It’s day five post bunion surgery. The past four days have been a blur of pain, fear (will my feet ever be ‘normal’ again), boredom and catnaps. I spent quite a lot of time yesterday searching online for shoes I might possibly be able to wear when I head back to work on 7 May. That searching led me to a couple of blogs from other women recovering from bunion surgeries – I appear to be in the minority having had both feet done, but I also need to count myself lucky, as my bunions were not as bad as many others and therefore my surgery wasn’t as complicated as it might have been. Judging from other people’s accounts, the complexity of the surgery is an indicator of the length of the recovery period. I also have only to contend with osteotomies (wedge resections) in my big toes – other poor ladies have had one to two of their other toes straightened as well. Ouch, bloody ouch. There was a bright spot yesterday: the lovely people at my work sent me the MOST ENORMOUS bunch of flowers! God bless ’em. My long-suffering husband has been a fabulous nurse – bringing me everything I need and helping me get in and out of the shower, as well as to/from the loo!
I’ve been getting myself in and out of the bathroom using some crutches (seen below, draped with a scarf I finished knitting yesterday) – just mastering the crutches was interesting – I’ve never broken a bone before so have never needed to learn how to use the blessed things. They do help a lot, however. I wonder how long I’ll be using them (or at least one)…
So, to my feet. The right foot is more painful than the left (I’m told this it is quite common in bilateral bunionectomies that one foot usually has more pain) and they are both still quite swollen. My toes peeking out the tops of their bandages look like little pork sausages (they’re still stained a bit yellow from whatever they swab you with in theatre).
I must confess to having no idea as to what’s under the bandages! My surgeon told me he’d explain it all to me when I go to see him next Thursday. He’ll take off the dressings and I guess we’ll see for ourselves then. You don’t want to be too squeamish when you have this kind of surgery!
Until then, I have to remain in bed with my feet slightly elevated (5cm higher than my bottom, so said the nurse) and do nothing. This is to help the toes mend and to reduce the swelling. I might have to try some cold packs today – my feet still feel rather warm (that’s to do with the swaddling) and fat. And judging from what I read around the web, anything you can do to reduce the swelling is good. As for drugs, while I’m off my ‘hillbilly heroin’ (endone), I’m still having panadol and nurofen several times a day. When I’m in bed the pain is only really a 1 to 2 on a scale of 10. When I’m walking around in my surgical ‘boots’, it’s more like a 3. But when I get back into bed and put my feet back up, the pain levels increase to a 4 or 5. The panadol and nurofen help keep this under control and help prevent the fear of pain (which is often worse than the actual pain!). I need to keep reminding myself that although it may hurt, I can’t let my feet/legs atrophy too much or the rehabilitation will take longer than it needs to. No pain, no gain, right?
In line with this thinking, I’ve also started to do some tentative wiggling of my toes. While I won’t actively exercise my toes until two weeks post-op, I need to make sure they’re not getting too stiff through lack of use. I also asked Carl to bring me his resistance band – I need to do some exercises with my upper body to make sure all the muscle mass I’ve gained over the past two months doesn’t just waste away. Once my feet are less sore/swollen, I’ll do some gentle leg/ankle/feet exercises too.
So there you have it. The surgery went fine, the pain in the first few days blows your head off, but there are ways to manage and the most important thing is to rest and elevate the feet. If I follow doctor’s orders, this should help reduce the swelling and therefore the recovery time. Fingers (but not toes) crossed!