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

Scarring

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.


Photo taken at 14 weeks

  • I do not have a problem bending my toes upward/toward me without assistance, other than my big toe looks a bit out of whack compared to my other foot. 
  • I am able to bend both my ankles toward me; however, when I try to point my toes and bend my ankles away from me, my left ankle does not move as far. I am able to do yoga poses with the tops of both my feet on the floor, and I had not been able to do that a few weeks ago.
  • I cannot bend my left big toe away from me without assistance. This is not painful; my toe just does not move. Even when I push on it with my fingers, I cannot move it like my other big toe (at either knuckle).
  • When I walk, it feels like the ball of my foot on the inside is not pressing down or touching the ground properly. Additionally, my big toe does not touch the ground as it should.

Bending toes forward

The range of motion in my leg on the surgical side has improved, although I still have considerably less range of motion on that side of my body compared to the non-surgical side of my body. 

Exercise

Along with specific toe exercises I am doing daily, I have been doing yoga, walking, and biking.
  • I am able to do yoga poses that put weight on my toes that I could not do a few weeks ago (like plank pose). 
  • I am walking and biking at my usual pre-surgery pace.

To exercise my toes and ankles:
  • I stand on my tip toes, usually when I am brushing my teeth or stirring something on the stove for dinner.
  • I alternate between standing on my toes and stepping up and down on my tip toes (good for the glutes, too).
  • I try to walk on carpet on my tip toes.
  • Bend my toes and ankles back and forth.
  • Flex my ankles.
  • Rotate my ankles in circles.
  • Try to bring my knee to the ground in a curtsey. This is the most painful!

Last doctor visit

When I had my checkup at 16 weeks, my doctor said I did not need to schedule another visit unless I had problems. When I asked about specific exercises to increase the range of motion I have lost, he merely told me to grab my toe several times a day and bend it forward. He said that when this range of motion returned, this would take care of the problem I was having with my toe not touching the ground all the way. He told me to expect swelling for several more months, and that this may be worse when it is hot out.

I asked about removing the screws, and he again told me this is not necessary. He felt my foot, and told me he could not feel the screws. He thinks no one would have trouble with screws in their body unless they are loose. I think the screws are bothering me because of my metal allergy. My foot often itches, and sometimes the area where the screws are is more swollen and red. I realize this may also just be because the area is not fully healed yet, so as long as the irritation does not get worse, I will give it a few more months to see if this goes away.

These last two photos show the condition of my foot at 16 weeks. My foot is shiny because I took the photos right after I applied Aquaphor. I am using Aquaphor to aid with the scar healing. In the first photo, I am trying to bend my big toe down toward the floor, which you can see causes my first toe to bend oddly. In the second photo, my feet are relaxed, and the big toe does not touch the floor.

Bending toes toward floor

Feet relaxed

This will probably be my last post unless something unusual happens. Please let me know if you have any questions or information you would like to share. Thank you all for listening and for your support!