Tuesday, August 29, 2017

#14 ~ 6 Month Update

August 2017

It has been a bit over 6 months since I had bunion surgery, and I am sharing a quick update about my progress, and my decision to have my other foot done.

Current [6-month post-op] condition

My foot and toe have healed for the most part, although there are a few lingering things that have not totally healed yet.  

Ankle still a bit swollen 6 months post-op

Swelling and pain

The top of my foot and ankle are still a bit swollen. I can tell this is the case every time I remove a shoe that has covered the top of my foot, and my ankle gets quite sore when I walk. I have been doing a lot of walking, hiking, bicycling, and yoga, so I have resumed all my usual activities. I tried to get a photo with both my ankles together so you could see the size difference; however, those pictures did not turn out well. From the research I did online, it does not sound like my experience is unusual. 

Shoes that give me toe pain
I am not able to wear shoes with much of a heel for very long. I have a pair of soft Skecher sandals with a 2" heel (or less), which I have been wearing around the house and yard for short periods to try and get my toe used to flexing in different directions. I frequently feel pain in my big toe when I step down in these shoes. It is tolerable pain, although it does make me gasp sometimes. This also happens with flat shoes occasionally. It seems like I have needed to wear excellent support shoes since having the surgery. I have one pair of flat sandals that I can no longer wear because my toe hurts when I walk in them. I guess they have low quality support. And, they are kind of old, as well.

Monday, June 26, 2017

#13 ~ 14 to 16 weeks (3½ to 4 Months) Post-Op

Before I had this surgery, I had planned to have both my feet done. Now, I am starting to have second thoughts because my foot does not seem quite right. This could just be because I have had time to scrutinize my feet and progress, or because I have not had very good communication from my doctor. Whatever the reason, I have decided I am not pursuing my second foot until I am sure my current foot is back to normal.

Pain and swelling

My ankle and foot are both still swollen, although the swelling around my foot has gone down a little bit. I still wear my tennis shoes most of the time, and I have worn a few pair of sandals and slip-on shoes for short periods. I wore a pair of sandals that covered the top of my foot one time, and I felt like I had to peal the sandal off a few hours later. It was not difficult getting that sandal on, nor was it painful walking in it; just difficult removing it. I measured my feet and ankles a few weeks ago, and when I measured them again this week, my foot was about ¼" smaller than it had been then.

The pain I was experiencing at 14 weeks was minimal, and I think a lot of it was caused by the swelling. Sometimes when I walked, I had ankle pain and pain in the arch of my foot. The pain was not severe; however, it was painful enough that I often felt like I was tensed up and not relaxed as I walked. This was worse at the end of the day. My toe is usually only painful when I am exercising it (or, driving my husband's 6-speed stick shift truck!).

At 16 weeks, my foot and ankle are still mildly swollen. I am not experiencing any pain, although my big toe does not touch the ground like it should, and I can still feel discomfort in my toe, and arch of my foot.

Photo taken at 13 weeks; click on it to enlarge


I have two unsightly scars (I have four total) that I am not happy with. One is the spot at the end of the top incision that had not been healed when the cast was removed, and the second is the long scar extending up from my toe, which had rubbed against the cast when I exercised. I think both of these scars would be less, if my doctor had cared for them differently. For example, when I look at the photo I took for post #8, I can clearly see that both of these areas were thicker red with blood than the long scar on the top of my foot, which is only minimally visible. Again, I wondered why no one ever washed and changed the dressing when they checked my foot. This does not seem normal to me, and I would love to know what other patients have to say about their experience. Seems like if the blood had been cleaned out and new strips placed on the incisions, then these unsightly scars would look like the one on the top of my foot. It also seems like the toe exercises I did while wearing the cast aggravated the scars. Again, I wondered why my doctor had put a cast on my foot when I read about other patients who did not wear a cast. I thought I did a lot of research before this surgery, and now I have even more questions before I consider my other foot.

Range of motion

The range of motion on the surgical side of my body is not what it used to be. I have included a few photos that show the difference between my two sides. I have been doing my own therapy and exercises because my doctor did not provide any specific exercises or instructions. Details of the exercises I have been doing can be found under that heading.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


This summary post will be ongoing and updated until my foot and toe are fully healed. Please let me know if you are interested in something specific that I have not listed here.

  • Stopped taking Norco pain medication: less than 36 hours after I returned home after surgery.
  • First checkup: 3 days after surgery (I had taken my last Norco pill overnight before this visit).
  • Light housework: within the first week.
  • Increased housework: week 3, and more during week 6. Pretty much all resumed during week 8.
  • Sleeping usual amount: week 3 (I slept a lot the first week, and a bit more than usual the second week).
  • Schooching up and down [carpeted] basement stairs: once within the first week when my husband was home with me, and again the second week. During week 3, I did this more frequently. During week 6, I did this as often as I wanted and when home alone (I just had to slide the crutches up and down with me).
  • Made homemade bread: week 2.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#12 ~ Another Checkup, 10+ Weeks Post-Op

May 2017

Checkup and removal of surgical shoe

After my visit to the doctor a week ago, he said I could start wearing my shoes. My ankle and the top of my foot are both still swollen, so I have mostly been wearing tennis shoes with the laces loosened all of the way. I asked him if it mattered what type of shoes I wore, and whether I went barefoot, and he said no. He basically just told me to do whatever I could tolerate with the pain. I had planned to specifically ask him if he had information about specific exercises, and I forgot.

