Here we are at day nine post-surgery. One more day to go until my now-manky bandages come off – I’m hoping my surgeon explains to me tomorrow where my feet are up to and likely recovery prognosis.
My pain levels have increased a little bit, particularly in my right foot, but I suspect that’s because I spent a little more time up on my feet yesterday than I have to date. I had a friend and her son visit yesterday and we had a great natter. I sat on a dining chair with my feet up on a cushion on another chair. It was so nice to have some company – my husband I think also enjoyed having someone else to talk to apart from his ‘patient’ (who is not very patient!!). My son also enjoyed having a playmate for the morning. The visit did tire me out a lot though – all this laying around and recuperating is hard work!
So, before the memories of surgery fade all together, I thought I should write up my list of things to do when preparing for bunion surgery, as well as the things you need to think about for the immediate post-surgery period.
I will likely add to the list over time (when more things occur).
- Organise crutches (I prefer the elbow kind, as they’re less bulky, easier to manoeuvre, and don’t dig into your armpits) or walker (but I don’t recommend a walker, as it’s not very versatile – you will probably only need both crutches for the first four or five days, so you can drop down to one. With a walker it’s all or nothing!)
- My doctor recommended a walking stick to assist in balance/stabilisation after you are up and about – I’ll hold onto one crutch for the time being, but might end up with one yet (old ladies, watch out, here I come!)
- Organise a plastic chair for your shower (you won’t be able to shower standing up for some weeks, particularly as you’ll have plastic baggies on over your bandages for the first 10 days or so)
- A ‘toilet lift’ is also a good idea – we were able to borrow one from the state health service. This is basically a chair base with a toilet set that slots over your existing toilet. Its function is to provide you with an arm-chair toilet set-up. This is a great help, as sitting down onto the toilet can be quite challenging when you don’t have control over your feet!
- Lots of plastic bags/tape that will fit over your surgical boots/feet for your showering
- Steady table – get yourself one of those laptop trays – you’ll be eating a lot of your meals in bed for the first two weeks
- A bedside table if you don’t have one – you’ll need your bits and bobs at hip height so you don’t have to lean out of bed (and put pressure on your wounds)
- A bedside lamp if you don’t have one – you’ll be spending a lot of time reading and, if you’re a crafter, knitting/handquilting, etc.
- A television or computer that has TV/DVD player. It’s surprisingly boring being confined to bed
- And MOST IMPORTANT, someone to look after you/your household for at least the first two weeks. You will be pretty much helpless and completely dependent upon someone else. This is quite hard for many of modern gals who like to be in charge – at least of ourselves!
- The first time you put your feet to the floor, be prepared for a horrible, rushing feeling. I nearly fainted. It wasn’t so much the pain as the blood rushing from the rest of my body back into my feet. I had to quickly put my feet back up on the bed and lay down. Of course I started blubbering – my body’s natural reaction to mega-stress. I was quite terrified of putting my feet back down for a second time, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had thought it would be!
- The pain will probably be quite intense – if the nursing staff offer you pain meds, I strongly recommend you take them!
- Notwithstanding the pain, you will be surprised at what you can do with the help of your crutches – the hospital physio had me up on my feet (walking back on my heels) for a short time and then put me in a wheelchair and took me over to some stairs, where she had me work my way up and down about six stairs – I did it sideways, holding onto the banister, and surprised myself with the fact that I could do it without too much trouble! Our bodies are quite impressive machines, are they not?
- Stay in bed when you get home! Your doctor will tell you to keep your feet elevated – follow doctor’s orders, even if it nearly kills you to be laying around doing nothing! This will help reduce the swelling and give your feet the best chance to heal.
- Keep your mind off the pain/discomfort by reading, knitting, quilting, whatever takes your fancy. I am teaching myself to knit, which takes a lot of concentration – it takes my mind off the constant throb of my right big toe.
- Don’t plan on driving for at least six weeks – you might want to check with your car insurer – in Australia you are not covered for the first six weeks after surgery to your right foot for an automatic car, both feet for a manual.
- Be extra nice to your carer – remember, it’s hard for them to see you immobilised too. My darling husband is as tired as I am – he now not only has our two kids to care for, but also his wife. In sickness and in health!!
- Look at the long term – so much less pain for the rest of your life! Nice straight toes! Try to focus on the future, not the present (although I have had a couple of very short pity parties over the past nine days!)
At day nine, I’m really pleased at my overall progress. The pain levels for the first few days have dropped right off and now it’s just a dull throb and the occasional niggle. Not bad for just over a week since surgery.