Skip to main content

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 my foot; I was favoring the outer side of it, subconsciously avoiding the inner step where the surgery took place, where there was trauma. Now that I'm aware of it, I have to make a dedicated effort to distribute the weight equally throughout my foot with each step. I knew it would be an adjustment, but I really am learning how to walk again. And now that I'm doing it more or less correctly, it does get sore at the surgical site. But I think that's to be expected.

Speaking of sore, I had a consultation with a physical therapist yesterday. I never thought I would need physical therapy, but my doctor recommended that I try a visit after my last follow-up, when he said my big toe could be more flexible around the metatarsal joint than it was. Apparently I had not been aggressive enough with my manual toe exercises. Because I couldn't get an appointment for a couple of weeks, by the time I met with a therapist, my toe was already moving a lot better (thanks to my grueling efforts at forcing it past its comfort point). But I also got a lot more information, and an uncomfortable toe workout, from the appointment. The therapist had me do things I did not think I could do yet, like stand on just the one foot barefoot, and go up onto my toes barefoot. Each time I hesitated and asked her if she was sure it was safe. These things weren't easy or painless, but they were doable, and I didn't break anything. Then she had me attempt a task that is probably challenging for anyone--try, with my toes, to grab some marbles laid out on the floor and drop them into a container. I tried for about a solid five minutes and wasn't able to do it. It was very frustrating and I cried felt like crying. She reassured me that as soon as I did it once, it would feel easy.

There were more enjoyable aspects of the appointment, like a foot massage and a rewarding ice wrap at the end. I left with a list of activities to do on my own at home, including multiple calf stretches, which I didn't realize were so necessary until I did them with the therapist. When I thought about it, I hadn't really used my calf for heel-to-toe walking in over seven weeks. No wonder.

After a couple days of walking around in a shoe, I tried driving and found it to be comfortable enough. I would feel anxious about driving long distances or in heavy traffic, but for my short commute to work, I determined it was perfectly doable. So back to the office I went. And this is what I found pinned to my workspace wall, left by a couple of sweet coworkers:


I'll be back in the office for just a week and half before I'm out again for my next surgery and then working remotely during recovery. So I'll take advantage of the human interaction and faster internet speed while I can.

In the meantime, I've been a little too restless to read much, but I did get into coloring. I bought this book of mandalas a couple years ago when “adult” coloring was popular, and I spent about a month finishing one piece and then out the book away. But I needed something somewhat creative to do, so I pulled it back out. I've completed three pieces in the past week or so.



I upgraded from pencils to gel pens. #gamechanger

It's funny how seriously I take my color decisions, and about half the time I regret the colors I chose to put next to each other. But it's hard, because the mandalas are so intricately designed that it's hard to foresee the way everything will end up together until you've accidentally put red and green adjacent to each other a few times too many (there's nothing particularly wrong with this color combination except that it looks like Christmas to me). But the pictures always look beautiful in the end, so I think it's a good exercise for my overly analytical mind.

And speaking of my mind, I'm once again in prep mode for the next surgery, constantly making lists, checking things off, adding new things that pop into my head. I'm getting accustomed to using my new foot, less afraid of it each day and, dare I say, even pleased with it and happy that I went through all that I did. And if my last surgery is any indication of how this one should go, and there's no reason to believe it's not, I can relax a little on the lists and planning and just know that I will be in good hands, with plenty of support.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, here's what my feet look like now (I applied some filters so the incision line, which is still healing a bit, isn't so visible—in case you're squeamish):


Comments

Mark Eisel said…
Bravo Lee, well done.

People Liked to Read...

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: 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…