Well it’s been quite a while since I updated this blog. I decided to update this time with a special guest star of my right foot! I had the mini-tightrope procedure done on the right foot on April 29, 2011. (Today is July 22, 2012.) As you can see, that foot had a bit better outcome than the left foot.
I am playing tennis again. Not as often as I would like. I still hear the Doctor’s words in my head that it is one of the worst sports for your feet. However, I am enjoying it and the right foot generally feels fine after playing. The left foot gets sore around the toe joint. After one particularly long match I think I damaged the second toenail a bit as the Great toe still rubs the second toe on the left foot.
I had to buy wide tennis shoes for the first time in my life. I think the surgery made some things in the feet shift around a bit, and the left foot gets sore along the edge. I am afraid I am going to develop a tailors bunion there.
In any case, New Balance makes tennis shoes that come in wide widths.
I have not really purchased new regular shoes. I tried and still have problems fitting them. As you can see, I still have bunions. The right one is reduced significantly but I would still classify this as a moderate bunion. The left one, in my book, is still severe. I definitely still hate shoe shopping and that makes me sad. I am not wearing the sketchers any more. They have started not being comfortable. The clogs (Sanita) are also hard on my feet because they are so hard. It has been suggested I put some gel insoles in them which I will try. My feet are happiest in sneakers, but at work I wear old flats that have a wide toe box or that were already stretched out in the bunion area from before the surgery. I never wear flipflops. I used to wear them around the pool but one of the buttons in the foot has kind of set to the top of my foot ( you can feel it underneath the skin) and the straps on flip flops rub it in a very painful way. The other foot you can feel a button just under the surface of the skin between the second and third metatarsal. Not something I had expected.
Anyway, it’s been a long time since I posted. As far as life goes things are getting back to normal, but as far as the feet go. Not satisfied. It’s too early to write The Final Summary, but I will at the one year mark.
I have played tennis twice since the bunionectomy and things feel OK. (Match number three coming up!) As I mentioned in a comment recently, my hesitations on the court are probably a little more psychological than anything. I am hopeful that as I do more and more activity, the mini-tightropes will prove themselves sturdy and I won’t be so pre-occupied with my feet. Picture to be posted soon.
Approximately 2 months have passed since I posted on the progress of my foot after the bunionectomy. Each week it seems to feel a little better as far as stiffness and soreness goes.
The good news: I have started jogging again! Doc said as of March I was allowed, but I just went out and bought a good pair of running shoes so now it’s April and I have been on two 20 minute slow runs. I estimate they were about 2 miles each. The feet felt good afterwards. A little bit sore the next day but not as sore as my glutes and hammies which, although I have been biking alot, are not used to the running! It feels great to be able to do that again. I hope to be playing tennis again this summer.
The bad news: Well, you can look at the picture. There is still a sizeable bump on my foot. This is not really news as it started looking like that in December (See the Photos page for a progression).
Other bad news is I still hate shoe shopping. I have really only bought running shoes but I think my whole “life with bunions” has made me shoe-phobic. I expected that post-surgery I would waltz into any shoe store and find myriad shoes that fit and feel good. I find I don’t even want to go to the store let alone put my foot in a new shoe! Mostly I’m wearing sneakers, clogs and one pair of pre-surgery ‘dress’ flats that still feel ok.
A month later and things are progressing. I have less pain but there is still discomfort and soreness if I am on my feet alot, even in ‘comfortable’ shoes. (I even get discomfort in the right foot still, but in a different way than before. It’s right at the ball of the foot now, on the bottom of the foot, whereas before there was achiness in the second toe.) I’m coming up on the six month mark, though the doctor said it could take up to a year. Flexibility is good. Not as good as the right foot, but that is already at month 9 1/2. I’m optimistic about regaining flexibility. (I stopped Physical Therapy at the end of December.)
It seems like the big toe has “stabilized” (for lack of a better word) and is not slipping anymore to the left. I do feel it rubbing on my second toe sometimes, and it’s quite an odd sensation as it only happens on the ‘lift’ of my foot when I’m taking a step. Stepping down, the toes spread apart, but lifting up the big toe hits the second toe. At first it felt like the cica-care gel was flapping around, but then I realized it was the toes touching!
I will stop using cica-care gel on Feb. 29. That will have been 3 months. (Package says 2-4 months for best results.) Scar is flat, but very red.
The second toe is stiff too. Working that manually when I’m sitting around, but it seems not to bend as far as the others. I have to admit though, that I don’t really remember what kind of flexibility I had in that toe prior to the surgery. I guess I took that little guy for granted!
Doctor said I could start running again in March. I’m anxious and nervous. I believe there will still be pain, but I hope it’s tolerable. I hope I can play tennis this summer.
