Bunion Surgery; Everything they don’t tell you!

I ended up getting a bunion when I was 16 years old. It was caused from wearing narrow shoes and the amount of time I wore them for. Waitressing and on my feet for 8 hours. I lived with it for so long because it wasn’t that painful and it was more than manageable. Fast forward to a few years ago. It started getting very painful, to the point where it was so painful, running became non existent. Just walking and working out became painful and my foot would swell. I finally decided it was time to get it looked at.

Exactly what I had thought was told to me by the specialist. It was a moderate, to severe bunion. At this point, surgery was the only thing that would work. So he put me on the list to see the surgeon. I saw the surgeon in May and they called me back that afternoon and said they had a surgery date in a few days. I declined as we were in the middle of packing to move. I finally booked my surgery for August 18th, 2021.

I had a Lapidus Bunionectomy; This is a procedure where the first metatarsal bone is fixated to the medial cuneiform bone with a plate and screws. This helps stabilize and correct the bunion. They also remove a wedge of bone at the base of the metatarsal. This is what takes away the big bump. So many things were not told to me, I feel I was not prepared for what recovery actually looked like. I’m hoping that some of these tips will help anyone who is about to face this.

Be prepared: I made sure I had everything I needed the day before surgery. I visited my grandma and father in law as I knew it would be at least a month or two until I could see them again. I did a huge grocery shop so I had lots of healthy food after surgery. I went and rented a knee scooter, which was so incredibly helpful during my no walking phase. I used that thing all the time. Make sure you have Tylenol and Advil in the house. I made sure I grabbed lots of pet food for all the pets. I also went to the surgeon’s office the week before my surgery and purchased the boot cast that I needed along with a cryotherapy unit. They ask you to bring the boot cast with you for surgery as they put it on you when your surgery is finished. I also made sure I had Hellofresh ordered so Hailey could make 3 meals a week. I also had a bunch of pre made meals in the freezer and fridge for the first couple weeks.

Timeline of recovery: I was told by my surgeon that I would be off my feet for two weeks and then heel walking. Well, I didn’t even have my first appointment until week three. So that was already three weeks off my feet. I was not given any idea of how to start heel walking or what it should look like. I felt really lost when it came to anything I needed to do. The surgeon’s office gave me a sheet with a bunch of exercises that I needed to do. I had to google them to see what I had to do and I hoped they were the right ones. Everything for walking, was way off the timeline they gave me. I didn’t start heel walking until almost 4 weeks. The only way I even knew how to heel walk was because of my physiotherapist.

Wound healing and care: When I saw the surgeon, they removed the few little stitches which hadn’t dissolved. Which was very painful and almost made me get sick. I had steri strips all over the wounds on my foot. They just said to me, don’t get them wet. However I can shower but not submerge my foot and no baths. The steri strips were on for over 5 weeks, at this point a few of them started to fall off. I wrote the surgeon’s office to see what to do. They replied to soak my foot and take the bandages off. When I removed them the skin underneath was white and did not look normal. I immediately sent a picture to the surgeon’s office. They said that everything was okay. Over the next few days it continued to get worse and the skin split apart. My foot was really cold all the time and purple. Even when I put it up on pillow’s it didn’t turn a normal color. I did a call with a clinic doctor and he said it was infected. I also had a fever, headache and chills, I could get not get warm. He put me on antibiotics and I saw the surgeon 5 days later. He cleaned the wound, he also said it was not infected and that I just needed to put iodine paste on the wound and keep it covered. However during this, my foot hurt so badly to put pressure on it that I had to stay off of it. I found the idosorb worked so well and Mirapex bandages were amazing. I found mine on amazon and the paste I got from my surgeon. It did start healing up and I have a tiny bit of a scab left.

Muscle Loss: I was absolutely shocked when they took off my cast and I saw my leg. It looked like I had a peg leg. No joke, I could not get over how tiny it was. For this I decided I needed to see a physiotherapist, which was the best decision that I made. The muscle was lost in three weeks. It took so long to get it back, It’s still not the same as my other leg.

Sleeping: This was one of the biggest things, I wish I knew ahead of time. You have to sleep with the boot cast on. You also have to have your foot elevated on two pillows while you sleep. You can’t cover the boot with a blanket. I used a couch blanket and kept my other foot under it but not my left one. You can’t share blankets with your significant others or kids. I had to sleep with the boot cast on for six weeks. This was the most annoying part. Even not having the boot cast on, I still wasn’t able to put a blanket over my foot. The blanket feels really heavy on the big toe and it actually hurts. I am just now at twelve weeks able to put my foot under the blankets without it feeling weird.

Mentally: I never could have prepared myself for the up and down yoyo of feelings that I would have. I am a very active mom with my five kids. Having to sit/lay down and do absolutely nothing, was the biggest test I’ve ever had to face. At first I felt fine, by week 3 I was feeling defeated, sad and angry. Some days I just laid in bed all day by myself and cried. It was so hard feeling like I was missing out on everything. I spent a lot of time wishing I had never done the surgery. I felt bad that Tim had to take over everything on top of everything he already does. It was very challenging, I feel like my recovery has just been so incredibly slow. It was the worst three months of my life. Luckily I had family and friends there to help me through it all. The biggest thing you can do is prepare yourself. Know that you will not be walking in three weeks. Take away all of your expectations and just focus one day at a time. If you look ahead at how long you still have to go in recovery. It will push you right into that horrible feeling.

Of course feel free to reach out if you have any other questions! I will also write a 1 year update.

Day after surgery
Showing the muscle loss

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