Love your feet; they’ll take you anywhere you want.

For more bunion surgery recovery resources, check out
Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery & Recovery

Six months ago today I had bunion surgery on my first and second toes. I can walk again. I can do yoga again (except for jumping backwards or forwards in downward dog).

I cannot walk barefoot or dance without pain on the sole of my foot because the bone of the third toe is pushing through the bottom, just like the second toe used to. The surgeon said that sometimes secondary problems that have always been there but have gone unnoticed, show up after surgery because they’re no longer masked by the bigger problem (bunion) that is now resolved. (Hmmm…is there any chance that maybe he just didn’t look deeply enough at the issue because he only spent five minutes with me before surgery looking at my x-rays and foot to give me a diagnosis?)

And my second toe is still elevated by 1/4 inch from the floor because of the scar tissue tightening it up. To wear shoes I have to rearrange that second toe so it lays down straight and doesn’t sit on top of my third toe in order to get my shoes on. (God love YogaToes)

Oh, and now I have additional pain in my heel when I bend over and my lower back constantly aches for the first few hours of the day after waking up or sitting too long.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out that way. So I won’t be going back to the surgeon for corrective surgery. I will be asking him for copies of all my x-rays and records so I can take them with me to the 2nd Opinion doctor for a review.

TIP: Get copies of your x-rays each time you visit your doctor. Keep them for your own records. You never know when you might need them, and the longer you wait, the more difficult it could be to get them.

In the meantime, I’m visualizing my foot returning to it’s healthy state. I heard a great affirmation to help with that:

“Infinite intelligence lives within me and created
all that I am – my bones, my muscles, my tissues,
my organs, all of me, and it knows how to heal me.
I am perfectly healthy now.”

Now if my foot would just figure that out. Or is it my brain?

I am grateful to my surgeon for helping me to resolve my foot pain. I’m grateful to the 2nd opinion doctor for helping me recover successfully. I am grateful to my body for knowing how to heal itself. I am grateful to my foot for enduring the pain and allowing me to walk again. I am grateful for the New Balance 825 shoes and the orthotics that allow me to walk comfortably in the canyons and along the beach. I am grateful to be alive.

Long live feet!

My Yoga Toes arrived and I love them! They really help create space between my toes and since my surgery, I really need that. They are kind of clunky at first but as the directions say, if you wet them a little, they’re easier to put on.

The directions say you can put them in the freezer or the microwave. I’ll let you know how that goes. (Oh, I mean wearing them after they’ve been heated up or cooled off. Not to be confused with eating.)

If you decide to walk around in them, don’t. You’ll trip. But do get them.

Click on the photo for learn more.

I just ordered my first pair of Yoga Toes (size Medium). The testimonials are so compelling I couldn’t resist. If you have used YogaToes, post a comment below and let me know how they worked for your bunions. As soon as my YogaToes arrive, I’ll let you know the results.

Here’s what the website has to say:

YogaToes® Revolutionize Foot Care

What your podiatrist won’t tell you about foot care is that it’s easy – routine exercise keeps your feet in shape, just like the rest of your body.Now there is a product to do the work for you – YogaToes. They work while you kick your feet up and relax. YogaToes will stretch, strengthen, and align foot muscles. This action increases circulation, straightens bent toes, and can even realign the bones. YogaToes are truly revolutionary.

YogaToes help relieve foot pain and improve strength, flexibility and appearance. Don’t wait until small problems become debilitating. Don’t waste hours and money at the doctor’s office. YogaToes tackle the problems at their source, keeping your feet healthy with exercise.

We’ll see.

[Postnote: They arrived. I love them!]