Daily Archives: May 9, 2014

state of the feet: week seven

Last night I posted a photo on Instagram of dinner prep and it looked so colorful and fun and it wasn’t a photo of feet – a subject that has dominated my IG feed lately. Hopefully this is the last post about them that I’ll write, and my horizons will re-broaden again beyond my rather limited world of work desk / passenger seat / bed. IG followers – thanks for your patience.

Here is where I’ll admit (again) to my weird sort of phobia of google searches. I refrain from writing very specifically about certain things because I have a strong enough grasp of where most of my website traffic comes from, and I suppose I don’t really want pictures and talk of my feet to direct a lot of people here. I feel kind of guilty about that because I do think that the internet can be a tremendous support web of information and shared experiences, but still – they are my feet, and the process was sort of gory and gross. Please forgive my vague references, and I promise not to share the gory photos from the middle with you. (I grossed enough friends out with them already.)

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You will notice the severe angles of my big toes – they’ve always crossed under my second toes, and almost forty years of this criss-crossing had wreaked some havoc on the shape and condition of the bones in my feet. Wearing any shoes outside of athletic shoes was nearly impossible without pain, but worse than any sort of fashion limitations were the increasing signs that I couldn’t really push off surgery any longer. I was starting to experience numbness in various places on my feet, stabbing pains in my big toe strong enough to wake me up in the middle of the night – and don’t forget the stress fractures – turns out the wacky bone structure meant that the center bones in my feet weren’t bearing as much weight as the outer bones, so those center bones were getting soft. In fact, the bones in the right foot were so soft that the surgeon had to forgo the pin he planned to use, and had to use staples because the bones were too soft to support the pinning.

My feet were essentially filleted from just below the toenail to halfway down my feet, and since I’m already grossed out by typing that, I’ll try to gloss over the rest. Bones were cut and straightened and screwed and stapled and pinned back together and then I was done! Ready for the most relaxing six weeks of my life – free of any responsibilities outside of toileting and minimal hygiene, with no one to think of but myself.

Turns out I don’t really enjoy thinking about myself so much.

Week seven has been a busy one. I had the external pin removed (without numbing, just plucked out of the skin and at least three inches of bone by my doctor). Don’t get me wrong – I was thrilled to have it removed. The end occasionally snagged on the delicate webbing between my two toes – often in the dead of sleep, so that I would wake up and feel like a fish hook was caught there, and I’d have to (first) get over the fear of moving my feet in the slightest and (second) slowly wiggle my toes enough to unsnag the hook. The pin and I did not get along, but I was certainly not excited about the prospect of the removal. Here’s the (encouraging) conversation I had with my nurse prior to the procedure.

Me:  Tell me this doesn’t hurt.
Him:  What’s your tolerance for pain?
Me:  Tell me it’s quick.
Him:  It can be. It’s pretty deep in the bone and requires a lot of pressure to remove.
Me:  Tell me something positive.
Him:  I’d recommend lying back and not watching.

I was feeling pretty sick at that point, particularly because he told me that the stitches removal was no big deal, and they hurt like nobody’s business, so my trust level with him was nada.

Turns out the removal was easier than the anticipation. Pin out meant a shower for the first time, driving again, shoes… things that seem so encouraging and progressive and worth celebrating. But there hasn’t been a light switch moment for anything. It’s all a slow progression towards the end goal – which for me is feeling like I never had surgery – something my surgeon has said will take about a year to achieve. Each day is better than the last one. I’ve been driving (carefully, and only to and from work), I’ve had the initial appointment for orthotics that will help retrain my feet to walk again, I’ve got new shoes – they aren’t so fabulous, but they work and I’ll take them, and I started physical therapy with a foot expert, so I’m learning and training at the same time. I can’t take a single step without shoes for awhile, which means that every task I do in the morning and the evening takes a little longer – dressing, showering, relaxing in a chair for a moment with feet up, and then remembering that I want something that I forgot just across the room. Shoes on, shoes off, shoes on.

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still a little puffy, but straight!

Everywhere I go, I get confirmation that I’m working with some of the very best – my surgeon, my physical therapist, the person creating my orthotics, even down to my shoes. If you are dealing with the same issues and need any recommendations, please feel free to contact me by email. I’m more than happy to share my good fortune – because I’m trying to look at all of this mess as just that.

What a crazy weird thing it is to take a crooked body and make it straight. I know it’s not a heart or a brain or a spine, it’s just feet. But man, feet are important, and I’m glad to get back up on mine again. You have no idea.