Approximately four months after the surgery. As you can see the great toe has slipped back towards the other toes a bit. While not as severe as the original (click on the PHOTOS page to see the entire progression) but still quite disappointing. You go through something like this and you hope for the best. You certainly don’t expect that this would happen in 4 months. My last hope is that further movement will be restrained by the fiber that was inserted to shore up the medial capsule (the extra fiber I referred to in the x-ray that goes through the first phalanx and around the joint and back into the metatarsal). I really don’t want to end up back at square one.
Aside from the crooked look of the toe. I am still experiencing soreness in the joint, especially after doing something like the elliptical machine or a long walk. It seems to be improving a little each week, but I feel like it’s a little more sore with this foot vs. the other. (That said, the first foot still has some soreness too, but comparatively, is barely noticeable.) I am not yet able to run or play tennis. (Doctor’s orders, which I am following!) He said March or so. That will be 6 months from surgery. Keep this in mind if you are a runner and are thinking about this surgery!
As for shoes. I’m still most comfortable in those Sketchers I talked about in week 7. Sometimes wearing my regular shoes the joint gets particularly sore. I need to update my footwear for sure. New sneakers are the second most comfortable shoes. The Dansko type clogs cause some joint soreness because they are so hard.
As for the rectangular indentation around the scar: That’s just from the Cica care gel which is worn for 2-4 months after prescribed. I am only 6 weeks in on that, so have a while to go. I pulled the gel off immediately before the photo. The indentation goes away in 5 minutes.
It’s week 13. I haven’t updated for a while so I’ll hit a couple of big points:
At this point I have been in physical therapy for about 5 weeks. The therapist says I have good movement in the great toe joint. She has me doing strengthening exercises and flexibility exercises. How do you strengthen a big toe? Put a therapy band around it, have the therapist hold the ends and you pull the toe towards yourself fighting the resistance. Granted it’s not very much resistance but it’s harder than it sounds. It’s also a little painful. (See “Pain” below.) To get flexibility she massages the foot, and manually manipulates the joint. I do exercises like pick up marbles with my toes and drop them in a cup, lie on my back and bridge up, one-legged balancing type things, clams, and a few other standards. I’m also being treated for what I think is tendonitis in my hip (unrelated to foot!) so we’re doubling down on the core strength work.
I had my three-month (12 week) evaluation with the Doctor and he told me I don’t have to come back unless there is a need.
I still have a slight limp because I don’t yet have all the flexibility back in my toe and that manifests itself in the way I walk. The joint gets sore if I walk a lot, or if I wear certain shoes for too long. I still feel it anytime I am walking or standing. I’m also still most comfortable in my wide toe box comfy shoes. The doctor will tell you that you will be back to your normal activities in 6-8 weeks. Well, if your “normal” includes cycling everyday or playing tennis… that is not quite the truth. I am not supposed to run for a couple more months, which means no tennis either. (See “Sports and Activity”.) This is a little bit of a disconnect from what I thought would be the case. If you are very active, keep this in mind if you get the surgery. I have had both feet done this year and I’m going slightly batty from not having full use of my feet for almost the whole year.
Sports and Activity
I have been in the pool which, aside from being extra cautious when I push off the wall, feels good. I have been on an elliptical machine which felt ok for about 30 minutes but the toe got a bit sore after that. I am going to ease into Yoga next week, modifying some of the poses so that I don’t over-tax the joint.
I had expected not only pain relief from the surgery, but I also had the expectation that I would have perfectly straight toes. As you can see from the photos, that is not exactly the case. They look better when pressed against something, like the floor or a seat cushion that I used as a backdrop in many of my pictures. To the left is a photo where the foot is elevated and you can see how the big toe still is crooked. Also, you can see that I’ve developed a bit of a hammer toe in the second toe. It’s a little hard to reconcile myself to the fact that after all this effort I still don’t have nice feet. So I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. Would I do it all over again? I suppose so, because I did have severe pain and my bunions were so bad. However, I guess I would have really liked to see more photographs (websites like this!) to see what the range of possible outcomes were. I knew there could be a recurrence, but I didn’t expect to have to worry about it immediately after surgery. I’ll keep updating and post how things go in the weeks/months ahead!
I have been going to physical therapy for my foot. Last Saturday, I had a therapist who was not my usual one. She did a funky “kinesio tape” job on the toe. This application of stretchy elastic tape is supposed to help stretch the scar tissue. (Tape pulls in different directions on either side of the scars. ) Unfortunately some of the tape rolled off after half a day, and the rest was gone by Sunday.
Today’s physical therapy was great! Another substitute, and we did exercises for my hip which has been bothering me and for which a different doctor prescribed PT. (Unrelated to the feet, I’m sure, as it began before my first surgery. That is a story for another blog!) This therapist gave me a bunch of exercises to work the core and balance on the foot. Both therapists have me picking up marbles with my toes!
Every day seems slightly less painful to walk. Clogs are still an issue as the sole is too hard.