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Showing posts from 2017

Surgery Chronicles: 12 Weeks and Progress

I'm now more than 12 weeks recovered from my second (and final!) foot surgery, and life is starting to feel a little more normal. When I last wrote an update, seven weeks ago (still blaming Irma for all of my delays), I had just gotten off of crutches but would wear my boot for two more weeks. I've been out of the boot and walking in shoes for just over five weeks. The constant discomfort I've felt in my foot from swelling is finally starting to wane. I work in the office now, I do my own groceries, and I even attended a work conference recently, which meant lots of walking at airports and the conference hotel, frequent standing, and few opportunities to elevate and ice. I was very concerned about how my feet, particularly the left one, would endure. And while it wasn't comfortable, I made it through, no worse for the wear in the end.

I joined a new gym/community center recently, with a new and beautiful outdoor pool, and I'm so happy that I'm able to use it n…

Irma: A (Mostly) Photo Essay

For nearly three weeks I've struggled to find the right words to write about Hurricane Irma, which destroyed islands in the Caribbean, then hit South Florida, eventually coming up the center of the state. The Tampa Bay region got really lucky in the end, as it avoided a direct hit and the storm had diminished to a category 2 by the time it arrived. And now Puerto Rico is experiencing a humanitarian crisis after being pummeled by Hurricane Maria. My heart goes out to those people.

My plan when severe weather is forecast to for Tampa is always to go to my sister's house, as the area I live in is highly flood prone and she is on higher ground. This time was no exception; however, her plan was different. She wanted to leave, head north, get out of the state, and she wanted me to go with her and the rest of the family. But I was not in a place to pack up and leave. I had real concerns about my foot recovery; I was about eight weeks post-surgery and very newly out of the boot and in…

Surgery Chronicles: I Exhale

I've really been holding my breath with this recovery, more so than the last one for some reason. After getting past the three-week point (which was two weeks ago, when I started to write this), I felt a little more at ease. Since then I've been changing my own dressing daily and slowly weaning off of crutches so I can now walk around in the boot—hands-free! I'm still a slave to icing and elevating as much as possible throughout the day. But the very best part? There's no other foot left to do. After this, I'm done, done, done. I can start to return to a life not defined by sitting and waiting and feeling confined and limited and trying my hardest to heal but having little actual control over any of it.

I wrote in my last post about the difficult emotions I'd been having throughout this second surgery recovery. I think I underestimated the psychological toll I would take doing one foot right after the other. And while there was a feeling of elation after gettin…

Surgery Chronicles: Hard Feelings

I'm one and a half weeks out from my second foot surgery, and, by all important measures, I'm doing well. But boy has the past week been difficult. In the first few days post-surgery I was in a pretty good mood; the surgery had gone well, I was in the excellent care of my mom, and I had made it past the last major hurdle of this months-long event. All I had to look forward to was recovery and progress and gradually returning to my normal life, whatever that might look like.

But even though I've gone through this process once already, it's still just as difficult this time around. There's the constant worrying about this weird feeling or that new pain, the accidental step in the middle of the night when I forgot which foot was injured, and the agonizing wait time between appointments. Now it's compounded by concern over whether I'm taking good enough care of my first foot. Did I ruin the surgery when I stubbed my toe falling off an exercise ball? Am I using …

Surgery Chronicles: Over the Hump

Two days ago I had my second foot surgery, and I'm happy to report that all went well—just as good as the first. I'm super relieved to have it done, even though I have many weeks of recovery ahead of me. The hardest part is behind me, and I'm feeling especially grateful that I only have two feet!
As a person who thrives on routine and enjoys tradition, I wanted to repeat some of the same elements of my last surgery, since it was successful (some might call that superstition, but I prefer tradition). So the night before surgery I enjoyed a dinner at the same restaurant and in the same company as last time (and even with the same bafflingly forgetful server, which I could have done without). And on surgery day, I wore the same outfit (also because how many chances do you get to wear pajamas in public?).
But there were some differences going into surgery this time, as I had a good idea of what to expect from my first one. That knowledge was beneficial in that it allowed me to p…

Surgery Chronicles: First Steps

This past week I took my first steps in a real shoe with my new foot. As with any first steps, I felt it worthy of recording:


I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but my surprise, it felt perfectly fine—no pain. There were a few tears, though. I got rather emotional after so many weeks of anticipation, of protecting and worrying about my foot and wondering if I'd be able to use it again, even though I knew rationally that I would. It's very different to experience the act than to imagine it. Now it was real. Of course, I'd been walking in a boot for a few weeks, but it's just not the same. The boot intentionally keeps your foot from flexing and bending, so it's being cradled and coddled, which means you get used to walking without really using your foot. So in my first attempts at walking, I still wasn't really using my foot because that's what I'd gotten used to.