I was surprised to learn that both screws that are in my foot are in the same area where I have been experiencing the pain, redness, and swelling on the top of my foot. I had thought one of them was in my toe. Sometimes, the irritation on the top of my foot is so bothersome I need to gently massage the top and sides of my foot to make it feel better. The redness and swelling is not constant, and the area was not irritated at the time of my checkup. After learning that is where both screws are located, I realized I am probably having a mild reaction to the metal in my foot. I asked my doctor about removing the screws (remember, he had said this is not a big deal), and he told me this is not necessary. I have another appointment in a few weeks, so I am planning to get a couple of photos of my foot when this area is irritated, and talk with him more about having the screws removed during that visit. Photos in this blog can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Scars and swelling 11 weeks post-op;
mild irritation in circle where screws are located

Pain and swelling

Before I went in for my checkup, the pain and tingling in my foot and toes was gone for the most part. After exercise, I sometimes felt tingling along the top of my foot from my toes to my ankle; however, I no longer experienced this from temperature changes. Sometimes my muscles felt like I had a charley horse (muscle spasm). I felt pain in my toes after a lot of bending, and the incisions were still tender.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#11 ~ After Two Weeks with Walking Shoe / Eight+ Weeks After Surgery

April 2017

Yay! My pain and condition has improved considerably two weeks after walking with the surgical shoe. I still have a long ways to go; however, the healing process feels like it is improving tremendously. I was even able to grasp my foot this week to trim my toenails and scruff off some of the dead skin. I had used a dry brush to get rid of the skin on the outside edges of my foot after the cast was removed; however, I had not used a dry brush or exfoliator near the inside edge of my foot until this week. You can see in the photo below that my foot still needs some TLC. Since touching my foot is becoming less painful, I should be able to get it back into shape before summer sandal weather! 😊

Pain and swelling

I am not feeling hardly any pain along the underside of my foot like I did when I first started walking. I still feel some pain; however, it is not excruciating, and I am no longer using the cane. Most of the pain happens when I first stand up, or if I put too much pressure on the bottom of my foot.

The incisions are still tender, and the top of my foot closest to the ankle is extremely sore and tender. I have begun to wonder where the second screw in my foot is located, and whether this area being so sore has anything to do with that. The sore spot is where I placed the circle in the photograph below. The top of my foot is swollen, although not as much as it had been a week ago. I am continuing to use Aquaphor on the incisions. There are four incisions on my foot: two straight line ones on top, one around the inside of my big toe, and a small curved one along the side next to where the bunion had been located. The incision that had not been closed all of the way when my cast was removed (top of my foot closest to the big toe) looks nasty and jagged rough compared to the scar farther up on top of my foot. This is the area that was aggravated by the cast when I exercised my toes, and I hope I did not damage the scar tissue so that it heals less smooth. My husband seems to think it looks worse because it is not as far along in the healing process as the other longer incision.

8 weeks post-op

The swelling in my ankle has gone down in the last week, although you can tell by the photo that it is still swollen. I am continuing to elevate it, and I put ice on it several times a day. The ankle pain I am experiencing feels like the kind of pain one would have after twisting or spraining the ankle. I am no longer experiencing pain rising up my leg from my ankle.

Monday, April 10, 2017

#10 ~ First Week with Walking Boot

April 2017

I had heard that bunion surgery is painful, and before this week I felt like comments I had read were overstated. I had quit taking my meds within four days of surgery, and I did not experience a lot of pain immediately following surgery. Yes, I had swelling and discomfort; however, I did not have extreme pain. I did not realize the more intense pain would be during the recovery when I started walking again; not the surgery itself. 

Activity and exercise

My doctor had not given me very detailed instructions about what activities I should be resuming, and he had not really discussed any exercises to assist with the healing. He basically told me to wear the walking boot when I was putting weight on my foot, to walk/do what I could tolerate, and continue bending my toes. I mentioned in my last post how severe the pain was when I tried to stand up, and this did not lessen any in the first week.

Although walking was painful, it was easier to do things around the house. I went up and down the stairs (walking, rather than schooching), vacuumed, washed the floors, prepared meals, etc; pretty much all of the typical household chores. I did yoga, toe bends, and ankle stretches daily. I always felt better after gently stretching my body. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#9 ~ Week Six Checkup and Walking Boot!

April 2017

Cast comfort

I am providing a brief recap of the cast comfort first, as I think some of the pain I experienced this week was a result of the way the cast fit. The cast was tight around my ankle and front of my leg (just like the first one had been), and around my entire foot just above the toes. By the time I returned for my checkup, I had cut off a couple of layers of cast wrapping, and I had made a couple of cuts in the material above my toes. The wrapping ended at the top, so removing a bit of material relieved that area; however, it did not do anything for the area above my toes where the wrapping started.

The shorter cast had a few good points: less weight, and because it ended just above my ankle, I did not need to worry about where it hit the pad on the walker. It hung off the end of the walker, whereas the taller cast had rested partially on the pad. If the cast had not been so tight, it probably would have been quite tolerable.

Pain, tingling, blue toes

The tingling in my first two toes started to decrease after five weeks post-op. I could gently squeeze, massage, and bend the ends of these toes with my fingers. Before this, I had not been able to even clasp my toes between my fingers because the tingling pain had been so severe. I had frequent tingling from my big toe and up the top of my foot that was quite bothersome. I think my cast being tight aggravated this, since my toe knuckle rubbed tightly against the cast when I bent my toes forward. I also experienced mild pressure on other areas of my foot from the cast when I exercised or moved. This felt similar to the way your body feels when it starts to "fall asleep" from pressure on a nerve. Areas that was especially bothersome were the ball of my foot below my big toe, and the top of my foot.