Once I started walking around more, I realized I also wasn't stepping evenly with m…

Surgery Chronicles: Home Stretch

I'm now into my sixth week since surgery. I'm on track, making good progress, but I'm so close to time frame for recovery—six to eight weeks. My five-week follow-up last week went well, but I left feeling overwhelmed. The doctor said he didn't need to see me for another four weeks, which is just in time for my pre-op appointment for my second foot (!).
To-Do List Since the appointment, I've no longer been using crutches (yay!), and I've been working to help my incision heal completely (I'll spare details), at which point I'll need to start treating it with a special scar gel to keep the tissue from hardening. Also during this interim, I'll need to be a bit more aggressive with my toe exercises to increase flexibility (i.e., make it hurt). And, when I feel comfortable enough, I can try gradually transitioning from the boot to an athletic shoe. Once I feel good in athletic shoes, I can resume driving. That feels like a lot of stuff to manage on my own…

Surgery Chronicles: Halfway There?

Earlier this week I had my three-week follow-up appointment. I'd been really looking forward to this appointment because (1) I hate not feeling reassured in every moment that all is well, and I had to wait a whole two weeks to get that reassurance, and (2) this appointment would hopefully be the one where I could remove all my bandaging for good and get permission to start weaning off the crutches and try walking just in my boot.

For the most part, that was the outcome. Although, my doctor wanted to put one light layer of dressing on, until today, when I had permission to remove it and finally wash my foot after three and a half weeks! l need to make sure to keep the incision site clean and apply neosporin and bandaids daily. Shape aside, which is lovely, my foot is pretty gnarly looking. The skin is all hard and wrinkly from having been swollen and then shrunken down, and also from the amount of time it was bandaged up. Now that I can look at it, I don't really want to. I kno…

Surgery Chronicles: Hazards Outside My Door

My recovery has been going well, and the better I've felt the more I've ventured out into the public. But the public I once knew is now full of hazards that have at times led to near falls, falls, panic, and an acute awareness of every inch of space around me—especially floors and doors. Crutching itself is not really difficult or scary; it's maneuvering through tight spaces, on unlevel ground, up and down steps, on water-spotted floors, and through weighted doors that makes it somewhat terrifying. Whereas I used to take my nieces to the bathroom in a restaurant, they now have to take me because I can't hold the door for myself. Other dangers while standing: pivoting, reaching, squatting down, leaning, getting up from a low chair—basically anything done standing on one foot except simply standing still, which gets tiring, too. I'm often grateful for the years of yoga classes I've had, which have undoubtedly helped my balance and made would-be falls into just ne…

Surgery Chronicles: Two Weeks Down

At the end of week two, I'm home on my own and feeling pretty good. But it definitely feels like time has moved slowly. Hopefully the coming weeks will go by a little faster, now that I'm set up for a routine and able to do more for myself.
First Follow-up I had my first follow-up appointment last week, which I'd been looking forward to pretty much since the day after surgery. Possibly because I was anticipating it so much, it felt like it would never come. But it did, and it went very well. I got my bulky dressing and "upper foot" cast off, and I finally saw my new foot! Of course, it wasn't beautiful; it was still tinted orange from the betadine used in surgery prep, it was swollen and a little bruised, and my incision was still healing and had strips of medical tape running along it (I'll save a barefoot photo for a later post). But my bunion was gone and my toe was aligned! That was the goal, and it was achieved.

The doctor said it only looked like I …

Surgery Chronicles: Day 4

First things first: my surgery went very well. The doc told me so as I was coming out of my slumber, but he also spoke at length with my parents. There were no complications, no real surprises, and if the healing goes as it should, the doc said he doesn't see why I shouldn't be able to get back to running—very welcome news!

My doctor, by the way, is Matthew Werd, at Foot and Ankle Associates in Lakeland. I fretted a lot over which surgeon to choose; I'd had three consultations, and it came down to two. One was an orthopedist I'd seen for injuries, and she happened to have performed bunionectomies on two of my coworkers, who were happy with their results. But her recovery program seemed far too good to be true. Walking around within a few days, no boot, and the second foot done within 10 days of the first. Maybe it would have been perfectly fine, but in the end I decided I wanted the more cautious approach, albeit with a much longer recovery period. Nonetheless, I'm…